Champions of Wonder

Oh Astro

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Champions of Wonder Review

by William York

If Champions of Wonder were a vinyl LP, it would be a tale of two sides, with Side A being quite entertaining and Side B perhaps making you wish they had pared the record down to an EP. The first five tracks make for a charming sequence of plunderphonic techno-pop, for lack of a better description. It begins with "Snow Queen," which combines chopped-up vocals, vibraphones, old-school synths, and stuttering drum-machine beats into a tidy, very catchy song structure -- although where all those samples come from (and which copyrights they are violating) is anyone's guess. Meanwhile, "Lucy Sees the Moon" is a strangely compelling reworking of the traditional tune "I See the Moon" with computer-altered vocals. It sounds like an a cappella choir made up of robots, munchkins, and a singing harmonica, but as strange as that sounds, it really works. That song transitions into the light, upbeat "Candy Sun Smiles," which again manages to twist some warped vocal samples into a catchy almost-pop song. However, the charm starts to wear off somewhere around track seven ("Journey to the Center"), and as the album veers more and more into the realm of sexless robo-dance, it's hard to escape the image of a bunch of martini-sipping urbanites milling about at an art opening somewhere as this music emanates from a DJ's laptop. It's not entirely unpleasant; it just feels a little cold and unfocused, unlike the first half of the disc.

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