Compilations / Mixes
Tides of Mind
Add Oxia's Tides Of Mind to an ever-growing list of solid InFiné full-length releases. Having issued material since 1995 on a number of labels (Kompakt, Tsuba, and 8bit among them), Olivier Raymond, the man behind the Oxia curtain, is an old-hand at this sort of thing by now, and it's evident in the level of craft shown by the album's eleven cuts. A good number of genres are referenced—jazz and vocal electropop among them—but it's house of the deep and hard-grooving kind that beats loudest. Oxia fans have waited a long time for a new full-length—in fact, it's been eight years since 24 Heures appeared on Goodlife, a now-defunct label Olivier founded with Alexandre Reynaud and The Hacker in the late ‘90s—but I'm guessing they won't be disappointed.
Like many an artist album, Oxia's begins with a one-minute overture (“Premiss”) that one can easily bypass in order to get to the album's proper. If “Rue Brusherie,” then, is the album's true opener, it brings the jazzier side of Oxia's house style to the forefront. The percolating tune swings breezingly and receives a considerable boost from a driving drum pulse, added warmth from organ accents, and injections of jazz flavour from ride cymbals and Richard Gow's elegant piano playing. Immediately thereafter, “Housewife” moves Oxia out of the jazz club and onto the dancefloor with a jacking minimal house anthem spiked by a low-riding bass line and a droll vocal turn by Miss Kittin (“Music is life / I'm a housewife”).
Olivier wisely infuses Tides Of Mind with variety by mixing vocal (the young singer Mesparrow enhances the appeal of the electropop ballad “Traveling Fast”) and instrumental cuts, and he's also the kind of experienced producer who can churn out a sleek slice of melodic house (such as the dub-influenced “Nightfall,” the aptly titled “Sway,” or piano-heavy house track “Harmonie”) with no apparent difficulty. But the album's strongest cuts are the funkier, bass-heavy numbers that draw upon early house. The slinky deep house groove powering “Flying Over Time,” for instance, helps make it one of Tides Of Mind's most irresistible body-shakers, while the soulful “The Phoney Lullaby” is distinguished less by Scalde's silken vocal than by the creamy and effervescent backing Olivier fashions for it. The ease with which he integrates vocals into his house tracks suggests that he might consider Tracey Thorn as a future vocal candidate, an idea that seems even more natural given the song's “I don't miss you” lyric, which can't help but call to mind the Everything But The Girl club classic “Missing.” In fact, the idea of an album-length collaboration between Oxia and Thorn is a tantalizing thought indeed.