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Birdy Nam Nam: brilliant new album

Mar 31

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009  RssIcon

French turntable team Birdy Nam Nam have attracted a lot of international attention recently, as much for their sound as for the fact that there are four of them mixing and twiddling together where normally such things are a solitary pursuit.

Birdy Nam Nam - Manual For Successful RiotingIn a way, this is quite odd. No one remarks on the fact that four rock musicians can combine as a group. Jazzmen tend to gather in fives, sixes or more. And what about the Berlin Philharmonic? There’s a hundred of them!

What’s more, in the studio Birdy Nam Nam probably don’t record live together but in individual takes and overdubs, like most rock bands. So, their onstage innovation counts for little down the coalmine of making albums. Like for most rock bands, in fact.

Fortunately for Birdy Nam Nam, the ends are just as impressive as the means. ‘Manual For Successful Rioting’, their second album, has just come out and it’s a cracker. Top-quality turntablism married to dancefloor electronica of considerable depth and imagination, it will make their name internationally. And, in our parish notes, anyone who was at their show in A.L.T. in Dublin last December will give a wry smile at that title. [Don’t go there, croissant boy! - CLUAS Legal Department]

Perhaps a more telling title is that of ‘Trans-Boulogne Express’, the 2007 track included here. That allusion to ‘Trans-Europe Express’ is a clear nod to Kraftwerk, the spiritual forefathers of this album, and marks a slight change in direction from the hip-hop-isms of old. Clinical beeps and blips, control-freak loops, distorted voices: the sonic template is Teutonic audio engineering at its finest. But, like the legendary German foursome, Birdy Nam Nam infuse their electronica with humanity and wit – mostly with the old-school rapping of Newcleus on ‘Shut Up’ but also with the soul and jazz samples that flash like lightning through this record. Crucially, you can dance to it too; producers Yuksek and Justice are old hands at that game.

And, of course, in places they sound positively French. The strangest track here is probably ‘Homosexuality’, a Jarre/Air-style exercise in swooshing retro-futuristic synths under a vocoder-ed voice that repeats the title. (We don’t know if there’s a point being made there; if so, it’s above our heads at least. That said, we could suggest some innuendo about the title ‘Trans-Boulogne Express’, but perhaps we’d best keep that to ourselves.)

Hardcore fans may be disappointed that this record is closer to carefully-crafted studio electronica than turntable cut n’pasting, but the BNN live experience can only enhance the thrill of this music. Until they land at your local venue, check out their MySpace page for tracks. And here they are on video, painting a model of the word ‘RIOT’ over and over. It must be art:


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2 comment(s) so far...


Re: Birdy Nam Nam: brilliant new album

they are just too good. seriously their shows are amazing, they're straight into it with brilliant sounds and great visuals.
i'm dreaming of a giant tour with yuksek, birdy nam nam, justice and daft punk. it will be so much work for the techies but so much fun for the crowd!

By Edith on   Thursday, April 16, 2009

Re: Birdy Nam Nam: brilliant new album

I would have thought you'd had enough of their live show! :)Seeing your list of French electronic/dance acts makes me think that you have the perfect nationality for your job - they must be so much fun to light. I reckon Yuksek and Justice are in the studio with each new track, thinking (1) "Can Edith dance to it?" and (2) "Can Edith light it?"

By aidan on   Thursday, April 16, 2009

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Aidan Curran, based in Paris, has been writing for CLUAS since 2004. More info about Aidan...

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