Daft Punk, fetch out your pipe and slippers. Justice, bow down. Soulwax, meet your match. Simian Mobile Disco: come on then if you think yer ‘aaard enough. Boys Noize, Alex Ridha to his mother and the tax man, present the lairiest, noisiest, filthiest dance album of 2007.
Well, on one level the title was something of a giveaway. If this album were a car, it’d be bright red, with blacked out windows. Its stereo’s bass would be louder than its engine. With big wheels and lowered suspension, its driver would cruise the Friday night streets of best-forgotten district towns in the Kent and Essex borders, seeking “birds” of an orange hue called Shazza and “largin’” it. It’s a bit bangin’, as the parlance goes.
But Ridha is not from Romford, Bromley, Croydon or Harlow. He is from Germany, where he taught himself to play drums and piano, wrote songs and began DJing by the time he was 14 years of age. By 16 the piano was dispensed with and he was programming and producing, and now at 24 he has commendations from Tiga to Erol Alkan ringing in his bass-shattered ears. Listen to planet-size cuts like Lava Lava and & Down and, if the heavier side of electro is your thing, you’ll be lining up to join them.
The album title probably reflects Ridha’s binary approach too. Throughout Oi Oi Oi is the sound of compressors mangling already irresistable drum machine beats and phat old synths to within an inch of their scrunched, squalid little lives and showing no mercy even when begged. As he uses analogue production rather than software, some oddballs have suggested Ridha is Germany’s answer to the similarly anti-digital James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem. Not really, unless you think Lordi are Finland’s answer to Nirvana, which would be about as accurate, as statements go.
While there are comparisons to be made with the current vanguard of French electroheads – especially Justice, on treated vocal tracks like Oh! – Ridha’s place on the dancefloor sits somewhere between compatriots Tiefschwartz‘s beats and the raw industrial rave of T.Raumschmiere. Oi Oi Oi is far removed from that other famous electro compatriot of his, Paul van Dyk – make no mistake, this is not trance. It is heavy, it rarely lets up and it is unarguably compulsive.
A slight dip in the latter half of the album only serves as the briefest of breathers before the end comes on stronger even than the start with Don’t Believe The Hype. If you’ve got this far and aren’t dancing, you are probably dead – our condolences if so. (This, incidentally, is hype you should believe.)
A modulation twist here, a thwhack thwhack thwhack of synth there and suddenly the beat’s changed, the adventure in sonic whizzbangery has ended and silence falls, save for the ringing of protesting eardrums. Only one thing remains on the To Do list. Press play again.