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BOTW: Bot’Ox – Babylon By Car Album Review

There are little tics that everyone gets when they hear music that really makes them want to dance. It might be a tapping toe, a nodding head or a subtle shimmy of the shoulders, or even a grin across the room to your mate with a facial expression of sheer joy – that kind of grin that really feels a little naughty, a little cheeky, and very Friday. You get it with Daft Punk, you get it with Tiga, and you get it with Soulwax.

You also get it with Bot’Ox. The album takes cues from earlier electro acts, as well as folding influences from krautrock, electronica and majestic lo-fi, gradually weaving itself into the sort of discolectro that Aeroplane’s debut could have been. It’s linear, slightly uneasy, and in parts downright sinister, but Bot’Ox’s debut album Babylon by Car isn’t really a party album. Don’t get me wrong, it pumps out a fair number of tunes!, but the main

Kicking off with a twiddly electro-italo-vibe, Babylon By Car soon opens out into a wide spectrum of electro, with the Cut Copy-esque tune Bearded Lady Motorcycle Club. With a killer bassline, smooth, sleek synthwork and a catchy-as-hell hook, the bizarrely-titled track somehow feels appropriate, reflecting the absurdity of its subject.

Standout track (and ironically, the soundtrack to a Peugeot commercial) Blue Steel, apparently and justifiably tearing up dancefloors in France, is a Nintendo-synth-driven masterpiece which is both beautiful, haunting and danceable; an odd combination. Anna Jean (of Domingo fame) gives the track an otherworldly element that is somewhere between Air’s dreamier numbers and the sparse sounds of Kraftwerk. This immediately drops into the unsettling motorway-whoosh of Overdrive.

Once the bangers have receded, the album chills out a touch. Collaborating with new wave icon Judy Nylon on Tout Passe, Tout Lasse, Toute Casse, is an outstanding piece of electronica; taking the post-punk spoken-word discipline to somewhere disarmingly post-modern and alienated. The duo really toy with their synths on this record, creating a dark, post-punk vibe, which mixes tempos and moods between songs without the jarring that can occur in dance records. Here, Briffaz and Boguet work with the tunes they’ve created to pull together a proper record that flows, rather than a disjointed collection of cracking songs that can be so typical of electronic producer-sourced music.

It’s a carefully-honed, lovingly-crafted record that exemplifies a subtle but strong-willed approach to electro – it’s not all about the bangers, kids – that should see Bot’Ox continue to evolve into one of the most appealing French producers for some time. It does that rare thing in modern music, it makes you think. And we love ‘em for it.

- Seb Law



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