The liquidity of movement and sensual overload in French Czech-based duo Overland Inn‘s new album ‘Proxima’ is nothing short of magnificent. Heralded by a series of delectable amuse-bouches over the last 12 months following their signing to the brilliant Brisbane label False Peak Records, Overland Inn have perfected an electronic based dream pop oeuvre that has distilled the joys of fellow compatriots like the marvelous Mylène Farmer and Air, with a touch of the gamin Jane Birkin’s work with Serge Gainsbourg (with singing lessons).
The sibilant electronic bedrock is not, however all fey and wistful: a syncopated arpeggiated thrub forms a steely spine to many a track: a kind of Cabaret Voltaire meets Daft Punk sinewy thread while the vocal soar in a velvety ethereal cloak.
Think of a Nicolas Winding Refn/Michael Mann soundtrack set in neon lit urban jungles during late night journeys.
Overland Inn have no boundaries, physical or aural. They are now based in Prague having lived and recorded in Portugal and the UK and now have added an Australian label to the mix. Of the album ‘Proxima’, their fourth, the band says:
‘Proxima’ is named after a space mission. This is our first album in French, but we wrote it in Czechia, mostly during the pandemics. We have used a variety of birds, frogs and other animal sounds, and played them through granular synthesisers. Computers were almost absent from the creation and mastering process, leaving the analogue synth untamed. The whole album shows mixed emotions, somewhere between nostalgia and acceptance.
Title track ‘Proxima’ is an exquisite slice of electronica pie, augmented by the lush vocals sung in French: always a delicious and enigmatic burnish to any track.
The syncopated rhythms and structural flow is mesmerising while the singing floats above the swiftly moving surface like a butterfly: elegant, delicate and light of touch. Overland Inn show an innate ability to record elegance and light in this luminescent track.
‘Les Mauvais Jours’ is a shimmering piece of Euro chic, bringing to mind the kind of louche, elegant craft of a Jane Birkin fronted Serge Gainsbourg piece for the modern age – filled with stylistic exotism and atmosphere. Circular, arpeggiated synths and celestial melodies whisper softly with delightful enticement.
In ‘Le Hibou’, Overland Inn’s trademark icy synths and celestial vocals feature again with a more upbeat and bubbling track that has heavenly spaces and gorgeous melodies delivered in their native French tongue. There is a sixties syncopated flow to this track that recollects the magic pop of the legendary chanteuse Mylène Farmer, before the duo divert the flow and wander off into an ambient reverie in the outro.
‘Les Loups’ has syncopated liquid instrumentation carrying the most velvet soft vocals on a melodic journey filled with melancholy and sparkle.
The accompanying video is:
…an animation inspired by an early animation device invented by Joseph Plateau in 1841 – the phenakistoscope. Old photographs by Eadward Muybridge were glued on vinyl records. At a certain speed and with a certain frame rate the photos come to life.
It’s certainly a mesmerising piece of footage filled with a certain enigma and presence that flows beautifully with the music:
Final track ‘Refuge’ veers away from the electronic hum to something more organic – a melancholic folk-based track shimmering along at an acoustic canter sung in English with a heavenly choir in the distance and a sense of compassion in the lyrics. While a syncopated spine does form and develop, this is a raw and earthy song.
‘Proxima’ is an absolute joy – a range of perfectly delectable dreamy pop songs bursting forth with melody and style on a lush bed of electronica. Exotic and rich, the warmth that shines through the vocals belies the arctic streams of synths that add pace and vibrancy.
Out through False Peak Records, the album is available digitally through the link below and through all the normal streaming sites. A vinyl version is hopefully on the way: I for one will be at the front of the queue for that.
Overland Inn are Etienne (Guitar / Machines) and Chloë (Voice / Keyboards / Machines) who recorded their first album Long Way Home in Portugal in 2010. They went to the UK to record new tracks and compiled them into a second album called Technicolor (2013), before they settled in the Czech Republic and released Between a Dog and a Wolf (2016).
Feature Photograph: Adela Nistora