It’s Oh! 2015
Raw emotions from Belgian artist painting aural graffiti in most proper way: live.
In a decade since their full-length debut, AWAKEN gained a solid foothold in Japan and Vietnam, which might have given the band a whiff of exotica, but when their singer Snowcat addresses his Asian experiences on “Nama Time!” there’s no pop-art tinsel. Instead, Gilles is aiming at the ultimate intimacy by stripping his performance in a live presentation to a gruff-to-clear voice with a support of piano or acoustic guitar. The personal connection established with “Continental Breakfast” – a studio epic of a kitchen-sink kind, a manifestation of a Gainsbourg/Cohen school in a prog rock environment, a female purr contrasting the singer-songwriter’s almost-sinister, if playful, delivery – this album wraps a listener in a warm bubble of domestic bliss on the verge of a Far East journey.
So, while instrumental cuts such as the spaced-out “Kabosu Hachimitsu Snack” and the solemn “Xup So-co-la” propel the mood towards the cathartic “I Know Time Is Passing By” finale, the overall grandeur – palpable in the anxiously romantic “Beppu Nights” and the vibrant “Moko Moko” – is peppered with the playful likes of “Legs & Liquor.” Not all is as merry, though, “The Train Is Leaving Kokura” adding a quiet drama to the proceedings, and the 9-minute-plus “Yanagigaura” careening to a half-spoken rumination, yet it’s this subliminal travelogue that makes Giles’ record special. Here’s a heartfelt mind-trip.