Boys Noize & Mr. Oizo’s magnificent ‘Handbraekes #3’ EP has arrived [Stream]
Today is a blissful one for audiences with a specifically unique acquired taste, as it marks the unveiling of the third installation in one of the most supremely bizarre series in dance music: Handbraekes. Though the cacophonous kingpins Boys Noize and Mr. Oizo joined forces briefly two years ago for a remix of the former’s “Midnight” and a collaboration on the latter’s All Wet LP, Handbraekes #3 marks their first joint record since 2014.
Indubitably, it delivers.
Graciously, Alex Ridha and Quentin Dupieux have offered their listeners six new tracks (as opposed to their traditional four-track EPs), effectively splitting the difference of their lengthier hiatus. And, while their weightier output is much-appreciated, the offering’s quality unsurprisingly supersedes its quantity.
Ever-eclectic, there isn’t a single style which defines the Handbraekes super-duo, just as there isn’t a singular sound which defines its individual components. However, as one might expect from the combination of the two illustrious, genre-bending auteurs at the helm, the project has always largely centered around an often-atonal amalgam of electro, disco, funk, techno, and assorted abstruse noises.
Handbraekes #3 begins with the aptly-titled “Discow,” which riffs off the more conventional side of Dupieux and Ridha’s disco-laden influences. Perhaps the most restrained output from the duo to date, “Discow” acts as somewhat of a beguiling overture to the record; indeed, it is the album’s sole, brief departure from their standard fare of being anything but standard.
Thereafter, the duo expound upon their disco inspirations in “All Nite,” though the offering passes through the stylistic looking glass into a far more dissonant, atonal, and characteristically absurd realm. This tradition continues for the remainder of the collection in the multi-lingual, Oizo-heavy offering, “Citroën,” the minimalistic, hip-hop-infused “Jumpma,” and “Bangyou,” a closing number which manages to steep an anticipation which it refuses to resolve, yet satisfy simultaneously.
Yet, perhaps in no song from Handbraekes #3 is the duo’s particular brand of abnormality more prevalent than in “Intertwo.” Arguably the EP’s standout hit, this fundamentally unclassifiable sonic concoction deftly deviates from Handbraekes’ signature musical tendencies, while somehow exemplifying their essence better than any other track from the record. The caustic, broken-beat piece would repel any fair-weather audience from a club, yet the acid-tinged bass synthesis and haunting melodies remind aficionados what led them to enjoy tracks like “Milc” and “The Qat” in the first place.
Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another four years until Handbraekes #4, but if we do, the savants Ridha and Dupieux have bestowed upon us quite a worthy gift with which to pass the time during such a wait to come.