For my money, the sounds of the 21st century were best created about twenty years ago -- from the blips and bleeps of video games and the cold, sterile emanations of analog synthesizers. Unapologetically artificial, they connoted a promising future filled with jet packs, moon vacations and dinner in tablet form. In contrast, today's synth music is frequently too self-importantly dreary. But Parisian Gilles Weinzaepflen, who, fortunately, performs under the moniker Toog (much easier on the tongue), has managed to recapture those naive, pre-digital sounds while adding a dash of always-welcome ironic wit to the mix. His album 6633
-- just how THX 1138
is that? -- opens with a creeping and delicate number, "Le Jugement [259k aiff]
," that sets the stage for the album's journey into a retro future. The brief song presents a sharp, almost angular rhythm riding atop a menagerie of noises that seem to breathe just beneath the song's surface. Like the album as a whole, it offers a sophisticated interplay of sounds and rhythms. Indeed, the album veers in experimental territory in this regard: On "X'tern [237K aiff]
," for example, Toog happily shifts tempo mid-song to disrupt quiet theremin meditations with a loud gunshot or two. The multilayered melodic weave he creates here is not subtle, of course, but it is inventive. The same can be said for his odd lyrics. (Though he sings entirely in French, the American version comes with a translated lyric sheet.) On "L'amour Dentair [255K aiff]
," Toog muses: "A visit to the dentist, a proof that love exists/When I kiss you, I don't want to feel your sickly tooth." Oh, those romantic French! And occasionally, as in "L'Ombre, la Nuit," 6633
's electronic showcase allows for a traditional instrument to make an appearance -- in this case, a flute. Toog, however, makes the juxtaposition between a wind instrument and a computer timeless.