|O.Y. in Hi~Fi|
Optiganally Yours — O.Y. in Hi~Fi (July 20, 2018)♦δ♦
Location: San Diego, California
Genre: Indie Pop, Indie Rock
Styles: Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop
Album release: July 20, 2018
Record Label: Joyful Noise Recordings
01 Theme from O.Y.nisqatsi 0:55
02 How Do You Feel? 2:53
03 Whomever Watches You Sleep 3:40
04 Pirates and Monkeys 2:26
05 Hope in Your Eyes 3:24
06 Martin (Midori2tree) 4:02
07 Lemons and Tacos 1:59
08 Too Close to the Sun 4:02
09 Night Shop 3:41
10 Prelude to O.Y.nisqatsi 0:56
11 O.Y.nisqatsi 3:37
12 Bionic Whale 3:34
13 This Heart 6:43
℗© 2018 Joyful Noise Recordings & Optiganally Yours
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares; Score: ****
♦δ♦ Though a whopping 18 years separate Optiganally Yours’ second album Optiganally Yours Presents: Exclusively Talentmaker and its follow~up O.Y. in Hi~Fi, the duo never disappeared completely. Rob Crow and Pea Hix contributed to a slew of compilations in the early 2000s, then resurfaced a decade later to tour. During that time, they tinkered on their third album while Crow worked with Pinback and Goblin Cock and Hix established himself as a composer in San Diego’s theater scene and helped preserve the history of the Optigan. That included salvaging the original recordings used to make the discs the Optigan plays from a garage shortly after the release of Talentmaker. Hix and Crow sampled those recordings to make O.Y. in Hi~Fi, hence the album’s name: The Optigan’s unmistakably hissy, canned sound has been stripped away and replaced with crystal~clear sonics. Considering how much the Optigan’s inherent limitations and wheezy sound heightened the whimsy and poignancy of Crow and Hix’s first two albums, it’s a risky choice. Fortunately, O.Y. in Hi~Fi proves Optiganally Yours don’t need to use their namesake instrument to make charming, witty songs. It’s fun to hear the source recordings without any snaps, crackles, or pops on “Pirates and Monkeys” and “Night Shop,” a pair of breezy bossa nova~tinged tracks that hint at the mid~20th century exotica craze with bongos and marimba. The recordings’ early~‘70s origins also come through on the smooth funk~pop of “How Do You Feel?,” which feels akin to Odelay~era Beck, and on “Hope in Your Eyes,” a pizzicato string~laden soft rock ballad that’s one of the duo’s catchiest moments. Several songs sound like classic Optiganally Yours, just tuned in a little more clearly: Crow’s voice remains a soothing counterpoint to all the activity surrounding him on the bright, busy “Whomever Watches You Sleep.” “Martin (midori2tree)” — which has been kicking around since the late ‘90s — is still a great example of the duo’s sweetly winding melodies and holds its own with the album’s newer material. Despite the amount of time it took to make and release, O.Y. in Hi~Fi isn’t just a time capsule. Crow and Hix find new ways of balancing mischievous kitsch like the accordion fantasia “Lemons and Tacos” with more serious fare such as the hypnotic “Too Close to the Sun” and the moving closing track “This Heart.” In some ways, it’s a small miracle that O.Y. in Hi~Fi even exists, and even if it’s less kooky than Optiganally Yours’ previous music, it shows they know the difference between being unique and a mere novelty.
Artist Biography by Heather Phares
♦δ♦ Optiganally Yours began with Pea Hix’s (formerly of Tit Wrench and Lucas & Friend) fascination with the Optigan, a keyboard manufactured in the early and mid~‘70s by Mattel. An “optical organ,” the Optigan stores its sounds — which range from organs and strings to drum loops and sound effects — on a collection of celluloid optical discs. Hix found his first Optigan in 1995 at a Salvation Army and eventually added a dozen more to his arsenal. He recruited his friend Rob Crow (ex~Heavy Vegetable and also a member of Thingy, Pinback, and Physics) as a collaborator, and the duo’s debut album, Spotlight on Optiganally Yours, arrived two years later; its blend of spare, indie pop songwriting and production and strangely lush arrangements won critical acclaim from the likes of NME, CMJ, Melody Maker, and Cool & Strange Music Mag, among other publications. The group also contributed tracks to a benefit album for East Timor and March Records’ Reproductions: Songs of the Human League before releasing their second full~length, Optiganally Yours Presents: Exclusively Talentmaker!, in early 2000 on Absolutely Kosher Records. On this album the duo played the Vako Orchestron and the Chilton Talentmaker, which were slightly varied descendants of the original Optigan.
|O.Y. in Hi~Fi|
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