Polyvinyl Records, 2012
Review by Kent Manthie
Harouki Zombi is the name of the neo-disco project featuring Nina Barnes (of Montreal, Apollinaire Rave Art) and Orenda Fink, (Azure Ray, O+S), Objet Petit. This is their first official full-length CD released on the same great Chicago-based label, Polyvinyl Records as of Montreal is on.
Barnes, besides being a sometime-member of the of Montreal set also happens to be the wife of the frontman of Athens, GA’s of Montreal, Kevin Barnes, the “electric-kool-aid-acid” band that’s been frying brains now for about 15 years or so and as a kick start for her success, Kevin even wrote one of the tunes on Objet Petit. There’s been a lot of interesting history between the two of them, which I won’t get into here, although it’s been grist for some of the outré music that of Montreal have put out in the past 5 years or so.
Their debut, Objet Petit, features only four original cuts plus two remixes of the title cut, one is a Rewards remix and the other is a Deniallabs remix. The CD could definitely have benefited from some more tunes – a little more variety – but with what we’ve got there’s a good vibe going.
The whole Harouki Zombi project is founded on the idea of DJ-ing geishas, with both Fink and Barnes doing their share of DJ-ing as well as singing, although credit goes to Nina for the “lead” vocals.
Their live performances are visually stimulating, spontaneous and thrilling, to say the least. The whole geisha-get-up is quite the novelty, with both women looking lovely as ever in their Kabuki-style make-up, kimonos and obis.
The idea of making music via the DJ-way (sampling sounds, spinning vinyl etc.) came from Orenda Fink’s husband, Todd, who, himself is a DJ-extraordinaire, having worked with The Faint, Depressed Buttons and Goo. The way the story goes is that, when the Finks were living in of Montreal’s turf of Athens, GA they suddenly had an “epiphany” – just as they were about to move back home to Omaha, NE. This led to the pair to look up at Todd onstage, then look to each other and say “let’s be DJs!” Fink responded to this by replying “yes, but let’s be geishas too!” The rest, as they say, is history. The two collaborated, came up with some interesting pieces and put them together with the help of Kevin Barnes, who wrote Vacated Hunters, a song that has a typical of Montreal feel to it.
The other three songs have a decidedly more disco-esque vibe to them, although not in a retro way, but in a forward-looking, technological-era, head-spinning, heart-palpitating, dance mix. The music is very, very electronic – no guitars, drums or bass here – all synths and computerized sounds, the talent is in the way they were all put together and the seemingly ease of it, belying the arduous task of getting every beat and every little sound just right.
No idea at the present time what is in store for the future of Harouki Zombi, but I think it’s enough to just get out on the dance floor and enjoy Objet Petit for now. It’s also not at all surprising that this would come from the womb of of Montreal, so to speak. Both bands have an inordinate amount of tricks up their sleeve and both weave magical spells with their trance-like, mystery musical visions.
If I’ve piqued your interest, let me direct you to the Polyvinyl Records website, where you can order a copy online – either a hard-copy CD by mail or an instant-gratifying MP3 copy – just go to www.polyvinylrecords.com and look for the Harouki Zombi album cover – it’s on their front page right now, since it’s brand new – but you can also do a search within their site for “Harouki Zombi”, which will bring you to their album. From there you can inspect some of the music before you buy and when you’re convinced it’s for you, just order it right from there.
Here’s hoping that we’ll get a longer, more in-depth CD by Harouki Zombi in the future! For now, though, listen to Objet Petit and lose yourself in its mind-numbing delicacy. –KM.