The Oslo Deadtrash Project is the sole creation
of Belgian (not Norwegian) Pierre Lejeune with a little help
from his friends (for "friends" read - some machines and a
girly singer). The effect is absolutely delightful. In many
ways, this is more than just a project, it's a conceptual manifesto.
All manner of slogans adorn the digipac and website. Slogans
such as 'Electronik Pop Koncept Melancholy Disc' and 'The Oslo
Deadtrash Project Is A Suicidal Draft' begin to paint an overall
picture of the music we can expect. Nothing thrashy about this
music as the name might suggest. Instead we're treated to tender,
heartbreak pop songs wrapped in retro electronica.
Headpixel Data is drenched in pathos. There's
something very evocative within the abundance of Moog and Organ
that would make this record ideal accompaniment for the wistful,
rain-blurred, reminiscence of a lonely lighthouse-keeper. Yet
believe me when I say there is something heartwarming about
the sorrow being conveyed here. Depressive Lejeune may be,
but depressing? Never.
What is it like? Short answer, Boards
of Canada meets Styrofoam. Long answer: Imagine somebody messing around with the time-signatures on an old keyboard - employing hissy 4/4's cha-chas, rhumbas etc until they hit upon a slightly Lynchian, 'end of the Pier' sound. The closest comparison might be something like OMD's Motion and Heart. After which, they then proceed to write wonderful, sentimental, lo-fi pop songs using the aforementioned keyboards.
I'm strongly reminded of early The The, especially on tracks such as the delicious In Love And Sad which could be related to the wonderful Uncertain Smile single. The, almost Gallic, marine keys are not dissimilar to fellow Belgian lo-fi compatriots Girls In Hawaii. In fact any amateurism we might expect from this album is belied by the strength of songwriting on display. Ultramicroscopic could be Badly Drawn Boy on a budget. The Supporter has echoes of Starsailor's Four To The Floor melody, a song that was massive in mainland Europe.
There are other standout tracks. Rallyman is a terrific builder. Kings of Taxonomy is an intensely personal slow burner with its "you're stoned, on your own" lyric. Today (Rotten for desk enrol) evokes memories of Colin
Newman's Commercial Suicide, a record which itself too holds strong links with Belgium. The real relevance being, that was another album loaded with skilful, melodic songwriting against slightly unexpected musical backing.
A word about the label - Carte Postal is quietly becoming the lowlands answer
to Morr. I have noticed too how prolific Lejeune is. The Oslo Deadtrash Project
is one of many projects he is, or has been, involved in. Knowing, as I do,
the speed at which he is able to put out work like this and other releases
(digital downloads, collaborations, etc),this suggests something of genius
to me. It's well worth bookmarking his website.
Alternatively whimsical and
forlorn, Headpixel Data is quickly on the charm offensive and
improves with each subsequent play. Should have called it The Comforts