Techno/dance/electronica is a genre of music that often receives a bad rap. This statement obviously does not apply to everybody but in general I have encountered a lot of people that hate music dealing with any electronics what so ever. Whenever I ask them why they dislike electronica or techno music they simply say that it gets boring after a few listens and there is no intensity. I must admit, techno music does wear thin after just a few listens. The heavy beats and zany electronic noises get repetitive after just a few listens. If someone ever asked me for some experimental techno music I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything very interesting or entertaining. This annoyed the hell out of me.
I would have been a lot better off if I would have discovered Ok Cowboy a lot sooner then I actually did. I say this because it is hands down one of the most interesting and entertaining techno albums that has ever been released. If you believe that electronica music is boring and repetitive then I suggest you get your hands on Ok Cowboy, because it is an intense and amusing ride from beginning to end.
Before I start to pick out the little things about the album let me get to the basics. Ok Cowboy is a techno album featuring heavy influences of electronica and dance. Most of these tracks have a dark and somewhat eerie feeling. The music is upbeat and quick paced for the most part, it gets the adrenaline going just like many other techno albums. You can take two tracks off of this album, and they will sound completely different, Vitalic changes things up constantly and nothing will be repeated throughout the course of the album.
Now, what exactly makes Ok Cowboy such an interesting and different techno album? Maybe it’s because the albums name is extremely similar to Radioheads Ok Computer. I guess it took some guts to do something like that, mocking a classic album and being a techno artist while doing so. If this guy wanted to get some attention he got it. Vitalic (aka Pascal Arbez) not only came up with a clever album title, he also created something completely different. Just take a look at the opening track. ‘Polkamatic’ is a blend of polka and techno music. A high pitched polka rhythm kicks things off, and then Arbez throws in a simple beat. This is basically what the whole track is composed of, a simple beat and some high pitched polka sounds. Following this track the sound of Ok Cowboy changes up yet again. ‘Poney pt.1' is a sluggish song featuring a slow, eerie beat followed by a smooth keyboard crescendo. It’s acid like beat gives it a trippy vibe and it sounds like a quick paced techno song slowed down. The closest that this album gets to becoming electronica is ‘Trahison’ a soft tune featuring spacey effects and a nice little beat. Arbez creates a soothing beat along with various electronic effects, just the way things should be done.
‘My Friend Dario’ was the first single released off this album, and possibly the strangest and most interesting track that Arbez has ever created. The song is supposed to take you on an exhilarating car ride and it actually does a damn good job at it. Monotone, hypnotic vocals play throughout the song and they dominate the quick paced beat. Throughout the whole track you are put in sort of a trance and feel like you are a passenger in a car. ‘Poney pt.2' sounds like something that would come out of a Robocop movie. It’s sort of like an upbeat version of the first Poney track, but electronic vocals come in and give the song an eerie vibe. The albums closer ‘Valletta Fanfares’ focuses on vicious drum rolls and timpani are also used. The track ends ‘Ok Cowboy’ with a bang and shows off some excellent percussion work.
‘Ok Cowboy’ is a fairly accessible album considering the circumstances. The most interesting thing about this album is how it has so many dark and eerie moments yet you will still be compelled to get up and dance. Arbez creates simple beats, but he throws in odd electronic sounds, trippy effects, and slows down certain parts in a song to get an atmospheric feel. This can get tedious at points just because the music changes up quite a bit and you won’t be able to “get your groove on" because some of these tracks can be slow at points. That being said ‘Ok Cowboy’ is possibly the least repetitive techno album I have ever listened to.
While ‘Ok Cowboy’ can be inconsistent and quite detached at moments it is one of the most memorable and acid influenced techno albums of the past ten years. Pascal Arbez experiments with different beats, rhythms, and genres. In result you get a hypnotic, trippy, quick paced techno album featuring some heavily textured rhythms and beats. The music changes pace quickly, one song can be a dreamy track filled with soothing electronics and the track following it could be a heavy dance tune. ‘Ok Cowboy’ is an excellent techno album and it is a must have for those of you who are fans of electronica and techno music. If you are new to the genre then you might want to look into this, I mean the opening tracks features a smooth blend of polka and techno...what more do you want?