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Old 07-17-2009, 02:45 AM   #107 (permalink)
Zarko
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Chinoiseries - Onra (2007)


GENRES - Hip-Hop, Experimental

Tracks
Introduction - 1:04
The Anthem - 1:49
Chop Your Hands - 2:04
Relax In Mui Ne - 2:14
Naughty Hottie (Interlude) - 0:39
Eat Dog - 1:13
Last Tango In Saigon - 1:31
Apocalypse Now - 1:16
I Wanna Go Back - 3:13
Full Backpack - 1:10
War - 0:58
Lesson With The Master - 0:50
Dark Sea - 1:50
Phuoc Dat (Interlude) - 0:53
Boundless Boundaries - 2:14
What Up Duyet? - 1:29
Welcome To Viet Nam - 0:37
Here Comes The Flutes - 2:11
The Vallee Of Love - 2:07
Smoking Buddha - 2:03
Clap Clap - 2:17
Bounce (Interlude) - 0:40
Live From Hue - 1:08
Where's My Longan? - 1:38
Take A Ride - 2:01
Raw - 1:42
The Ritual - 1:22
Cymbal Oelek - 0:50
The Third Sword (Interlude) - 0:37
One Day - 1:24
The Got Breaks Too - 1:52
Hope - 1:33

‘Chinoseries’ by Onra is A favourite from its finding my collection and a great hip hop album in general, with a pretty cool story behind it. Onra is a French who went to Vietnam (where his grandparents were from) as a cultural and heritage trip. When in Saigon, he purchased a whole bunch of vinyls, primarily old, most of which were poor quality, and started mixing and matching for this fantastic result. Now, I am hardly going to do a song by song review when he has a whopping 32 songs present, most of which don’t even break the 2 minute mark. The result is incredibly interesting, even if most don’t like the generally short songs and sometimes repetitive nature of the album.

‘Introduction’ begins the album quite inauspiciously for what has been promised. Its only contains the most subtle of hints at the sampling that Onra would use. The base beats have a hint of South Asia sounds but nothing distinct. ‘The Anthem’ on the other hand makes it blatantly obvious, with a classical folk tune mixed with high quality. It IS the Anthem for the album (even if it isn’t my favourite track from the album), and its good in that the beats don’t dominate the samples used, rather they work together with great balance.

‘Chop Your Hands’ is another fantastic track, grainy and crackling throughout, following a basic guitar line, it never does anything HUGE or breaks outs, but its quality lies in the subtleties present. ‘Relax in Mui Ne’ is another folky mix, with an elegant vocalist throughout. ‘Eat Dog’ uses a classic kung fu soundtrack to introduce the song, reminiscent of Wu-Tang ’36 Chambers’. ‘Last Tango in Saigon’ is another track that is favoured by its repetitive but short nature, which leads into ‘Apocalypse Now’, a fantastic little beat (I don’t know if it’s a reference to the movie, likely though). This is followed by the longest track on the album, I Wanna Go Back’, at a whopping 3 minutes and 12 seconds, which contains more general hip hop sounds rather than having the samples dominate. It is probably the grainiest and rawest track out of the lot as well, but it’s probably a bit long for the relatively small amounts of progression throughout.

‘Full Backpack’ and ‘War’ are another great pair of tracks, but they are short enough for the lack of progression not to weight them down too much (combined reaching only a minute), and in particular ‘War’ is a favourite of mine. Opening with a call out from an unknown person, it is a memorable track from an album that generally has a lot of great short moments, before slowly fading out. ‘Dark Sea’ uses some nice ocean samples to build a dark and foreboding surrounding.

‘Boundless Boundaries’ is a nice quieter track, subdued partially due to the quality of the vinyl. ‘Whats Up Duyet?’ opens as a fast paced old school Viet-pop song, before fading into an upbeat dream pop beat, filled occasionally with a discussion between a male and a female. ‘Welcome To Vietnam’ opens with probably the most clichéd tune you can pull out of Asia, before being pulled into a nice and simple beat based around classical Vietnam strings before fluidly transitioning to ‘Here Comes The Flutes’, which is full of weird and wonderfully abstract composition and percussion. The heavy metallic drumming in particular is a treat.

‘The Vallee Of Love’ is exactly what it sounds like as a sample, an upbeat lovey dovey beat that is nonetheless entertaining. ‘Smoking Buddha’ is another interesting track, where most things seem far off, due to the loud crackling, but the way it is mixed is pretty cool if you listen to the details. ‘Clap Clap’ signals the final of four consecutive songs over 2 minutes, but it is probably my least favourite track on the album. Here’s a hint, it involves clapping and saying ‘clapping’ . ‘Live From Hue’ opens with all the dramatic sounds you need before trailing into a heavier beat, which transitions into an sad vocal performance at the start of ‘Where’s My Longan?’.

‘Take A Ride’ is a relapse of a few ideas already traveled in the album, at a more subdued level (Surprising he could even reach that considering the originals were fairly studied anyway…). ‘Raw’ is a magnificent track, abstract, to the point of almost making you think your headphones are broken. Nothing is balanced, but that’s what makes it good. ‘The Ritual’, which is representative of the old festival dances and music performed at ceremonies that have become so easy to find in the modern day. ‘Cymbal Oelek’ is another disjointed track, which is fairly cool for its 50 seconds.

‘One Day’ is another traditional hip hop sounds, with the samples cutting in and out of the base beat, which I quite liked, almost forcing you to be in two minds at once. ‘They Got Breaks Too’ begins with an almost bugs bunny-esque theme break breaking down into a dirty groove, and opening back up to a folk-pop song being sampled. The album is sent off with ‘Hope’, a stereotypical dreamy sample, living up to its name beautifully, and it’s a nice ending.

‘Chinoiseries’ is a pretty difficult album to review purely because 32 songs averaging 1 minute 30 each. Obviously this won’t be everyone's cup of tea, due to lack of progression through not only the songs, but the album as well, and the occasional repetitive nature to the tracks. In all that though I found a hip hop album I liked a lot, which uses traditional sounds and ideas from Vietnam and various other southern Asian countries to paint a rich tapestry of the history/culture and beauty of Onra’s ancestor’s homeland. Cool album cover as well.

8.4/10


– The Anthem
– War
– Dark Sea
– Here Come The Flutes

Sorry it took so long for an update BTW. Sorta winged this one
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