OKIDOKI - When Oki Meets Doki

Okidoki - When Oki Meets Doki

6 songs
38:19 minutes
***** ***
Atypeek / Linoleum


Founded by composer, saxophonist and clarinettist Laurent Rochelle, Okidoki are a French/Belgian band with a German singer. A first instrumental EP came out in 2014, followed two years later by their debut album Si tu regardes, which featured jazz vocalist Anja Kowalski. Now they are back with a second and rather long EP titled When Oki Meets Doki, on which they have reduced their line-up to three musicians – Laurent Rochelle on soprano saxophone and bass clarinet, Frédéric Schadoroff on piano and Eric Boccalini on drums – and joined again by the marvellous voice of Ms. Kowalski.

The EP consists of five tracks, all between five and eight minutes long, plus a remix of one of their songs. The generous length of the songs allow the band to fully delve into their joyous genre they label themselves as dream jazz. The opener Le voyage improbable de l’insondable Haruki shows the band’s affinity for contemporary Japanese culture, so that the EP might as well have been titled when Miyazaki meets Murakami, according to their record label. As you might have noticed, there are no guitars or bass guitars present, and yet the rather austere instrumentation still allows the band to sometimes erupt into wonderful flourishes. Anja Kowalksi is an outstanding artist, and she switches between a melodic singing voice and experimental noise making that add a strange texture to the music. The wind instruments provide even more melodies, sometimes nice and pretty, but just as often just beyond the merely harmonic, showing the band’s adherence to more avant-garde varieties of jazz and classical music. The piano is often very rhythmic, just like the drums, driving the music through the unlikeliest time signatures.

My roots lie more in rock than in jazz and classical music, which I have come to enjoy too with advanced age. My points of reference are therefore mostly the mid-Seventies, with artists like Robert Wyatt and Dagmar Krause coming to mind. In fact Anja Kowalksi’s vocals share the singing techniques of Robert Wyatt and the sometimes severe Germanic intonation of Dagmar Krause who lent her voice to bands like Slapp Happy, Henry Cow, Art Bears and News From Babel, just to name a few. So you need an interest in more experimental music, and yet Okidoki know that it’s also important to inject enough melodic components into their music to make it also accessible for fans of more straightforward music, provided they come with an open mind to Okidoki. I may have started out as a sceptic but in due time became totally mesmerised by When Oki Meets Doki and am looking already forward to future music from this intriguing jazz quartet.

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