If there is a country in Europe (next to Finland) being responsible for a lot of exciting releases lately, it?s Belgium. This album (his third) by Niko Usk? is a stunner. Describing Usk??s sound is next to impossible because it?s so weird. Think of a hyperactive child in a room full of neatly arranged toys. 10 seconds into this record, the room is messy as hell.
Judging from his name and the songtitles, I assume that Usk? comes from the Vallonian part of Belgium. He might even sing in French which I can?t tell because his singing is completely incomprehensible. Apparently, most of the sounds on the album were played by Niko Usk? himself and then arranged. I hear various brass and lots of toy instruments, piano, guitar, flutes, vibes and whatever else might have been lying around his studio. If you care for anything even slightly resembling structure, you?re certainly at the wrong address. This is as chaotic as I can imagine and that?s exactly what I love about ?Niko et la Berlue.? I can?t even write about a single song because it?s so hard to get hold of them. A tune might start with a complete mess of screeching electronics, melodica and Usk??s falsetto voice. 20 seconds later, it?s somewhat of a ballad. Another 20 seconds later, it?s something different again. Check out the seven minutes of ?Tout se d?tache.? There?s about ten different songs hidden in one. I kept scratching my head trying to remember what the last minute of the song sounded like.
Even though this is an entirely new sound to me and like nothing I?ve ever heard before, it does go in line with some other releases on the Sonig label. Sonig?s other Belgians, the Baudoux brothers (one way or the other involved in Fan Club Orchestra, Scratch Pet Land and DJ Elephant Power) make music that is not that different to Usk? in its overall feel. Playful and childlike are attributes that spring to mind. But at the same time, Usk? as well as the Baudoux brothers shows a large talent for melody and musicality. That said, I?m looking forward to even more thrilling releases by the Belgian folks in 2006. 8/10 -- Stephan Bauer (27 June, 2006)