When Raleigh’s abstract pop quintet, Oulipo, debuted with That Is What I Said (And I Dove Into The Water) in 2011, they landed a spot at Hopscotch within the next month. And after the subsequent release of 2012’s Primitive Ways, the high energy of their experimentation was still present but it needed to go somewhere deeper. Looking back on Oulipo’s earlier music, frontman Ryan Trauley says, “I didn’t really have anything I needed to say.” Kisses To The Sky, their latest release with DiggUp Tapes, finds Oulipo being aggressively direct. The rhythm section is heavy, the guitars are sometimes raunchy, and the the keys shimmer and skid. And Kisses also has this undeniable subtle 80’s sheen. Mixed by the legendary Mitch Easter, Kisses finds Oulipo still fascinated with the curious, there’s squealing saxophone and industrial beats. “Dolphins” has Trauley crooning over layers of twinkling electronics, while “Nite Legs” takes a spectral turn with a looping reversed falsetto. But maybe more importantly, Kisses feels like this is what Oulipo had to say. Oulipo has emerged with an urgency and clearer vision. As Trauley sings on “Nite Legs,” “the boy’s a new man.” Kisses To The Sky is a confident and ruthless record and according to Trauley it’s best enjoyed while taking a night drive, preferably on I-40.
Last film I saw: I’ve watched a bunch of Fellini recently , 8 ½ and La Dolce Vita. I also just watched The Apartment. And I just watched The Red Shoes last night. It’s Technicolor and it looks fucking beautiful. It was made during the era when they first starting using Technicolor and the film has this lurid rich color. It has such a distinct look that can’t be replicated now.
First album I bought with my own money: Citizen King. Their song “Better Days” was on Tony Hawk Pro Skater when I was 11 or 12. But the album was a less good version of 90’s Beck or Cake or something stupid. They were one hit wonders. I remember “Better Days” being the only song I liked on the record and being really disappointed.
Pet peeves: People that don’t appreciate good lighting. Maybe it’s a guy thing or maybe it’s not specific to anyone but I feel like every time I’ve ever gone into any guys place, they just have those shitty overhead lights on. They just look bad, make everyone look bad, and it’s not a conducive atmosphere for anything. It’s not like you need nice lamps, you just need lamps. I don’t like bad lighting. Overhead lights are just ugly and not necessary and I don’t know why people are OK with it. I find it really detrimental.
Favorite music video: I really like the Kate Bush video for “Cloudbusting.” It’s her acting with Donald Sutherland, who’s one of my favorite actors, and she’s playing his son. I also like the cheap gritty rap video aesthetic from the early 90’s. Like “My Mind Playing Tricks On Me” by Geto Boys and “Cream” by Wu-Tang.
Senior Superlative: I won “Most Artistic.” In high school, I made a lot of movies with my friends and we got stuff on the announcements. I probably lobbied for that superlative too.
Ringtone: I definitely don’t have one. It’s been on vibrate the whole time I’ve had it.
Favorite directors: It’s hard not to say Stanley Kubrick because The Shining is probably my favorite movie. I probably watch it once a year. When I was younger, I watched it more than that. I love the Coen Brothers a lot. I’m into Billy Wilder too. He was behind a lot of the essential older stuff like Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard, and The Apartment.
Dream collaboration: I’d be more interested in seeing the creative process of the artists I admire rather than collaborating with them. If I could just be in the sessions for when D’angelo was recording Voodoo or when Dylan did those one or two night sessions for Blood on the Tracks or when Steely Dan was doing Aja. I’d just be interested in being there and watching it happen.
The release party for Kisses is this Saturday at Kings. Carrboro’s art-synth quartet, Dad & Dad, and Raleigh’s reigning darkwave queen, blursome, open. Show starts at 9pm. $5. Click here for event info.