Lev Gankine 8-Sep-2006 Subtle Sabotage

There are two types of obscurities: those that are hyped to death and thus fetch fortunes on collector's market, and those that are still almost totally unknown even among the vinyl diggers. The bizarrely named Mon Ami n'Oxydays (also referred to as just M.A.O.) sure belong to the latter category - their one and only LP outing, released on a tiny Aural Blancmange label in the early 1980s in a blank white sleeve, will hardly ring a bell for most collectors. Despite a French-sounding name, M.A.O. actually hailed from Scotland and that's about all we've got to know about them - any other info concerning their sole album is still shaded with mystery. Myself, I've bought this LP because of the Faust comparison used by the seller in his ad, and while in fact it is nothing like Faust, I don't regret the purchase at all. What we come across on Subtle Sabotage" is a weird and demanding mix of period post-punk (think Television, Talking Heads and the likes) and strange electronic burbles and squeaks which provide a striking contrast to the mostly quite simple and melodic nature of the songs. The shorter tracks are particularly unusual and quite exciting, sounding as moody loner psych ditties of the late 60s stuffed with layers of synth effects. On the other hand, during the extended instrumental tracks M.A.O. sounds almost like a spacerock band (Hawkwind meets Mars Everywhere), albeit with a charming DIY-attitude characteristic of the era. While not as creepy and radical as the famous Imperial Pompadours LP, "Subtle Sabotage" is a wonderful document of its time, and one of the more interesting albums within a deranged post-punk aesthetic also epitomized by bands such as Deep Freeze Mice and Swell Maps. I can't imagine this one reissued on CD, but the original LP can be still had for cheap as of this writing.

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