"Playthings" (Album, 2005)
Sometimes websites use HTML code to randomly select content to pop up on their pages. It's a great way to allow chance to throw something in your path you may otherwise have never found. The Music-Non-Stop website does this. I had the good fortune to land on their homepage one day and Leeloo Kobayashi's Playthings album was one such piece of content plucked from the obscurity of the digital ether. The name and the understated sleeve design stood out and it wasn't long before I was listening to the MP3 track samples. The jumbled electronica I heard was more fascinating than compelling, but intriguing enough that I just had to hear those tracks in full before I could judge the album as a whole. A purchase was swiftly made.
Leeloo Kobayashi is, the astute among you will not be surprised to learn, an alias. Behind the project lay Andreas Thein of Propaganda fame and Jono Podmore. The slightly unhinged dystopian-with-a-wink electronica soundtrack that unfurls is often more entertaining and fascinating than successful, but that won't stop me recommending this to those who like their leftfield and unpredictable.
Greedy is like a schizophrenic relation of Tik+Tok's 2007 album Dream Orphans. Two covers appear: Brian Eno's Baby's On Fire - sardonic electronica at its finest, whereas the grungy take on Iggy Pop's Nightclubbing sounds remarkably similar to, but not quite as good as The Human League's version from 1981. The Jungle Plays is very Daniel Myer and features Stephen (Cabaret Voltaire) Mallinder on vocals, and Sex Is A Virus could easily be an outtake from Pacifica's Modern Technology Meets Sexual Obsession album, whilst the quirky bounces and bleeps of Dynamo 5 sound straight out of a hip Tokyo post-techno nightclub.
But it's Baderbooum that flies the flag for the project being the most successful coupling of Kobayashi's potentially disparate influences and tastes. It was the key track that pulled me into the purchase in the first place and remains its strongest selling point. Mashing up the theme from Rigg-era The Avengers with a choice Dr Mabuse sample courtesy of Propaganda is all the proof you need of the inspired abilities to concoct the uncommon that Thein has.
Seems Playthings was the summation of Leeloo Kobayashi's output and whilst part of me hankers to hear more results of such a creatively rich approach to composition, at the same time I suspect that the maxim 'too much of a good thing' would also apply. So, though variable in its success rate over the entire course of the album, nevertheless, this still deserves attention for its creativity and boundary smashing attitude. 7/10
Rob Dyer (June 2009)