Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bossa Super Nova review by Ned Ragget

Bossa Super Nova was described upon release as being the last Antena album of three, which given the two decade plus break between the first two might be seen as a bit of a career acceleration. But Isabelle Antena has always been happily content to follow her muse either on her own or in group mode, and Bossa Super Nova -- her second collaboration with her daughter Penelope under the group name, following 2006's Toujours du Soleil -- is an easygoing treat of a release, another instance of the understated Brazilian pop grooves that Antena has always openly loved coming to the fore in her own inspired way. With further collaborative help musically and lyrically from a childhood friend of Isabelle's, Jean-Christophe Clair, Antena approached Bossa Super Nova in much the same way that Depeche Mode did with the previous year's Sounds of the Universe, intentionally taking technology and equipment from the band's earliest days to reexplore them for a different songwriting and arrangement approach. So instead of the heavily shrouded in reverb stylings of Camino del Sol, the early drum machines and keyboards here stand out much more crisply, while Antena's vocals similarly are of her as the accomplished and experienced performer rather than the young enthusiast out to see what might work. Songs like the insect-buzz tinged "Happy in My Garden" aim for the sweetly dreamy while "Straight to the Point," a giddy celebration of Serge Gainsbourg, becomes a frug-worthy acid rock confection suitable for the French legend in his late sixties days. The combination of science fiction bliss ("Amour Cosmique," "Une Francaise sur Mars") and reflective nostalgia ("Hollywood is Dead," a lament for lost stars of the past) makes for another excellent Antena album, once more. Ned Raggett.

Bossa Super Nova-record collector review

Antena - Bossa Super Nova

Med-tempo bossa

Antena began broadcasting in 1982 with a gender-switched re-tooling of the classic The Girl From Ipanema, with synth minimalist John Foxx behind the controls. Their debut LP, Camino De Sol, followed in 1983. As the years passed, Antena delivered a number of singles and albums, chortling out a mix of electronic dalliance and exotic sounds.

If you’re a fan of Stereolab, Saint Etienne and Louis Phillipe – or even Stock Hausen & Walkman – you’ll know what this French act sound like. This third album can leave you cold at first, which, considering that this type of music is all about mood, is probably something of an indictment. Repeat plays, however, will allow the simple melodies and refrains to get under your skin like a warm Mediterranean sun. While the references to Pink Floyd and Atom Heart Mother (vocal, not musical) are a bit too contrived, Straight To The Point is a wonderful tribute (vocal and musical) to Serge Gainsbourg; it’s one to download. The rest of the album motors along just beneath the speed limit, though Leaving Las Vegas and Amour Cosmique get the heart racing.

LTMCD | 2554

Reviewed by Ian Shirley