As with Dowe and Hofler’s Illegal Art label mate, Girl Talk, Oh Astro incorporates a multitude of samples into its intricate sonic blanket. Get out your copy of Champions of Wonder or stream the record HERE and follow along this list of sources.
Champions of Wonder Sample Sources (STREAM):
01. “Snow Queen” – Ratatat “Desert Eagle” and Lily Allen “Everything Is Wonderful”
02. “Hello Fuji Boy” – Hot Chip “Boy From School,” Fujiya & Miyagi “Ankle Injuries,” and Lionel Richie “Hello”
03. “Lucy Sees The Moon” – Lucy (our daughter) sings the lyrics to children's song “I See The Moon” and it is filtered through Deanna Durbin “Amapola” and Bing Crosby “If I Had My Way”
04. “Candy Sun Smiles” – Busdriver “Sun Shower,” Gnarls Barkley “Gone Daddy Gone,” and Electronic “Getting Away With It”
05. “Empty Air” – only source is Jim O'Rourke “Good Times”
06. “Xanadu” – Jane Dowe sings the lyrics to “Xanadu” in sync with the original song (originally sung by Olivia Newton John with music by Electric Light Orchestra) filtered through Electronic “Get The Message” (strumming guitar intro) and Xiu Xiu “Bishop, CA”. Background contains samples from Pan Tone “Gringo Grinder” and The Killers “Somebody Told Me” (guitar pluck).
07. “Journey To The Center” – Remix of ROC “Journey to the Center of Brixton” (authorized), along with additional drum parts from Stefen Robinson (aka Yea Big).
08. “Itch Box” – Remix of Yea Big “Please Die, and Leave Me Alone” (authorized), which samples vocals from a chain-gang chant from the film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? Also contains vocal sample from the ROC track, additional drum parts from Stefen Robinson and a synthesized harmonic progression from Tristan Hansen (a student of mine).
09. “Robot Love I Love You” – Ella (our daughter) sings her own lyric filtered through the Japanese children's song “Inu No Omawarisan” as recorded on the compilation Doikono Douyou.
10. “Quiet Mouth” – only source is Sufjan Stevens “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”
11. “Pet Apples” – only source is The Apples In Stereo “About Your Fame”
More about Oh Astro:
Married duo Jane Dowe and Hank Hofler are both rooted firmly in experimental music, but with the Oh Astro project they continue their move towards odd interpretations of popular forms. Club music, children’s songs, and fragmented samples of pop/rock all intersect on their first full-length album, Champions of Wonder, under the Oh Astro banner.
Jane Dowe entered the international electronic music scene in 1998 on two critical CD releases, Institutional Collaborative on Mille Plateaux, and Deconstructing Beck on Illegal Art. On Institutional Collaborative, Dowe and Terre Thaemlitz created abstract music that was described as a “table-tennis mixing game with ‘lounge’ and ambient soundclips” (The Wire). Dowe resurfaced in 2005 on Illegal Art with the debut Oh Astro mini-album, Hello World, which was hailed as “funky and pretty, Hello World’s bite-sized samples concoct a weird pop universe” (CMJ New Music Monthly). While Hank Hofler peripherally contributed to the project, it wasn’t until after Hello World that he became significant collaborator in Oh Astro. Besides creating music Dowe has also done installations in galleries internationally and codes idiosyncratic software for her various projects.
Hank Hofler’s first performances were in Japan as part of the live electronic improvisation scene from 1998-2001, playing shows with Japanese artists such as Otomo Yoshihide, Merzbow, Ikue Mori, and Sawako. As Dowe was too shy for live events, Hank’s earliest shows were actually performing as “Jane Dowe” (further confusing the identity of the pseudononymous Dowe). As he developed his own reputation, Hofler began to be billed under his own name, began street performing in Tokyo, and later also took on the live shows for Oh Astro. As a tenure-track professor, Hofler currently teaches in an Arts Technology program at Illinois State University. Both Hofler and Dowe hold advanced degrees from prestigious institutions such as Dartmouth College and Keio Univeristy (Japan), but have strong reservations about the esoteric qualities of academic art/music.
The purposely-pixilated digipak artwork for Champions of Wonder was created by the internationally known producer/artist Terre Thaemlitz utilizing illustrations by Aiko Tsuji. The physical release also contains surround sound mixes of the first three tracks by Aaron Paolucci (who also mastered the stereo mixes) that can be played on a computer connected to a 5.1 sound system.
One of the common techniques on Champions of Wonder is the manipulation of vocals by spectral software that is coded by Dowe and long-time mentor Christopher Penrose. Even the more experimental or ambient tracks contain ghostly sounds of vocals that have been stripped from their original context and placed into the pulsating electronic world of Oh Astro. The other common practice on the album is that every sound, with the exception of some of the vocals, is sampled from pre-existing recordings. The types of music sampled range from top 40 songs to indie hipster music to the obscure. In the end, it’s more about what is done with the sample than what was originally sampled.
With this release Illegal Art continues to challenge the restrictions of copyright as perceived by the larger music industry. The uniqueness of Oh Astro, along with other artists on the label (Girl Talk, Realistic, Steinski, P. Miles Bryson, Wobbly, Christopher Penrose, etc.), further illustrates that sample-based music is strikingly some of the most original, innovative, and exciting music being made in the 21st century. Illegal Art claims Fair Use for all of its releases and has professional legal counsel nearby if needed.
Champions of Wonder Tracklisting:
Stream The Album HERE
Release Date: Out Now
01. Snow Queen (MP3)
02. Hello Fuji Boy (MP3)
03. Lucy Sees the Moon
04. Candy Sun Smiles (MP3)
05. Empty Air
07. Journey To The Center (MP3)
08. Itch Box
09. Robot Love I Love You
10. Quiet Mouth
11. Pet Apples
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