reviewed by Michael Thomas
Montreal’s Chocolat may have one of the most un-Googleable band names of all time, but that aura of mystery also covers their music and the concept of Rencontrer Looloo, their latest album. I’ve probably described dozens of albums over the years as “a trip,” and I’ve probably also described numerous albums that are specifically trips into space; but few bands take such strange trips through genre and lyrical content as Chocolat do.
This album should, judging by its thematic content, be a straight psych-rock album. We are introduced to vibrating pyramids, a long-lost Golden Age, interdimensional beings and androids. Of course, we also meet (but not until later) the titular Looloo, who is traveling through space with a falcon and is a member of a metal band. And while there is certainly some psychedelic elements to Rencontrer Looloo, it also dips into ambient music, Krautrock, jazz and synth-pop.
There’s certainly a journey here, but the endpoint and the actual process is left intentionally vague. Before Looloo first appears in “Retrouver Looloo,” there’s a lot of mystery to ponder. For an album that touches on space and other universes, it’s an interesting choice to start with a song called “On est meilleurs qu’R.E.M.” It’s rooted in jazz and its hazy beat obscures lyrics about liking oil sands, old hockey players and cherry Coke. But the tempo quickly speeds up for “Ah ouin,” which in some universe could be a love song but here comes across as kind of frightening.”Golden Age” is almost metal in its intensity, and is a hint of things to come.
From “Retrouver Looloo” onward, the journey is through space. It’s another blazing rock song, but it’s punctuated by a strange anomaly, “Koyaanisqatsi (Apparation),” a completely instrumental number that dips into the well of ambient horror. As “Looloo” continues the saga of our space-faring friend, a pit stop on “Mars” may briefly put us into a dreamlike state. The final three songs bring us firmly from psych-rock into the last song, “Les mésanges,” for which I will leave for you to translate in English. It’s also rooted in jazz, a nice book-end to the interstellar journey of the album.
Where does Looloo go in the end? Who exactly is Looloo and why is Looloo is in space? We’ll never know, but Looloo is the guide we need through this wonderful tempest of genre.
Top Tracks: “Golden Age”; “Looloo”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)