To most producers/DJs, releasing a long-player every two years seems genuinely vital to their survival on the international electronic circuits. Oxia has chosen to go for rarity and excellence. Since completing his debut album, he has released underground hit after underground hit on Kompakt, Tsuba and 8bit and has been heralded by Beatport as the pacesetter on the French tech-house scene for an entire generation. Whether through melodic techno tracks – ‘Domino’ in 2006 – or more house ones, such as ‘Whole Life’ in 2010, Oxia has managed to capture last decade’s zeitgeist with surgical precision.
“24 Heures” – his first album, released in 2004 by Goodlife– had Detroit as a central influence. It clearly illustrated Olivier’s indebtedness to the hypnotic techno rhythms of Jeff Mills, UR and the deep electro dynamics of Other People Place, Drexciya or even Aux88. Much to the frustration of music lovers worldwide, it took eight long years for him to finally release “Tides of Mind” via InFiné.
Why wait so long before completing a new album? Maybe because he needed to find a new label, one with the potential to nurture his creative drive and growth. Ever since the demise of Goodlife, the label he had founded withAlexandre Reynaud and The Hacker in the late 90s, Olivier had been looking for a new home, a structure on which to bounce off ideas. A prerequisite for the never-complacent Olivier, who has been known to rework his tracks right up to the very last minute. And also because he wanted a deeper sound for his productions, while also asserting his own, eclectic approach to the electronic genre.
Not surprising then that he chose his Lyon friend Agoria’s imprint, as the label’s guiding principles are long-term artistic development and open-mindedness about music. Following both his heart and his head, the decision was an easy one to make. The two artists had known each other for many years and regularly shared the same stage in back-to-backs crystallising their close complicity. As for productions, Olivier offered Sébastien a remix of ‘Dust’, a track they had co-produced, as well as the previously unreleased ‘Less Time’ for Sébastien’s Balance mix-CD, a track InFiné was later to release. Although Agoria has now distanced himself from the label, the Oxia-InFiné adventure continues with “Tides of Mind”.
“I guess I’ve had a wider range of influences on this album. I started listening to a lot more jazz, classical music and folk." It doesn't mean Olivier has forgotten his earlier funk and soul influences, which give "Tides of Mind" that irresistible deep and groovy feel.
The jazz-referencing, relentless beat of ‘Rue Brusherie’ sees Olivier swing alongside Richard Gow on piano. Occasionally too he borrows certain aspects of early house, as is clear on ‘Flying Over Time’ and ‘Housewife’, which features Miss Kittin on vocals. And yet he ventures into other sub-genres just as gracefully. Alongside the more percussive ‘Latitude’ and the melodic and techno ‘Nightfall’, track ‘Harmonie’ is an emotional and modern deep-house gem in perfect harmony with the InFiné catalogue. Two eminent guests also feature on the album: Scalde, whose vocals soar against the keyboard lines of the highly personal ‘The Phoney Lullaby’ and young singer Mesparrow – a new talent on the French pop scene – on introspective cut ‘Traveling Fast’. Two very striking performances.
This is music conducive to daydreaming, smiling, feet-tapping and escapism... The album unfolds seamlessly, much to our serenity and delight. “Tides of Mind” is the work of an artist who appears to enjoy a new-found sense of tranquillity and is second to none in managing to convey it.