Ball Of Flame Shoot Fire: Zileur (Mi:Mi:Moumou)

Zileur (Mi:Mi:Moumou) has a certain offbeat charm, the kind shared by an ugly sofa, the smell of decades-old newspapers, or a garish and scratchy sweater. That is to say, I certainly can’t figure out where it belongs. It has an uncanny grooviness, at times smooth jazz and at other times straying closer to country. It could very well be a broadcast sent from the 1970s with the express purpose of establishing alien contact.

There are three recognizable singers. All are men and all incorporate their own variation on a wheezy, wavering falsetto. This odd delivery, combined at times with a flood of bizarre stream-of-consciousness style lyrics, can be abrasive. However, it’s all very inconsistent. On some tracks, the unpolished vocals lend themselves to the musical style and combine in unexpected ways. The best example of this is “TV Court,” which can’t seem to decide whether it’s a jazz rock number or exit music for a western. Its rambling piano and guitar lines and the nasal vocal delivery somehow manage to hook you, in spite of their inherent strangeness. The following track, “Men Of Substance,” also boasts a grotesquely interesting vocal performance and a swinging rhythm, this time embellished with soft guitar arpeggios. But at other times, as in “The Curse” and “Ed,” it’s just rock-by-numbers with a lousy vocalist.

Unfortunately, the most fascinating thing about the album is also its downfall. Because this aesthetic is something of an anomaly today, it can sound pretty self-involved. In the opening tracks I can detect a slight air of superiority in forced idiosyncrasies, and the purposeful eccentricity quickly loses its intrigue and becomes alienating.

In A Word: Obtrusive