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Video of the week – Pepe Deluxé (Finland) – Saddle that Wind (single/future album track)

Technically Pepe Deluxé shouldn’t be here at all, because of the two main men only one resides in the Nordics (James Spectrum/Helsinki), while the Swede Paul Malmström is now based in New York.

But I couldn’t resist this video of theirs, which is for the single ‘Saddle that Wind’, the last one before the new album, ‘Comix Somix’, which will be released on 20th June.

I couldn’t make my mind up when I briefly reviewed a single, ‘Freedom Flag’, about a month ago, whether they are a genuine bona fide band or just very talented jokers. After watching this video I have to acknowledge their bona fides, whilst admitting they do spoof songs and videos better than just about anyone.

Arising initially out of the 1990s club scene, they can mix up genres into a melting pot simply within one song or lay out different ones, in succession, and embracing psych, prog, classical, soul, funk, and hip hop, seamlessly. They can be futuristic or retro, landing anywhere from the 1960s to the present day. You never know quite what to expect next.

The press release uses the word ‘maximalist’ and that is spot on. There is so much going on you don’t know what to focus your attention on.

And they do like to bring in outside contributors. On ‘Freedom Flag’, Nightwish drummer Kai Hahto guested – on double bass! On ‘Saddle that Wind’ it’s the turn of the lead singer of the prog rock band Von Hertzen Brothers, supplying harmonies while evidently wearing underpants that are a couple of sizes too small.

He is joined by the main vocalist, ex-Gulf War veteran turned peacenik singer-songwriter Boi Crompton, while the drums this time come under the spell of the jazz giant Mäkynen Teppo and the guitar solo is provided by one ‘Mr Fastfinger’ (I’m not making this up), who has featured in Guitar Techniques magazine.

He uses a unique and unconventional ‘Electric Salami Slicer’ effect that was developed and perfected by the Deluxé duo, and influenced by Pepe Deluxé’s early hip-hop roots.

And there are even more on the album including Finnish bassist Tuukka Haapaniemi, Owen Egerton, who bills himself as a novelist, filmmaker, stage comedian, and human sampler, and original founding member DJ Slow.

Meanwhile the wild and wacky instruments they use include the American Airlines’ 747’s flying Wurlitzer, a 40,000 BC mammoth bone flute(the world’s oldest instrument), and the piano of the airship Hindenburg. (How did that survive)?

If you’re thinking all this sounds ever more like the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, I’m with you.

‘Saddle that Wind’ is identified as the album’s most 60s-infused track but I can’t remember who was playing this sort of stuff then. Perhaps The Shadows or The Tornados, for the guitar sound, but after that I’m struggling. It might as well be the music of the 2060s, what Robby the Robot listened to in ‘Lost in Space’ or the other Robert robot in Fireball XL5.

The video kicks off with an outlandish quote from the even more outlandishly named Octawius Katzeklosandergänser in a scene that might be taken straight out of Dr Who; Pepe Deluxé identifying themselves as a solitary flame floating through the universe in the form of a night lamp.

Thereafter the story is told through the unfolding pages of a book, which include numerous wise words, phrases and observations but which collectively add up to little. Meaningless twaddle wrapped up in fancy language is how it came across to me but I am reliably informed that it is an adaptation of poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson!

The song and video combine the Wild West and whimsical sci-fi in a send up which, if it has a meaning at all seems to me to be don’t trust what you read in books, no matter how profound they might appear to be. (Or political manifestos for that matter, since we’re halfway into an election campaign here).

Perhaps that’s why the book turns inside out at the end. And even the title conjures up contradictory images as sharp as the classic 1994 spoof western ‘Wagons East’.

There’s no doubt about it. These guys are clever. Perhaps too clever by which I mean most people simply won’t get it and hence dismiss it and I can’t vouch for the accuracy of my interpretation by any means.

But they are entertaining. There is no doubt about that.

And there’s plenty more on the album. With song titles like ‘Earth Boys are easy’ (a skit on the 1988 film) and ‘Back from the Futures with Goldfinger and K’ (Bond movie characters) how could it be anything else?

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