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Le Grand Magistery
Toog is a slender person with ironic eyelids and wrists like tulip stems; needless to say, he’s French. Like his mentor, Momus, the man otherwise known as Gilles Weinzaepflen is an exquisitely refined nonrock ironist, all arched brows and cabaret damage, who makes extreme lounge music for the cyber generation. For all his vocal languor and untaxing pace, though, Toog’s music is as engaging as can be. His facility with all this spacey electro-doodling makes for a delightful tapestry of sound on Easy Toog for Beginners, his second LP, but the chanson in his bones cannot be denied. It turns a military march into a loping window-shopping spree on the toy-soldier plink of “Le Bleu de Tes Yeux.” The keyboard seems to accompany him with an idle newsboy’s whistle on “Sure le Terrain de Foot.” And “Mappemonde” folds in snippets of Hitler’s speeches between the kind of speedy cabaret oompah that only the angriest—or most blithely self-aware—young Continental can get away with. But Toog, clearly, isn’t angry. He never raises his gentle, earnest voice or alters his pace, whether singing against a simple piano riff on the album-opener, “L’echec de Perec,” or employing his unforced but heavily accented English for the folkish amble of the fantasy “The General Says” (“I could-eent wipe away zee pigeons shitting on my face,” he laments, very movingly). Even the harsh “Maitresse,” a resentful ode to a dominatrix—or maybe just a woman—is lifted by a sprightly Bachlike melody. This stuff really is easy for beginners: The synthetic layers of otherwordly beeps, waves, and clicks are built up with a lightness of hand that gives these playful compositions a decidedly human resonance and charm. —Arion Berger