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Enter Max Colombie’s world, and you’ll discover a uniquely dazzling and shimmering fusion of contemporary R&B and a more European electro-pop sensibility, uniting shivery melody, shifting beats and vocals steeped in drama, sensuality and yearning. Colombie hears, “a twilight zone where it doesn’t sound dark nor happy. It’s like the name Oscar and the Wolf; it’s a balance between light and dark, this perfect combination between the sun and the moon. It’s beautiful and scary at the same time.”
Oscar and the Wolf’s official debut, the 2012 EP Summer Skin, showed his gifts arrived virtually full-formed, but he truly came of age in 2014 with his debut album Entity. Balanced between dancefloor anthems and slow jams, Entity went 4 times platinum in his native Belgium and quickly jettisoned Colombie to superstar status. He sold out arenas in Belgium and the Netherlands, taking the penultimate headlining slot (behind Muse) at 2016's Lowlands festival before headlining Belgium’s Pukkelpop festival sharing the bill with Rihanna and LCD Soundsystem.
Released in 2017, the second Oscar and the Wolf album, Infinity went platinum at home, whilst amassing a huge Middle Eastern fanbase across Turkey (where his 2018 tour sold out inside minutes), Egypt, Israel and Iran. On stage, Colombie cut a commanding and lithe performer, often garbed in shimmering outfits that interacted with the dynamic lighting.
The new Oscar and the Wolf album The Shimmer distils the essence of Colombie’s sound and vision in its title and the image of Colombie on the album cover, bathed in starry light. The album is a benchmark of his transformation on record; whereas Entity was recorded in a barn, “very lo-fi with no access to gear,” he recalls, The Shimmer’s bold, rich and layered dynamics were captured at ICP Studios in Brussels, home to, “one of the best live rooms in Europe, with all this vintage gear.” More intimate moments were added at Colombie’s house outside the city, “those magic takes we made just after we’d written something, which are so hard to capture again.”
By ‘we’, Colombie includes producer Jeroen De Pessemier and multi-instrumentalist Ozan Bozdag, who had both worked on Infinity (and Bozdag on Entity too). “It’s a magical trio,” Colombie says. “Everyone is allowed to be themselves, and to explore themselves. I’m really happy with The Shimmer because I hear a more mature version of myself. I always want things to grow, and I’m proud that I allowed myself to not follow people’s expectations and reproduce what had been successful before. There are no four-to-the-floor clubby pop songs this time.”
Instead, The Shimmer more accurately reflects Colombie’s personality. “My emotions run from super-happy to super-melancholic in a split second,” he says. “To me, The Shimmer feels like the soundtrack to a blockbuster, with many types of tracks and themes. It’s always changing.”
2. Ghost Of You
4. Your Choice
5. Ocean City
7. Nostalgic Bitch
10. The P.I.C.
11. The Shimmer