"Bon Voyage" (1999) by United Future Organization

“The journey not in time but in mind.” Perhaps this quote, taken from the record’s front cover, is the best way to properly capture what happens in Bon Voyage, United Future Organization’s fourth LP. With one foot set firmly in jazz and the other in trip-hop, this weird Japanese/French trio recorded something that had never, and still hasn’t, been equaled, even eleven years after its release.

Of the nine tracks on the record, four are instrumentals, two are sung in English, one is sung in French, one in Spanish, and one in Japanese. Elegantly, UFO cross genre boundaries that weren’t even known about before they were crossed. They mesh together jazz, hip-hop, the Bristol sound, samba, bossa nova, funk, avant-garde, and more, seamlessly blending them together and changing from one genre to another completely different genre. Take, for example, the pure jazz scat solo within a funk/lounge/hip-hop/industrial song.

UFO (in case you haven’t worked out their acronym already) are something else entirely. If you plan on listening to Bon Voyage, you really can’t have any expectations before you start, because no matter what you expect, it’s not what you’re going to get. Even if you plan yourself based on what I said in the last paragraph, when you listen for yourself, you might take something entirely different from the record. I must admit, while I can definitely appreciate the originality and brilliance of the three minds that make up UFO, Bon Voyage didn’t seem, to me, like a brilliant record. Yeah, it was good, and I definitely enjoyed it, but I can’t imagine myself going back to it constantly. It really is a quest, or, as the cover truthfully claims, a “journey”.

But, in reflection, that is exactly the kind of record that Bon Voyage is. Consider it a disturbing, horrible, brilliant movie – one that you watched, and thoroughly enjoyed, but can’t see yourself watching again any time soon.

Choice tracks: this isn’t easy to do for such a record, but I’d say Flying Saucer; Pilgrims; Labryrinth; Happy Birthday 


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