Album Appreciation: II by OCH

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So begins this album… with something that feels very familiar to me… the sound of a Berlin U-Bahn train leaving the station… it’s a sound that signifies the beginning of a sonic journey… but one that never really seems to come to an end.

The commencement of opening track ‘Jag är här, Jag är här’ ‘(I am here, I am here’) is also appropriate because this very much feels like an album of moments… like a flowing stream… never a raging torrent… but very liquid in its approach… never alighting on any particular mood… never going too far… but always moving.


‘Jag är här, Jag är här’ has taken its German beginnings and runs with what is a great motorik track which fairly powers along. However, repeated listens help you to realise that there is more going on here than just a journey… particularly when we get to the noise of the crowd at the end… and this got me thinking how this album feels to me like one of those rapid transit trips through a city where each stop brings new sights and sounds onto the train as people get on and off…

This is borne out by the second track on the album ‘Baum Bar’ which uses tabla and sitar sounds to give the music a very different feel from its predecessor… yet the use of the guitar at the end somehow brings us back to the here and now… another trip on what is becoming a series of them.

After that ‘Åkkså’ is a much more spacey sound… that sort of isolating sound where you feel surrounded by nothingness… there is a real feeling of isolation for me on this track, and I imagined myself deep in the ground surrounded by people, yet feeling quite alone… that said there is also a sort of stark warmth to it too… different emotions and perceptions colliding… the increasing rise of the repeating coda which seems headed only for the totality of white noise

This is arrested as it segues into ‘Denn sån bor i Tarin’ and seems to seek to bring the listener’s mind down into something more still… yet there is also a feeling of unease here too… thoughts are being distilled down and yet this new awareness seems to bring up something deeper and more fundamental… wherever we are now it is dark… our journey seems to be in another dimension by the end of this track… the territory feels unfamiliar as the music takes an eerie turn as we go into ‘Färgen ur rymden’ (‘The colour of space’)…

The title is something that really appeals to me because I really like this idea of synesthesia, seeing colour through sound, and applying this to space too seems to take this to another level. Somehow this track gradually acts as a calming influence as we are taken into another stop… another underground cavern where we can change dimensions… our subterranean voyage now becoming something far more existential… I’ve stopped and listened to this track three times on this play through… each time it had felt deeper and more soothing effect on me.

As with all the tracks here it then goes naturally into the next one ‘Pelennor’s fält’. However, the number soon picks up and becomes rather jaunty… certainly by the standards of what have gone before… the tribal ‘kraut’ drumming drives this on as the organ sounds soar around it. As the it progresses though ‘Pelennor’s fält’ feels more dank… the aftermath, perhaps, of the battle in Lord of the Rings on ‘Pelennor field’… this being massive and deadly moment in the epic story… our journey moving through all sorts of experiences…

‘Nu64’ was the original working title for the Nintendo 64 gaming console… which in turn brings us somewhere different and questions the reality of what we are experiencing… the dimensions we are encountering with this album? Are they real or hyperreal? What is this quest? Musically this track is different again with the sort of electronic statement as you would expect from such as title.

Which brings us to the final track ‘Pandemi på Händelö’ (‘pandemic on Händelö’) which has a more chaotic feel to it… an urgency to it that was perhaps absent elsewhere… there is also a hitherto absent relentless as if things are getting out of control… heading for the buffers… fragmenting into oblivion… a fitting and open end to our journey…

Whether or not my interpretations are wide of the mark this is an album of fluid contrasts from an anonymous Swedish trio who seem to be both seeking meaning in the great contrasts that we encounter in our daily lives… yet also highlighting how the impermanence of these meanings leads to chaos and disjunction we are… as the byline of this website suggests, ‘strolling through splintered culture’… sometimes pausing, but never ultimately escaping the relentlessness of experience and the consistent change which we encounter… whether we ever got to the next stop (its Mohrenstraße on the opening sequence) on that Berlin U-bahn is perhaps moot because this album ended up taking us somewhere else completely… listen to this set and you too can take an existential trip through the dimensions.

‘II’ will be released by Rocket Recordings on 28th February 2020.



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