Thursday, June 20, 2013

Conny Ochs - Black Happy

What a nice surprise this is! When Black Happy dropped down in my mailbox all I had heard of Conny Ochs was the collaboration he made with doom legend Scott"Wino"Weinrich. Somewhere in the back of my mind I kind of figured it would be singer/songwriter stuff...but not this good. As much as I am into heavy music only an acoustic guitar and a singer can be just as good and when Conny goes out on the edge with this album I am drawn in and mesmerized.

Walking through the darker side of life Black Happy couldn't have been a more appropriate title as it's a journey through death, heartbreak, loneliness, illness and rejection. But how can this be mesmermizing you might ask. For me it's a catharsis, making my own negative thoughts disappear and that works in a two-fold way. One is the simplicity of the music which is actually kind of soothing despite the bleak subject matter on display. The sweet tones Conny conjurs brings my pulse down two or three notches so when the lyrics kicks in the music evens out what Conny is singing about. And that's the second reason why Black Happy is a catharsis for me. What he writes about speaks to me because I've been in bad places just like he sings about but no more. However, it rears it's ugly head sometimes and that's when I need an album like this.

There are two tracks that stands out, not necessarily because they are better than the other but stand out they do. Faces In The Crowd is not only the shortest track but it is also vocal-only akin to a medieval ode. Definitely different but great nonetheless. The other track is Blues For My Baby which to me comes across like a James Reyne song. Reyne was the front man for Aussie rockers Australian Crawl before launching a hugely succesful solo career.

In a world where you have all these devices and tools to create unheard-of rhythms and sounds, Conny goes the opposite way. Stripping away any kind of excess his music is minimalistic, yet powerful, beautiful and full of emotions. Apart from the acoustic guitar, the only other instruments utilized are the occasional tambourine, harmonica, bass guitar(I think) and guitar. Yet he has created something out of the ordinary with Black Happy. Of course this is my opinion but listen to this as a relaxing experience, you know to chill out and cleanse your mind a little bit because it is the perfect help for that. You dear waverider will probably find other avenues with it and that's the beauty with any great album.

This is an album for everyone regardless your musical leanings. That's the beauty of an acoustic release that doesn't streamline and opt for a certain group of listeners only. Don't know if that is what Conny aimed for but it's certainly what the outcome of Black Happy is. I'm sure there are many of you out there who gets a look of apprehension on their faces when they hear acoustic music thinking "oh no, another cover album of yesterday's hits" or "ah, another country album where I lost my job, my wife left me and the dog ran away". There's no need to fret because if ANY album was as well-written and well-performed as this one, the world of music would be even better. Do yourself and Conny a huge favour and get this fantastic release.


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