Featuring a blend of Belfast and Bristol musical genes – primarily from four multi-instrumentalist’s – the first full statement from Otherish splices Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and folk elements to nourish their fermenting threads of philosophy, humanity, and fallibility. The band carry deliver these themes with deserving musical diversity and grandiosity; along with their rippling drums and coruscating guitar, English choristers appear on most songs, adjacent to the equally striking harmonising vocals from O’Cathain, O’Brollochain, Claridge and O’Neill.
The core of Otherish comprises brothers Mark and Paul Bradley, and neighbour Francis Kane, all born in the same Belfast house. Winchester-born George Claridge completes the enigma; Belfast and Winchester bred but made in Bristol. Their debut appearance was with ‘Superheroes’, the now-classic Banksy-supported lockdown single by The New Space Finders, which they produced.
The self-titled debut album from Otherish – complimented by surrounding musical seers – introduces their intoxicatingly charming mystique: one which, in a two steps forwards-one step back fashion, only grows the band’s intrigue as more is heard of them.
A macabre piano-driven dirge of choral vocals, in the lamenting elegy of Uladh’s Dying, is the invitation into Otherish’s world; wherein a folkish narrative treads the Otherish path further.
Vocals float ethereally above a saccharine, flurrying medley of guitar and brisk drums on Your Tunnel – representing the unique chasm in which Otherish reside musically.
The proggy guitar prongs of Ghosts shape a bewitching tale of “mystic lands” where “ghosts don’t come near”. The track is also interpolated with deep, baritone vocals and harmonica passages wheezing incredible melancholy: making it the album’s emotive mantle.
Dawn What Planet?’s features an undulating vocal delivery and brisk folky guitar. Both Bollards, Oh Well and Catch a Grip – where this practically Jansch-esque guitar also abounds – expand Otherish’s mythic sensibility through their innate ability to simultaneously evade being categorised musically or pinned down in their meaning, while also being immediately universal in the mood conveyed. Bollards, Oh Well summons this revelatory character through sumptuously proggy guitar, though not exorbitantly indulgent, making it’s seemingly superficial title urgent and enticing. The concluding “…what does it mean…?”, with it’s carefree air, offers that the lack of any profound meaning in music may not matter; searching too hard for it may be wholly unnecessary in the face of simply absorbing the emotion of it.
Catch a Grip – in the surrealness of it’s titular phrase – draws the ears to the fantastical, sharp lyrics in spite of being completely unaware of the meaning, strengthened by the melody and cadence of their delivery. Such a mystique, one which steeps the band in a rich and woozy enigma while also being a universally wrapped emotive fever, translates across the rest of the album; as well as the band’s whole image. The track
The mysticism Otherish channel is one glittering part of a charming debut full of exuberant warmth; the soothing surge Irish Blessings exudes (balancing many musical and cultural influences in under two minutes) exemplifies this musical feeling of kinship and joy marvellously.