Album Review: Ottus – Ghost Travellers

The Breakdown

Adventurous yet gentle indie pop folk with hidden depths.

Homerecords is a Belgian label with an emphasis towards acoustic music, and they describe this recent release as “adventurous yet gentle indie pop folk, halfway between electric and acoustic”. Ottus hail from the city of Liège, which certainly accounts for the adventurous side, it being an underground melting pot of a place, constantly spewing forth odd and edgy music, so it’s refreshing to discover this less chaotic but equally accomplished offering.

Singer and comic-book artist Loic Holzemer’s voice has a touch of Nick Drake and is nicely complimented by the liquid tones of Fanny Vandenbergh, with some delicious harmonies throughout. Musically the album travels through various styles and moods (hence its title). On a solid base of drums, bass and guitar there are touches of Kings of Convenience/Whitest Boy Alive, but thanks to the imaginative arrangements, also in places (‘The Old Skills’) echoes of ‘The Wicker Man’. The bugle on ‘Jailbreak’ calls to mind the orchestration of early Kevin Ayers, and elsewhere the accordion flits between echo-laden sinister and cordial sea-shanty.

The ever-changing instrumentation keeps things fresh and sonically surprising, such as the woozily seductive bass clarinet on ‘Little Stalker’ and the Roy Harper-esque guitar on ‘Living Stone’.

All in all it’s a fine album for this time of year as the seasons transform before our eyes and the old pagan ghosts emerge, and the whole thing is lovingly packaged with sleeve and booklet illustrations by Loic himself.

Ghost Travellers is out now on Homerecords via Bandcamp.

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