OCH, Swedish for ‘and’, recently released their first LP courtesy of Rocket Recordings. This trio, of whom little is known other than a kinship to their label mates Flowers Must Die,have created a collection of beguiling soundscapes and audial epiphanies that can’t help but summon up the freewheeling ‘70s spirit, the small hours head space and the broader sense of adventure that has legendarily dominated the areas of the esoteric.
As a new decade dawns, the music obsessive inhabits a claustrophobic modern era of instant gratification in which they’re seemingly so spoiled by online options and easy access that transcendence can be paradoxically hard to find in the melee. It can be reassuring to be mindful of the way a random discovery in the bargain bins of a second-hand record store or a charity shop can set off sparks of inspiration and untold fascination. A full forty years on, rare though it is to come across a new record in the here and now which conjures up the same sense of ‘other’ as the cryptic artefacts of yore, it seems that one is on the verge of crossing our transom.
The eight-track offering is more like an aural discovery of individual exploratory journeys through which the listener can plot out a psychic course that traverses the likes of the meditative trance-states of vintage Popol Vuh, the chemically-altered mania of Guru Guru. Synth-driven propulsion akin to French iconoclasts Heldon and Lard Free, and naturally the bucolic raptures of the band’s erstwhile national forebears such as Träd Gräs Och Stenar and Älgarnas Trädgård, not to mention more recent exponents of the same lineage such as Hills and Dungen. Yet the entire vision the band conveys on this delirious travelogue is both timeless and paradoxically fresh.
Of special intrigue is ‘Baum Baur’, a rhythmically haunting track whose hook grabs from the first few bars and captivates with its krautrock countenance and ‘Pelennor’s Fält’ whose chaotic organ introduction sets the scene for the sampled water effects, constant repetition and shifting focus allow it to shine. Listen to this one loud to hear all the finer nuances. ‘Nu:64’ seems appropriately named since it seems to take influence from a certain German band with a similar name, capturing their essence but then adding and enhancing.
Just as their name invokes an ampersand, so this record is no less than a gateway to who knows where; proof positive that these dimensions beyond the everyday , courtesy of OCH, are as accessible in 2020 as they ever were.