Memory Of A Cut Off Head
|Release:||Released November 24th 2017|
|Product:||See drop-down for available versions|
|Cat:||CF100X (Castle Face)|
So for those keeping score, this is album number 20 of the Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees, The Oh Sees pet project of John Dwyer. That's right, album number 19 was the one dropped at the last turn in August (Oh Sees - Orc). But 20 albums in 20 years tells you a lot about John Dwyer; he doesn't like you to get comfy.
So here we go again with Memory Of A Cut Off Head, release #100 on Dwyer's own Castle Face label and this time Dwyer returns to an old moniker: OCS. Again with long term collaborator Brigid Dawson, Memory is a far cry from the raw antics of Orc, projecting a genuinely serene and graceful listen.
1. Memory of a Cut Off Head
2. Cannibal Planet
3. The Baron Sleeps and Dreams
4. The Remote Viewer
5. On & On Corridor
6. Neighbor To None
7. The Fool
8. The Chopping Block
9. Time Tuner
10. Lift A Finger
(The words of the press release, not us)
Just as you begin to get comfortable with something, the rug is pulled from under you. A week last Friday, John Dwyer and his band Oh Sees released their newest record, the monolithic psych opus Orc. This release represents the 19th album under some amalgam of the name Oh Sees/Thee Oh Sees/The Oh Sees, OCS, etc. Wasting no time, John Dwyer presents the 20th album (in the 20th year of the band's existence), ‘Memory of a Cut Off Head’ (out 17/11 on Castle Face), returning to his roots as OCS.
It is easy to forget (especially amidst the ringing of ears and aching of muscles after your typical Oh Sees show) that initially, OCS was a rather hushed affair. After the minimalistic brutality of Coachwhips, OCS was a diametric opposite corner of John’s musical world, quiet to the point of whispered in the wind, buffeted by the airy whirr of singing saw, soft and strange. Those early records especially had a rather contraband hush about them, as if the party has gone on all night and continues into the morning but everyone’s raspy from talking too much and gradually agrees to whisper and pantomime as they watch the sun come up over the hills. Since then of course, things got gradually louder, faster, crazier...the band evolved since then into the Oh Sees everyone knows. For the 20th Oh Sees release, 100th Castle Face title, and 20th year doing it, John re-examines the quieter roots of it all in particularly baroque and homesteadly fashion. Memory of a Cut Off Head was co-written with longtime collaborator and vocal counterpoint Brigid Dawson, recorded in total in John’s own Stu Stu Studio, and it’s lush, sumptuous in texture, but satisfyingly retains the gentle grace of the early stuff. There’s beautifully executed strings throughout, courtesy of Heather Lockie’s fine arrangements, horn arrangements courtesy of Mikal Cronin, and they even brought back the old saw - Patrick Mullins, that is - on saw and electronics. A return and a refinement of old forms, a few solemn meditations on life lived at high velocity, perhaps a respite from it…a softer side of JPD and distinguished company.