German acoustic singer/songwriter Conny Ochs is not the typical style of music you’d find on The Sleeping Shaman but then Conny isn’t your typical musician. Providing a much darker take on acoustic, Conny has attracted the attention of a wealth of notable lost souls, in particular doom lord Wino.
The duo toured together in support of their collaborative LP ‘Heavy Kingdom’ and if you’ve not heard Conny’s music before, this is likely where you got your first taste. His minimalist, eerie guitar and powerful vocals won doom heads over throughout the tour and now with new solo album ‘Black Happy’ about to be released, it’s time for the man to prove what he can do solo.
Heavy it ain’t, but ‘Black Happy’ contains that dark, gloomy approach that metal fans will be all too familiar with. This approach starts from opener ‘Exile’ which is a bold way to introduce an album, with a bleak guitar section opening up for Conny’s soulful voice.
This voice is the best possible complement to his emotive guitar work, with a set of pipes that have a haunting quality similar to the greats of early blues music. Album highlight ‘Die in your Arms’ is the best example of this, containing a sorrowful vibe that seems incredibly genuine.
Reaching a quite short length of 28 minutes, ‘Black Happy’ avoids dragging on like so many modern albums. The brief length of the LP also means there is no real filler and each song appears to have a sense of purpose and individuality.
Conny clearly has a large range of influences and creating his own unique atmosphere seems to be his top priority. The vocal only ‘Faces in the Crowd’ is a good example of this, with a strong feeling of solitude being created from the honest lyrics and lack of his trademark guitar.
This is a recurring theme on the album with closer ‘Mouth’ also containing this feeling through a stellar harmonica performance. Solo artists are often seen as an acquired taste, but this sense of difference and bleakness is something that can resonate with the general rock crowd and so give Conny a far wider appeal from your typical acoustic musicians.
‘Black Happy’ holds a large connection with doom in terms of its overall result, showing off the power of minimalism and bleak imagery. Much like sub-genre kings (and musical mates) Saint Vitus; depressive lyrics, towering guitar work and strong vocals are at Conny’s musical core which make for an addictive journey in to something a little different for those who like it loud.
Conny Ochs has created something to be treasured with his latest and greatest opus ‘Black Happy.’ Going in to the very roots of music with his acoustic guitar as his primary weapon, Conny will prove someone who divides opinion but will always leave an impression as he creeps in to the wider musical platform.
Scribed by: Alex Varley