Conny Ochs has a fairly extensive musical history that goes back to the mid ‘90s and the band Zombie Joe. Since going solo in 2010, Conny has released several albums under his own name, been a member of the experimental outfit Trialogos and undertaken a number of collaborations with doom legend Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich.
His latest record Wahn Und Sinn (Madness and Sense) is the follow-up to 2019’s Doom Folk and is being released in conjunction with a book of the same name that contains various poems Ochs had amassed between 2000-2010. This latest venture can be viewed as a logical continuation of the experimental spirit demonstrated by the aforementioned Trialogos project, both of which feature cellist Sicker Man.
It is significant for being the first of Ochs solo recordings not to feature him on the cover, instead it uses the stunning artwork by Scottish artist Abi Salvesen. Furthermore, it’s the first time he’s sung in his native German, though an English translation of the lyrics are thankfully provided. It’s an album of firsts and hopefully one that can live up to its promise.
Turin, with its rich strings, strong emotive vocals and ambient country vibes (the latter of which is reminiscent of bands such as SUSS) make for a particularly strong start to the album. Risse (Cracks) is a little rockier with some beefy riffing and superb atmospherics that remind me of Pink Floyd during their most epic (Dark Side of the Moon/Wish You Were Here). It feels a little proggy, though Ochs‘ rich organic vocals superbly counterbalance and ground the whole affair.
Ding (Thing) is a bluesy lament and considering how the lyrics draw upon Ochs‘ life when he was in his twenties, there is an understandable angsty quality, albeit handled in a much classier fashion than most. For some reason, I was reminded of Haruomi Hosono as there was a slight oriental lilt present and as someone who’s thinking of kickstarting piano lessons, this lovely number may just provide the impetus and motivation required.
This is a stunning piece of work and for once I’m genuinely lost for words…
Hickhack (Fracas) has a more eccentric tone ala Tom Waits, and I could envisage the gravel throated legend belting out such a tune in his younger years while Taub Und Laut (Deaf and Loud) tips its hat to bands such as Talk Talk what with its post-rock sensibility. It is beautifully understated (much like Talk Talk in fact) and makes for a wonderfully restive and reflective listening experience.
Welle (Wave) is the album’s shortest track at one and a half minutes and an instrumental to boot. It’s a curious yet pleasant collection of crackling electronica, feedback, strings and overall strange sounds that offer the listener a nice breather and Grimassen (Grimaces) with its pounding drums initially remind me of Ochs‘ fellow countrymen The Picturebooks. The overall feel is somewhat grim, especially in the lyrical department and brings to mind awful current day events in Israel. A profoundly moving piece.
Melancholia has a gothic/darkwave aesthetic not overly dissimilar to Depeche Mode with the vocals evoking that of frontman Dave Gahan. As a fan of that band and both genres, I was more than exceedingly happy with the resultant sound. Lumos at nearly six minutes is the album’s longest number recalling Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir; not directly but more in terms of bombast and the Middle Eastern style stringed section. This is all topped off with a delightful duet with Anna Ochs making for what is a spectacular conclusion to the album.
This is a stunning piece of work and for once I’m genuinely lost for words during this segment of the review, all I can say is just go check out the damn thing already.
Scribed by: Reza Mills