Review: Oslo Tapes ‘Staring At The Sun Before Goin Blind’

Entering the luminous mind contaminated by evocative creativity, born from a harmonious, eclectic character charged with an almost divine emotionality that is the one of Chieti, Italy, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Marco Campitelli. Frontman of one of the best-kept secrets of the Italian underground psych experimental kraut rock, Oslo Tapes (and the obscure noise-rock of The Marigold ), is like being part of all his secrets and at the same time keeping them hidden until they are released through his music and lyrics.

Oslo Tapes 'Staring At The Sun Before Goin Blind' Artwork
Oslo Tapes ‘Staring At The Sun Before Goin Blind’ Artwork

The name Oslo Tapes, as Campitelli likes to explain, came about after him and his wife landed back home from a brief sojourn in the Norwegian capital Oslo in early 2010. The city left him entirely fascinated and blown away by its avant music, its landscapes and the way of living altogether. The word ‘Tapes’ was added because of a childhood memory as music tape collectors.

To help the project come to life, he asked sought the collaboration, mostly on the production desk, of his friend Amaury Cambuzat, frontman of French experimental post-rock band Ulan Bator and now Faust member. The first album Oslo Tapes (un cuore in pasto a pesci con teste di cane), which loosely translates to ‘a heart fed to fish with dog heads’, was composed and produced within weeks during 2013 and released via Dischi Bervisti, DeAmbula, DreaminGorilla Records.

This musical opus exudes a potent blend of harmonic richness and emotional expressiveness, serving as a vessel for a spiritual solitude that amplifies moments of karma-mantra introspectiveness. Two years later, fortified by the addition of Mauro Spada on bass and Federico Sergente (drums/percussions ) plus special guests which also includes Umberto Palazzo (Allison Run, Santo Niente), Oslo Tapes unveiled their sophomore endeavour, Tango Kalashnikov.

Here, the sonic landscape takes on an ominous, eerie demeanour, reminiscent of the likes of Einstürzende Neubauten and Sunburned Hand Of The Man, yet delivered with an eloquent industriousness that sets the band apart. The album resonates with a musical structure that navigates through a dark and mysterious space, holding the listener captive with haunting and euphoric rhythms.

With a mind always in continuous search of new sound lifeblood, just like an evergreen tree whose leaves never die, it took six years for Campitelli to reemerge with his third creation ØR (Norwegian for ‘dizzy, confusing’) that was released via Pelagic Records. While the album intermittently reflects feelings of abandonment, it is the brainchild of an artist who has discovered new depths of sonority expressivity, expanding his oeuvre into a sonic and unique quest for his love of psych, kraut and space rock. Each track seamlessly melds into the next, creating a tapestry of hypnotic and euphoric rhythms that beckon the listener into uncharted musical territories.

Cathartic, soulful, melodic, and deeply moving both musically and lyrically…

In the latest manifestation of Oslo Tapes with the album Staring At The Sun Before Goin’ Blind, Campitelli‘s musical trajectory takes a transformative leap. Collaborating with Maury Cambuzat, who co-wrote the songs and arrangements, and an array of extra musicians, including Berlin’s Sicker Man and Mono‘s Dahm Majuri Cipolla, the album immerses the listener in a sea of ethereal, starry beauty. The celestial expanse is illuminated by the northern lights, shaping an auditory experience that spans from serene and tranquil passages to frenetic and dynamic soundscapes.

Staring At The Sun… becomes a testament to Oslo Tapes‘ evolution, adhering to the core sound documented in previous works while conveying immersive sensations through emotional lyrics and a whispered, warm vocal delivery. The album unfolds as a journey into ethereal beauty, skilfully crafted to wash over the listener in waves, gently penetrating the recesses of the mind. The opening track, Gravity, with its shoegaze aesthetics reminiscent of Cocteau Twins, sets the tone with incandescent intensity and multifaceted layers, revealing Campitelli‘s voice with perfect pained abandon.

Ethereal Song follows suit, acting as a fitting heartbeat that explodes into a dark and intense ethereal atmosphere, intertwined with melancholic vocals that immerse the listener in a skein of experimental sonority capable of unravelling the depths of one’s inner soul. The ensuing track, DejaNeu, creeps in with hypnotic, throbbing sounds, evoking a sense of being lost yet overwhelmed by serene beauty. The musical journey continues, weaving through tribal electro-rock rhythms (Reject Yr Regret) and expanding into hard minimalist moments, crowned by a space rock atmosphere that transcends temporal boundaries.

As the listener progresses through the album, a tidal wave of mantra acid music, storms of calm, and at times uncontrollable sounds flood the senses. The whispered voice carries the weight of the world’s sadness, creating a profound and immersive sonic experience. The title track brings this intense journey to its conclusion, standing as the pinnacle of musical sonority. Cathartic, soulful, melodic, and deeply moving both musically and lyrically, it orchestrates a succession of sounds colliding, forming an intense spiritual and magnetic peace.

In the realm of Staring At The Sun… Oslo Tapes transcends the boundaries of conventional music. It becomes more than an album; it metamorphoses into a personal journey, an odyssey of self-discovery. The album invites listeners to savour the profound beauty embedded in its healthy intricacies, capable of eliciting tears of joy from the depths of the heart. It is not merely a record; it is an immersive experience, a transformative trip through the intricate landscapes of Oslo Tapes‘ musical universe. Embark on this odyssey and revel in the symphony of emotions that unfolds with every beat.

Label: Echodelick Records | Grazil Records | Sound Effect Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Caccamo