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Ozul (Norway) – Kafka World (single/future album track)

Those with decent memories might remember Ozul from over a year ago and his EP track ‘Lønahorgi’ which we featured as a Video of the Week as he is also a filmmaker and which I described collectively as “a piece of art”.

The artist name of Paulo Chavarría, Ozul is his prog rock-driven project. The idea for the album from which this is a track and a single was triggered by a report in the Norwegian press about how the body of an unknown man was found dead lying on a fjord.

That intrigued me straight away because we had a similar situation about 10 years ago, a middle aged man who seemingly committed suicide close to a well known feature atop a Pennine hill near me (we don’t have fjords here). He was from the south of England and had no connection to the area. It took them a year to discover his identity and then only by chance.

In the Norwegian case they still don’t know who he was. Anyway it kick started an interest in Ozul in child/parent separation and all the issues that get tied up in it; the judicial and political ones included. He reckoned that his musical background which embraces progressive rock, electronic soundscapes, classical music, psychedelic prog and hard rock would help him express these multifarious issues artistically.

The album that arose out of it, ‘Man on the Shore’, will be released on June 21st on Bandcamp and on August 9th on Spotify.

It is a concept album (I’m glad they still exist) that tells a story about the grief, struggle and tragedy of a character, (Mr A N Other, I suppose according to the background storyline) as he fights an uphill, grief stricken battle to keep contact with his child after a divorce. Perhaps he went so far uphill that he just gave up the fight, like the guy on the fjord.

Now again, you see that catches my attention for several reasons. Firstly it isn’t unusual for this subject matter to appear across different art forms but it is invariably from a mother’s point of view rather than the father’s.

Secondly it immediately put me in mind of Peter Gabriel’s song ‘Come talk me to me’, which chronicled his attempts to win back his daughter after a divorce and which was a special feature in the ‘Greatest Live Performances’ category in NMC not so long ago.

I mention that also because there is a lot of ‘prog’ in what Ozul does and I previously connected ‘Lønahorgi’ (song and video) to Genesis’ ‘The Lamb lies down on Broadway’, which was a Gabriel opus of course and the last thing he did before parting ways with the band.

As for ‘Kafka world’, the first single from ‘Man on the shore’, he says it is “a scene in this story as the character finds himself entrapped, going back and forth through an endless maze of offices, bureaucracy and law”, in a similar fashion to Josef K in Kafka’s ‘The Trial’. Yet he seems to receive no help on how to be able to see his son and merely bounces interminably from office to office as abnormality gives way to absurdity in a manner many divorced fathers would understand.

Apart from a spoken recorded telephone message at the beginning, which puts him in a queue at ‘Number 9’ (perhaps ‘Number 6’ might have been more appropriate like ‘The Prisoner’) the track is essentially instrumental. But there are lyrics, so what do I mean by that?

Those lyrics are subsumed in the powerful electronic waves of music. I can’t tell what is being sung or even in what language but it doesn’t matter. The skill is in the foreboding atmosphere Ozul creates, one in which it is easy even to convince yourself that matters are spinning out of control, the world has gone mad, no-one knows how to put it right and even if they did they wouldn’t be allowed to.

A bit like 2024 I suppose.

Listen and see if you can come away from it without feeling disturbed.

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