Video of the Week – Ozul (Norway) – Lønahorgi (title track from EP)
Time for some prog I think, just to show that all genres and tastes are catered for in this tome and that it isn’t one that expired in the early 1980s under the punk onslaught.
The solo project Ozul is the work of Paulo Chavarría, yet another Scandinavian musician with an Italian name (we’ve had a few, lately). He’s out of Bergen, but I suspect there’s a link to Bergamo somewhere along the line.
He describes his work as “an eclectic, prog rock-driven sound.” What’s more he is a filmmaker as well as a musician, hence “Ozul´s aims are to be an outlet to both musical and visual ideas that blend a wide spectre of influences and different music genres; ranging from progressive rock, electronic soundscapes, classical music, psychedelic prog, jazz and metal.”
That’s plenty to take in all at once. Can he really merge all these styles? I mean, jazz, metal and psych-prog? Can he do it on one song?
‘Lønahorgi’ is the title of his latest EP and this is the title track from it. ‘Lønahorgi’ is the name of a Norwegian mountain and a rather impressive one by all accounts, being the second highest mountain in the big mountain region north of the highway E16, which runs between Bergen and Voss – and all the way to Oslo and beyond, to Sweden and the Baltic Sea coast I might add. (You’re always likely to get a geography lesson here!)
He says ‘Lønahorgi’ is inspired by this majestic Norwegian nature and landscape. Its lyrics deal with how walking up a mountain, climbing and getting in touch with nature can be a relief from the tragedies that life puts in front of us. I think I’ll just snuggle under the sheets, thanks.
But there’s a personal touch to it, as it relates how during certain difficult times the composer himself has gone deep into the mountains “to try to survive emotional and psychological pain.”
So, to return to my question: can he do all this at once? Yes he can, and much more. I selected this as a ‘Video of the Week’ because you get so much more out of it if you watch the video, which cleverly cuts real life film with what, as a layman, I would call, probably naively, ‘cartoon image overlay.’ (In the land of A-ha, what do you expect)?
This isn’t a song; it’s six and a half minutes of art.
What Ozul does particularly well is to create a psychosis out of those visual images, one that is cranked up further by the relentlessness of the music.
He does that right from the very start, with the sun rapidly setting over a desert. You know it’s suddenly going to get very cold.
Then we’re up on the higher levels of the mountain where the pine trees are covered in frost. After staring at a ‘bonfire of the insanities’, the moon rises over what could be a memorial to someone who’s perished up there.
The Milky Way, aurora borealis and a calming lake provide some comfort but almost immediately afterwards follows a bleak landscape of dead trees, the sort of image you associate with news reports of an aircraft that has ‘crashed into high terrain’ on the approach to an airport, followed by a storm.
You think it’s over? No sir. Then there’s a montage of pained faces, a sort of ‘Scream’ set to music (I had to get Munch in somewhere!) followed by a burning teddy bear on that bonfire.
Thereafter, the music and video both slow down a little (the calm after the storm?) into something more ambiently inspired, with psychedelic imagery, including a ‘Blair Witch’ like facial image in a tree.
In the final section the mood is lighter as the higher reaches of the mountain are attained, in bright sunlight. But even then there are negative images; a huge tree being felled, probably an environmental allusion, a rock fall and what could be an avalanche.
The summit is reached to the accompaniment of a frenetic hard metal thrash.
Lyrically, it concludes with “all the years and all the madness, slowly bled as tears of sweat”, the sweat presumably being what is expended on the climb, and which washes away the madness of the civilisation below.
Now of course my interpretation could be well off the mark, but it is a case of ‘make your own mind up’ here. Strangely it put me in mind of an opus from the 1970s, namely Genesis’ ‘The Lamb lies down on Broadway’, which chronicles the journey through the bowels of New York by the character Rael (an anagram of ‘real’) transposed into the wilds of a Norwegian mountain range.
I don’t think I can bestow a more complimentary accolade.
(Full EP – Spotify)
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