Sunday, December 16, 2007

Jack Ohly

All the possibility of the low-bowed upright bass are explored by Jack Ohly on his first album, Now Down. It evokes a subterranean world, or a rotting junkyard, or an empty urban alley, but most of all an encompassing loneliness. Everything thrums and clatters in Ohly's music, or smacks as sharply as the rain; his sounds are lush and endless. In addition to the upright bass, he also plays the piano, viola, and cavaquinho, even an Asian zither, and I suppose you're meant to listen with headphones, because the sounds corner you like a motley mob. But his primary instrument is his voice, which evokes Tom Waits, and seems ancient. He has Waits' storytelling knack, too--the songs feel like folk tales, though he's not as wordy as that might suggest. There is quiet menace and strangeness on the opening tracks: "Describe (so loud)," and the epic, shapeshifting melodies of "High Rise." "The Same Light" is an absolutely gorgeous Leonard Cohen-esque love song, so delicate it might break. Similar muted emotion seeps through his cover of the Brazilian folk song "Sereno de Madrugada," in which he's accompanied by Tanya Nagahawatte on vocals. The nocturnal blues of "Milk of the Moon" have a demonic sparkle, as rich as anything on the album. A beautiful release from Royal Rhino Flying Records; Cloud Records also offers limited edition hand-painted copies.

MP3: Jack Ohly - Milk of the Moon

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