OSI AND THE JUPITER – Appalachia

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label: https://www.eisenton.de/label/
Released: 2020
Buy Album: https://osifolk.bandcamp.com/album/appalachia
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/osifolk/

Band Line-up:

Sean Kratz: Instruments, vocals, and arrangements
Kakophonix: Cello

Tracklisting:

1. They Ride Through the Skies on Horse Drawn Chariots
2. Appalachia
3. The Binding Will of Mountains

Review:

Osi and the Jupiter are a folk duo consisting of Sean Kratz on vocals, guitars and synths and Kakaphonix on cello. With their upcoming release ‘Appalachia’ that will be released on 31st July 2020, they will be taking us further into the one of a kind landscapes that have been explored since their forming in 2015. In this occasion they have been inspired by the surroundings of their homelands in Eastern Ohio and in particular, the Appalachian region. 

Whilst the music is very smooth, soothing and pleasant most of the time in the first track ‘They Ride Through the Skies on Horse Drawn Chariots’, the cello melodies have a tendency to wander at times. Whilst the small scale ‘shredding’ on the instrument is pretty impressive, it doesn’t really fit the tone of the music. It’s nowhere near as flashy as the stuff of rock guitarists such as Gary Moore, (sorry, I don’t know any cellists to compare the musician to) but still it arguably doesn’t add much. Maybe if it only featured in a climactic ending it could have been more effective. The ethereal synths throughout the number on the other hand feature beautiful chords from start to finish.

The second track, ‘Appalachia’, features a picked acoustic guitar, vocals and a cello. The tone alone of the instruments are very pleasing and once again, the harmonies are relaxing and well done. They’re not exactly complicated or new, but if you’re looking for something ‘safe’ to put on in the background or to destress yourself to, they could be right up your street. This time round the strings sound more structured and less like they’ve been improvised. (Whether there were or not, I don’t know). 

Final track ‘The Binding Will of Mountains’ is a lot more sombre in tone and it lasts a good twelve minutes. You could describe its introduction as a darker version of the first piece and the second part as an extension of the second piece, also with a darker edge. The third part introduces strummed chords. Whilst it’s not exactly a massive change of style, it is effective in building the tension in a way that isn’t over the top and mood-spoiling. Because of the well thought out structure, you could call the album a kind of short story. 

In conclusion, this stuff is mostly well-written but there are some flaws. Some of the cello parts are a bit scalic and predictable and get tiring after a while. It would be nice if they experimented with more striking notes every now and then, but the performance is very strong. In particular, the vibrato is gorgeous. Again the harmony will be of no surprise to most, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not well written. It would be very hard to write music as chilled out as this, if using strange or overcomplicated harmonies. Check this album out if you’re feeling tense or want to go to sleep faster, but maybe not if you want transported to bizarre worlds.

Review by Simon Wiedemann
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