Friday 17 April 2015

Wino & Conny Ochs - 'Freedom Conspiracy' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 27/3/2015
Label: Exile on Mainstream

Freedom Conspiracy CD//DD//LP track listing:

01 Drain
02 Sound Of Blue
03 Foundation Chaos
04 Crystal Madonna
05 Shards
06 Time Out Black Out
07 Timeless Spirit
08 Freedom Conspiracy
09 Dirt Floor
10 Heavy Heart
11 Forever Gone
12 Invisible Bullets
13 The Great Destroyer


The partnership between Wino and German singer songwriter Conny Ochs has proved fruitful indeed. With “Heavy Kingdom” a couple of years ago, the duo fused their own styles together. This follow up is an even more confident beast. ‘Drain’ hits the right notes with its melancholy and hooks and even a percussion overdub. ‘Sound of Blue’ is not exactly as you would expect it to sound- wistful, yes, but not entirely desperate or without hope. Lovely guitar interplay on this one and Wino sings well as usual, capably backed by Ochs.

Foundation Chaos’ is different again; it boasts nimble double tracking regarding the vocals and weaved guitars. ‘Crystal Madonna’ has an almost familiar guitar refrain- sounding very much like something from Wino's excellent “Adrift” record from a few years back. There are some excellent lyrics here too (story telling and more abstract imagery).

‘Shards’ has a bluesy start, what with its slide guitar, but Ochs takes a melancholy lead vocal that takes the track down a more doleful path than the intro indicates. It is a finely crafted track and highlights the song writing that has gone into this record- stripped of volume and production, the songs have to stand up in the format they are presented. Fortunately, they do and do so admirably. Yes, there is light and shade to the production (electric guitar here, percussion there...) but really, the music does the talking.

‘Time Out Blackout’ is another Ochs showcase, while ‘Timeless Spirit’ is catchy and mellow. The title track has Wino taking the lead and a memorable main riff pressing the refrain into your ear. ‘Dirt Floor’ is almost gospel in its delivery and over the course of its 2mins 22secs is thoroughly charming.

‘Heavy Heart’ goes for a full band arrangement (bass drums, the lot) and adds some further colour. ‘Forever Gone’ is maudlin and effective before Ochs returns to centre stage for ‘Invisible Bullets’. ‘The Great Destroyer’ finishes off this sophomore collaboration with a confident display of song writing and vocal and guitar support.

Overall, I enjoyed this record even more than the debut from this pair of troubadours. I think that it may be a song or two too long, but it is a fine record, filled with light and dark and even some surprises. If you are a fan of either man's work its essential listening.

Words by: Richard Maw

‘Freedom Consipracy’ is available here

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