According to the band the title if translated could mean “ancestor” and OtO focuses on the guidance our ancestors bring to us in modern times. Well considering what we have heard in the past fromWest Virginiaduo Nechochwen like their last otherworldly 2010 album ‘Azimuths To The Otherworld’ this makes perfect sense. This is a spiritual sounding band who dwell in the histories of the American tribes and one gets the sense of old tales from their music taking us back to the days of the frontier and the colonisation of the USA. It’s a case of “white man came across the sea, he brought us….” (you know the rest) but done in a more natural way with emphasis on acoustic work and more a fragile sense of purpose. That is certainly how the first half of this so described ‘double EP’ is directed, the second or B side, as it is a vinyl release is much heavier, in a black metal sense.
The soil is literally organically turned with the acoustic and highly melodic fret work of ‘Cultivation.’ It sounds like something from the 70’s peace and love era, a bygone of yesteryear until a more robust plucking paints anAmericanatwang. Vocals harmoniously croon around ‘On The Wind’ billowing gently to the guitar work and it really is far removed from the sound of hectic life we live in, in our built up cities, more in line with the nature of the world and perhaps the development of discovered lands. In a way it is the sound of New World folk music more than ‘metal’ per se and the natural sounds of rain falling around ‘Otomen’pe (Our Ancestors)’ is gentle and gorgeous. A story is now narrated with spoken words, a tale of times gone by and the listener is left to settle back in their chair, close their eyes and listen. These are all fairly short tracks and the last of them which I would assume finishes side A (from my digital download) ‘Haniipi – misi (Elm Tree) completes the circle with another smoky folky acoustic guitar weave ebbing and flowing through the forest.
‘He Ya Ho Na’ sounds like a Native American Indian chant and if that is what you think you are certainly in the right zone. We are still at first in an acoustic frame of mind but are suddenly startled by a jagged electric guitar chug adding weight along with the vocal croons building up to the song title left alone to waft around. It’s incredibly difficult not to join in with the tribal stomp around them too. It picks up speed and gallops off with the vocals getting more guttural before peace is restored on final track Pekikalooletiiwe (Instructions; an Exhortation)’ Not that this should lull you into a false sense of security as the track is in various parts and rages in admirably. The guitar work is interesting and has a melody that reminds of Thin Lizzy in part and the likes of Mastodon at others but at full flurry with drums pounding it has a very blackened feel to it.
This is very much a work of two intertwined parts, parts which meld very well together and OtO is an intriguing and rich sounding 30 minute affair as one would expect from the excellent label Bindrune Recordings. The only problem is the brevity is likely to leave you hungering for more.
(7/10 Pete Woods)