As a new decade dawns, the music obsessive inhabits a claustrophobic modern era of instant gratification in which they’re seemingly so spoiled by online options and easy access that transcendence can be paradoxically hard to find in the melee. With this in mind, it can be reassuring to be mindful of the manner in which a random discovery in the bargain bins of a second-hand record store or a charity shop can set off sparks of inspiration and untold fascination.
It was naturally just this kind of obsessive chasing of avenues beyond the commonplace and the easily explicable that led to the formation of the fabled Nurse With Wound List by habitual £1-bin-haunter Steven Stapleton in 1979. Within this assemblage of exotic monikers were an eternal coded gateway to worlds of experimentation and adventure that were all the more affecting for their mystery.
A full forty years on, rare though it is to come across a new record in the here and now which conjures up the same sense of ‘other’ as the cryptic artefacts of yore, it seems that one is on the verge of crossing our transom. ‘OCH’ - Swedish for ‘and’ - are poised to release their first album for Rocket Recordings (following a self-released EP which saw the light of day six years ago) This trio - of whom little is known other than a kinship to their labelmates Flowers Must Die - have created a collection of beguiling soundscapes and audial epiphanies that can’t help but summon up the freewheeling ‘70s spirit, the small-hours headspace and the broader sense of adventure that has legendarily dominated the areas of the esoteric.
Amidst these eight exploratory journeys, the listener can plot out a psychic course that traverses the likes of the meditative trance-states of vintage Popol Vuh, the chemically-altered mania of Guru Guru. Synth-driven propulsion akin to French iconoclasts Heldon and Lard Free, and naturally the bucolic raptures of the band’s erstwhile national forebears such as Träd Gräs Och Stenar and
Älgarnas Trädgård, not to mention more recent exponents of the same lineage such as Hills and Dungen. Yet the entire vision the band conveys on this delirious travelogue is both timeless and paradoxically fresh.
Just as their name invokes an ampersand, so this record is no less than a gateway who knows where; proof positive that these dimensions beyond the everyday - at the hands of OCH - are as accessible in 2020 as ever they were, not to mention still more potent.