Thursday 23 January 2020

OZO - Saturn (Album Review)

Release date: February 7th 2020. Label: Riot Season Records. Format: DD/Vinyl

Saturn - Tracklisting

Nuclear Fuel
Slide Way


Drums - Graham Thompson
Alto Sax - Karl Conrad D'Silva
Bass/Guitars - Mike Vest


Saturn is the debut album from Psychedelic Rockers OZO and is a very hard album to describe. As at its core essence is an experimental Jazz based atmosphere blended with Psych Rock, Doom, Noise Rock, Krautrock with Sonic Experimentation to match. It’s purely an instrumental album but one that doesn’t shy away from being hugely experimental and unconventional at the same time. Which isn’t surprising considering the folks behind this project – Graham Thompson, Karl Conrad D’Silva and Mike Vest who are members of the following bands - Members of Ballpeen, Tong Po, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaind, Vanishing, Drunk In Hell, 11Paranoias and BONG.

Opening song – Lifeship – is a Psychedelic and Nightmarish take on Experimental Jazz based Rock with OZO creating an almighty loud sound. The song is quite addictive and moves into many different directions. The saxophone provides most of the Jazz based grooves with Graham and Mike providing a more Experimental Psych/Krautrock outlook with elements of Doom appearing here and there. It’s not the easiest thing to listen to and you need to be in a certain mood to listen to the album. Though it’s quite exciting when OZO go full flow and play a heavier and direct style of music.

Second song – Saturn – carries on the heavy psychedelic trip from the opening song but AMPS it up for an epic thirteen minutes or so. Everything is played looser, heavier and faster with more focus on heavy grooves than the Jazz style tendencies of the opening song. This song reminds me of another Mike Vest project – Blown Out – in many ways. I thought OZO would struggle to play this style of music for this long but it’s superbly weird, confusing and entertaining at the same time. The band almost lose control and focus in the middle but they manage to include a different style of music that gains back your attention with interest.

Third song – Nuclear Fuel – is another progressively long song running past the eleven-minute mark. Things become weirder and heavier yet again with OZO focusing more on their Psychedelic Rock and Jazz based influences. I must say this is my favourite song off the album. As it has a more conventional “Hard Rock” structure compared to the other songs on the album though still highly experimental as well. The distorted psych grooves add a calmer exterior in places but OZO don’t like to be playing the style of music for long and it carries on moving into many different directions.

The final two songs – Slide Way and Centuries – are both shorter songs but still carrying the same psychedelic trappings of the previous songs with Centuries being another standout song on the album. So expect more heavy psychedelic weirdness that will have you questioning your sanity.

Saturn can be called an Avant-Garde album. It’s quite different to what’s currently out there and maybe Saturn will take time to find an established audience. It’s quite a brave album for OZO to come out with for their debut record. It pulls no punches with it’s different style of music and I applaud the band for being different and thinking outside of the box.

The production is excellent and the album does have a classic seventies feel to it which allows Saturn to sound more organic than I initially expected. I’m not surprised that Riot Season Records are releasing Saturn. As that great label is the perfect place for the “Outcasts” of Psychedelic Rock Bands and OZO is no exception. It’s a marriage made in heaven you would say.

Saturn is too far out in places and quite hard to listen to at times. However, it’s never boring and makes for a superbly entertaining album that will surprise you in many different ways.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to OZO for the promo. Saturn will be available to buy on DD/Vinyl via Riot Season Records from Feb 07th 2020.