Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

O Paradis

Released 2004 on El Circulo Records
Reviewed by Eventyr, 06/09/2005ce

Words come to the shore like little waves breaking softly, leaving its oniric and melancholy sediments. Demian, tireless castaway of inner seas, gets us lost in the far islands of nostalgia, memories and solitude. One by one, Demian, “alma mater” of this promising Spanish project, shows in each song a different facet, although several evocative images and metaphors appear repeatedly in his lyrics. As you may think, these lyrics (which are all in Spanish) are very subjective, personal and intimate, though understandable, in Demian’s words, “in dreams or maybe when you’re happy or dead”. Plenty of sad and melancholy feelings that impregnate the whole album, this work also has touches of mysticism and solemnity. Despite this is Ô Paradis’ first “official” work, this introspective record is a compilation of songs coming from different previous demos; however, the result is a coherent and strongly united album. Considering its existentialist implications, this journey couldn’t begin in any other way than with the end. “El fin” introduces, like many other compositions, an overcast and dense atmosphere and a slow percussion that crawls along the piece; suddenly a sampled choir of feminine operatic voices appears, like sirens dragging us down to perdition. A slow and minimalist keyboard melody surrounds us, a circus-like funeral march, but the tinkle of bells reminds us that after all, perhaps this is nothing but a dream… though the end is always near, lurking. In this ending, we hear the final words of the knight, full of anguish, a supplication to Death itself who gives no reply (an extraordinary sampler extracted from Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece “Seventh Seal”). Childhood is the next stop in this journey, a glance at the boy Demian was/is, built over distant and fading memories, and constant references to the shipwrecked character as an image of serene solitude, a role that Demian feels identified with. “Todo Inventado” opens with a downhearted guitar melody, accompanied with a xylophone, an unhurried percussion and little cymbals. A guitar strumming, which will appear later in this song, is immediately seconded by Demian’s recitation, always calmed, deep and poetic: “rain trickles down my window, and that boy that plays in the rain it’s me”, a shipwrecked child. Dream-like effects are very patent along the composition, which ends with a stronger rhythmic percussion, until isolation is the only thing that remains. “La Boca del infierno”, one of my favourite songs, includes the contribution of Rosa Solé with chorus. Component of this band in the past, Rosa has now her own project, Circe, though she still collaborates with Demian in several compositions. This piece begins with a sublime lyric sampler, which seems to be extracted from Leo Delibes’ “Lakmé”; the sampler soon fades out, moving on to a very dense and semi-industrial background, with deep and distorted voices that seem to recite ancient sorceries. Throughout the composition the initial sampler appears again, mixed with the dense environment. A slow but strong percussion that remains in the air gives a semi-ceremonial aspect, and short accordion melodies or tubular bells presence talks to us, again, about dreams. We can hear a more heart-rending lyrics, a passage from a calmness and hopeful past to a painful and poisonous present, full of anger or impotence, for a love disappointment or a lost love. Love is again the theme that inspires next song, “Olvidar”, which oozes gloom and pessimist feelings. Sounds and instruments are introduced one by one until the composition is complete, a structure that is repeated in several songs; first a minimalist melody, followed by the sampled and reversed voice of a child, martial percussions and, finally, Demian’s words. Two recurrent elements are mixed once more in this song: child’s innocence and the sempiternal end, which finally turns into oblivion: “to die is to forget and not to change”. Demian’s drift continues just to reach a calmed and strangely happy solitude in “Conversaciones con uno mismo”. This nearly joyful mood, that is also given shape with the naive melody at the beginning of “El hombre menguante”, suffers a change, a crisis, that breaks through with a cry, moving on to dense atmospheres, cadenced metallic percussions, noises and dark choirs that originate a semi-liturgical ambient that will be developed in other songs. “El hombre menguante”, where the author seems to feel small against the world, is a brilliant short piece that resumes many of Demian’s obsessions and clearly returns to that dream-like state which impregnates the work. I can’t help mentioning a great piece like “Un lugar sin nombre”. With powerful and very evocative lyrics, Demian shows here a more rebel attitude, which is reflected not only in lyrics, sung with more strength, but also in music, with weighty percussions and guitars (introduced by Jordi Busquets). As it’s said in the previous song, a ceremonial and solemn ambient envelopes the composition, this time shaped by a keyboard melody, like a giant church organ that thickens the atmosphere, helped by sampled distorted sounds that assumes the leading role in many moments.

The next three songs, “Donde”, “La sagrada escritura” and “Sirenas”, follow up a deeper and quiet tone but intensely poetic, with beautiful lyrics that can be considered the symbolic core of the album and music that evokes seascapes pictures. Reiterative keyboards, a xylophone melody and sampled violins that fades in and out recreates this undersea ambient in “Donde”, a song which sails at the rhythm of a cadenced bass and metallic percussions. After that, “La sagrada escritura”, with the flux and reflux of the music and the word’s strength of Demian, full of symbolism (“The Holy Scripture is not in books but in the eyes of those who search”), manages to penetrate in our souls like a soft but unstoppable tide that drowns us into the sea. There, the siren’s chant dulls our wounded senses in “Sirenas”. The poet, once again, condenses his thoughts in metaphoric sentences: “where the man dies, the castaway is born”. “Serpiente”, another exceptional composition with the collaboration of Rosa Solé, opens with an electronic/industrial ambient which remains in the background when a minimalist keyboard gets in, accompanied with a rhythmic percussion, more intense in some passages, and the whispering voice of Demian, sibilant like a serpent, revealing incomprehensible truths of the subconscious. The piece as a whole creates a hypnotizing and psychedelic effect, carefully entwined with almost mystic lyrics. This existentialist journey still meets fine moments before it ends, like in “Felicidad”, where a soft piano melody enters very slowly, and new instruments and sounds are added up one by one. Demian tells about a weird and melancholy happiness, full of serenity, which he seems to search tirelessly without a complete success… but the drift finally ends and seems to arrive at some point. “El principio” is, ironically, the final passage, a succession of diverse sound effects that superimpose one on another, like a dark corridor, until a simple and sweet guitar melody gets in gradually, leading us to surface. Once there, we realize that, in fact, we’re at the very beginning. Not asleep nor awaken. Wiser perhaps. Outro: because of the enormous delay of this review, many things have happened to Ô Paradis. Demian has not only made his way but also grown in many aspects. A few works has been released since "Ensueños" came out, and some other are about to come. Several of these records are collaborations with significant bands, like Allerseelen or Novy Svet. In particular, Demian, through his side-project Darkshineswar, has collaborated with Allerseelen in "Cançó de somni/Marqués de Púbol" 7" (2001), together with Rosa Solé, from Circe, and the release of Allerseelen/ Ô Paradis 7" "Funke/Astro Rey" is also planned for April 2003. An Ô Paradis album was released in 2002, "Reinos", which I hope will be reviewed soon, and another work is on the way: "Serpiente de Luna, Serpiente de Sol". HaurucK! is publishing a limited 7" split with Novy Svet between April and May 2003, which will be an advance of a shared album, "Entre siempre y jamás duermen" that is coming out on May 2003. These works and several contributions in compilations (Ducasse, Infernal Proteus, Agalasta, Wir Rufen Deine Wölfe) have made of Ô Paradis a very productive band to follow and take into account. Congratulations. Raúl Rojo - http://www.arrakis.es/~sdczine/O%20PARADIS.htm

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