From Shindig #67

"Finally, clap like seals for the marvellous, palindromic OHO, misleadingly short-handed as “Baltimore’s answer to Pink Floyd,” and still out there doing stuff despite having released their debut album in ’74 and remaining under the radar for longer than a drone sub piloted by the Illuminati. Where Words Do Not Reach (The Instrumentals) ★★★★, OHO MUSIC CD) is a bracing compilation of performances recorded by a shifting OHO line-up over the course of their four-decade career, all undertaken with unquenchable brio. The Floyd comparison may allude to their occasional interludes of committed atonality (‘Snow Lady/I Crawled’, the back half of the 16-minute ‘Nazi Dog Jam’), but they’re a filthier, jazzier, poppier and thriftier proposition – sometimes like MX-80 Sound being strafed by The B-52s (‘Board Organ’), sometimes like King Crimson manhandling Jellyfish (2010’s ‘Arclight’)."

Shindig #67

"The apple never falls far from the tree: 
Doom (★★★, OHO MUSIC) by EL SLEDGE (+) finds Matt 
Graboski, son of OHO's Jay, perpetuating a kind of end-times hyper-prog, with his dad gamely holding down the band’s low end. It’s less to my taste than OHO – those standing-on-a-promontory-in-a-gale vocals can go either way – but there’s no denying the passion, the musicianship and the exemplary whisper-to-haemorrhage dynamic range. At its slickest and least friendly, you may be reminded of the dreaded Dream Theater, with a kit made entirely from 
bass drums tumbling down the Odessa steps; but at its most inspired it suggests what Van Der Graaf might have sounded like if they’d been born 30 years later, in Baltimore, during an earthquake. Besides which, Doom is the kind of album title we can really get behind in our new dark age."

Arlequins.it

(See Translation below)

Ne è passata di acqua sotto i ponti dal 1974, anno di debutto degli OHO, un enigmatico e pazzoide gruppo di Baltimora, dalla lunga carriera ma dalla fama purtroppo oscura. Del nucleo originale sopravvive ormai il solo chitarrista e cantante Jay Graboski, accompagnato nell’assemblaggio di questo vero e proprio lavoro di bricolage, dal batterista David Reeve, entrato a far parte della storia del gruppo nel 1977. Attorno a questo perno ruota poi tutta una serie di musicisti, intervenuti in tempi diversi a ritoccare e rifinire le tracce qui contenute. Non so dirvi di preciso quanti dischi abbiano prodotto gli OHO prima di questo perché la loro discografia è molto confusa, comprendendo raccolte varie con inediti e anche alcuni titoli un po’ misteriosi e ci vorrebbe quindi un bel lavoro investigativo per venirne a capo. Ma tutto questo in fondo poco importa ai fini di questa recensione che non ha alcuna pretesa di trasformarsi in un trattato. Vi basti sapere che nel corso della loro esistenza gli OHO hanno cambiato spesso pelle, partendo da uno svitato garage prog piuttosto anarchico e disinibito, passando attraverso un’avanguardia con note Canterburyane non meno eclettica, fino ad approdare verso i sentieri di un pop ammiccante ma comunque abbastanza sofisticato e sinfonico negli anni più recenti.

Questo album, che è come abbiamo accennato un vero e proprio lavoro di bricolage, raccoglie materiale che va dal 1983 al 2007, rielaborato, arricchito, sovrainciso ed infiocchettato in maniera tale da sembrare a tutti gli effetti un disco nuovo di zecca, perfettamente in linea con le produzioni progressive dei nostri giorni e dallo stile abbastanza omogeneo, che non lascia cioè percepire gli sbalzi temporali che separano le varie canzoni. Dicevamo che i musicisti che si sono impegnati per la realizzazione di questo album sono diversi e comprendono ben 7 voci femminili. Molti di questi, pur comparendo nella stessa traccia, non si sono neanche mai incontrati. Ricostruire la storia precisa di un pezzo è una faccenda un po’ complessa e proprio per questo, a corredare questo CD, è stato inserito un DVD contenete, oltre a una serie di filmati interessanti, anche tutti i crediti delle canzoni. Scopriamo così, ad esempio, che il pezzo di apertura, “The Great Attractor”, ha uno strato più antico di tastiere (suonate da Xoho Lazzaroni) e di voce (quella di Grace Hearn) risalente al 1990, con il basso di Steve Carr, la chitarra acustica di Graboski e la voce di Mary O’Connor del 1991, altre armonie vocali del 1993, batteria, tastiere e percussioni di Reeve del 2004 e così via. In alcuni pezzi la stratificazione diventa impressionante ma vi posso comunque assicurare che questa specie di artificio tecnologico, considerando l’effetto conclusivo, ha un che di miracoloso. Non sapendo nulla della sua storia potreste benissimo pensare ad un fresco album di prog rock melodico a tinte folk, dalle colorazioni vintage, registrato in una normale seduta appena qualche mese fa.
Le canzoni dell’album vero e proprio sono 13, alle quali sono state aggiunte ben 7 bonus tracks, di cui 3 mai pubblicate in precedenza. La musica ha un impatto solare e scorre leggera attraverso delicati intrecci elettro-acustici, cori ammiccanti, prevalentemente tutti al femminile, che ricordano in alcuni momenti qualcosa dei Glass Hammer, con ritornelli ariosi e cantabili. Si alternano morbidi impasti folk, talvolta con un violino che ricorda vagamente qualcosa dei Kansas, a suggestioni che hanno un certo sentore anni Ottanta. Le voci soliste variano di traccia in traccia e fra queste segnalo in particolare quella di Kelly Grochmal (la possiamo sentire per esempio nel secondo pezzo, “Eros Is a Verb”) che ricorda vagamente la voce di una giovane Susanna Hoffs. Molto bella è anche la voce di Grace Hearn (alla quale è affidata, ad esempio, la traccia di apertura, “The Great Attractor”) che ricorda invece qualcosa di più vicino a Christina Booth dei Magenta. Gli arrangiamenti sono delicati ma abbastanza particolareggiati, freschi e vivaci e donano luminosità a tracce dove regna sovrana la melodia ed un romantico senso di spensieratezza. Sostanzialmente riscopriamo in questo album un’anima pop che si concretizza in canzoni a volte molto belle e a volte in episodi meno convincenti e più banali. Nel complesso si tratta di album piacevole che, con i suoi pregi ed i suoi (pochi) difetti e tutte le sue particolarità, mi sono ritrovata più volte ad ascoltare e riascoltare con gusto.
Riguardo ai contenuti del DVD, troviamo, a parte i crediti ed i testi delle canzoni dell’album, una serie di bei documenti dal vivo, che comprendono materiale che va dal 1988 al 1992, alcune interviste e dei video promozionali, più altre curiosità. Infine segnalo la bella confezione in digipack che sfoggia disegni belli e colorati. Un album da tener presente per gli amanti del prog melodico e romantico… forse non si tratta della via maestra per tentare un primo approccio agli OHO ma magari anche sì… scopritelo voi.

 

Transalation

It's water under the bridge since 1974, year of debut of oil, a enigmatic and freak group of Baltimore, from the long career but by fame unfortunately dark. Of the original core survives by now, the only guitarist and singer Jay Graboski, accompanied in the assembly of this real work of arts and crafts, from the drummer David Reeve, entered to make part of the history of the group in 1977. around this pin wheel then a whole Series of musicians, spoken in different times to retouch and finishing of the traces contained here. I can't tell you exactly how many records have produced the oil before this because their discography is very confused, including various collections with new and even some titles a bit mysterious, and it would take so a good detective work to figure it out. But all this does not matter in the fund for the purposes of this review which has no claim to turn into a treaty. You need to know that in the course of their existence, they changed the oil often skin, starting from a nutter garage prog rather anarchist and uninhibited, passing through an avant-garde with notes canterburyane no less eclectic, towards the paths of a pop winking face but anyway Pretty sophisticated and symphonic in recent years.
This album, which is, as we have mentioned a real work of DIY, collects material that goes from 1983 to 2007, hash, enriched, sovrainciso and bow in such a way that they seem to all intents and purposes a disc brand new , perfectly in line with the progressive productions of our days and homogeneous enough style that leaves nothing, I mean feel the time slips that separate the various songs. We said that the musicians that are committed for the realization of this album are different and include Ben 7 Female voices. Many of these, even though they are in the same track, they didn't even ever met. To rebuild the definite story of a piece this is a little complex and precisely for this reason, to accompany this CD, has been inserted a DVD containing, in addition to a series of interesting footage, even all the claims of the songs. We find out that, for example, that the piece of openness, "the great attractor", Has a layer oldest of keyboards (played by xoho lazzaroni) and voice (that of Grace Hearn) dating back to 1990, with the low of Steve Carr, the acoustic guitar of graboski and the voice of Mary O ' Connor of 1991 , other vocal harmonies of 1993, drums, keyboards and percussion of reeve of 2004 and so on. In a few pieces the stratification becomes impressive but there but I can assure you that this sort of technological fireworks, considering the effect conclusive, it is kind of a miracle. Not knowing nothing of its history you may very well get to think of a cool album of melodic prog rock to complexions folk, from Vintage Colorways, recorded in a normal sitting just a few months ago.
The songs of the album real are 13, to which were added Ben 7 BONUS TRACKS, of which 3 were never published previously. The music has an impact from the sun and the light flows through delicate intrecci electro-Acoustic Choirs, alluring, mostly all the female, who remember in some moments something of glass hammer, with refrains and airy cantabili. Alternate with soft dough folk, sometimes with a violin that vaguely remember something of Kansas, suggestions that have an inkling eighties. The lead vocals vary of track in track and among these i would point out in particular that of Kelly Grochmal (the can we hear for example in the second piece, "Eros is a verb") That is vaguely the voice of a young susanna hoffs. Very beautiful is also the voice of Grace Hearn (to which it is entrusted, for example, the opening track, "the great attractor") Who remembers instead something more near Christina Booth of Magenta. The arrangements are sensitive but detailed enough, fresh and lively and give brightness to tracks where reigns the melody and a romantic sense of carelessness. Basically rediscovering in this album a soul pop that materialises in songs sometimes very beautiful and sometimes in episodes less convincing and more banal. Overall, this is pleasant album which, with its merits and its faults (few) and all its features, I found myself more times to listen again and again and again with taste.
With regard to the content of the DVD, we find, besides the credits and the lyrics of the songs of the album, a series of eib documents live, which include material that goes from 1988 to 1992, some interviews and of promotional videos, more Other curiosities. Finally I would point out the beautiful pack in digipack sporting drawings beautiful and colourful. An album should be taken into account for the lovers of the prog melodic and romantic... Maybe it's not the way to attempt a first approach to woo-but maybe also yes... Is it inside.

 

Arlequins.it

(See Translation below)

Nonostante la curiosità e la grande ammirazione che la scena prog americana underground dei Seventies riesce a suscitare nell’animo degli appassionati, raramente ho avuto modo di sentir parlare in giro degli OHO. Eppure stiamo parlando di una band longeva e prolifica, piuttosto originale ed eclettica, che è riuscita a produrre opere di valore. Sarà forse per il loro spirito bizzarro o per il loro modo di fare irriverente e goliardico, sarà perché ogni disco è diverso dall’altro e non si riesce a trovare un vero e proprio filo conduttore che li colleghi, sarà forse il fatto che qualche scivolone in alcune occasioni lo hanno fatto o forse perché hanno scelto la strada dell’autoproduzione in un periodo in cui questa scelta significava essere praticamente tagliati fuori dal mercato… sarà tutto questo o forse no ma è giunto il momento per molti di voi di scoprire questo gruppo grazie magari proprio alla ristampa di “Okinawa”, uno dei loro vertici artistici.
OHO, tre lettere che ricordano il suono di una tonda risata, sono le iniziali dei cognomi di Joe O’Sullivan (chitarra), Steve Heck (basso) e Mark O’Connor (tastiere), scelte nel 1973 per il nome di questa band. Le radici del gruppo affondano però fino al 1970, epoca in cui i due musicisti con la O, più il cantante e chitarrista Jay Graboski, suonavano blues in un club di Baltimora. Un anno più tardi i due O formano un quartetto di prog sinfonico a tinte gotiche, i Little Hans, assieme al fratello di Jay alla batteria, Jeff, e a Trent Zeigen alle tastiere. Per inciso, vale la pena cercare il loro unico album, “Wunderkind”, un concept di 45 minuti ispirato a Peter Pan. Un anno più tardi i Little Hans si sciolgono e qui inizia l’avventura degli OHO, un pazzo trio che si dedica alla sperimentazione più bizzarra e rumorosa che viene presto completato col ritorno di Jay Graboski e con un nuovo elemento: il batterista fusion Larry Bright. Giungiamo quindi ad “Okinawa”, il debutto discografico degli OHO che avviene nel Luglio del 1974 e che rappresenta tra l’altro uno dei primi album stampati in maniera indipendente da un gruppo americano. La band racconta di essere incappata in un certo numero di individui che avevano promesso di distribuire e vendere il disco, ed è finita poi col regalare la maggior parte delle copie stampate. E’ così che la versione originale “Okinawa” è diventata un vero e proprio pezzo da collezione ed è forse anche per questo che degli OHO si sente poco parlare in giro. E questo vizio di fare regali è rimasto nel tempo a questi svitati, dal momento che alcune ristampe su CD sono state date in omaggio assieme ad una rivista americana di Prog.
Ma torniamo ad “Okinawa”: la ristampa in oggetto, una splendida versione in CD apribile, con un nutrito booklet, contiene un totale di 30 pezzi per una durata complessiva di circa 74 minuti, mentre la versione originale era di sole 16 tracce. I pezzi in più, intercalati in maniera sparsa nel contesto della scaletta originale, appartengono alla stessa seduta di registrazione ed il lavoro è assemblato in maniera unitaria e consequenziale. Musicalmente l’album si presenta come un’opera schizofrenica, suonata in maniera insolente e disinibita, che non a caso si apre, a mo’ di sberleffo, con il fracasso di fragorose risate (“Laughing”). La filastrocca scandita da voci rumorose di “Opposites” prelude alla traccia di apertura vera e propria, “Duva”, che ci lascia subito spaesati con i suoi suoni graffianti, i cori urlati e strampalati e una vena creativa molto vicina a Captain Beefheart o Zappa, condita da squarci di psichedelia, ammiccanti colorazioni flower power, e di art rock, con virate improvvise verso i Gentle Giant ma anche fugaci allusioni ai Jefferson Airplane. Non è facile inquadrare gli OHO in questo album come anche nei successivi e con lo scorrere dei minuti capiamo che è totalmente inutile farsi delle domande mentre è opportuno abbandonarsi alla follia musica senza opporre resistenza, accettando anche di sentirsi presi in giro dall’irriverenza di questi musicisti. Alcune tracce appaiono fin troppo rudimentali e scanzonate, come “Parts and Ponds”, urlata da una voce a dir poco sgraziata e ai limiti del punk, altre sono dei brevissimi sketch, come “The Unfortunate Frankfurter Vendor” o la bizzarra “Corrective Shoes”, altre ancora si presentano maggiormente elaborate, con bei momenti di poesia e liricità, come nella conclusiva “The Plague”, in cui, attraverso la melma e il modo di suonare abbastanza rumoroso, emergono suggestivi frammenti di Genesis. In linea generale tutto l’album è suonato in maniera istintiva, disordinata e sregolata, come se la band ci propinasse in maniera aselettiva tutto quello che gli possa passare lì per lì per la testa, e ne deriva un’accozzaglia variegata di momenti musicali che possono risultare esaltanti ma anche molto snervanti per il loro disordine e la loro frammentarietà. Si tratta di un disco spigoloso che ci fornisce uno strano prototipo di Garage Progressive a suo modo geniale e sicuramente divertente da ascoltare a volume alto, senza far troppo caso ai particolari.
L’album “Okinawa” fa parte di una trilogia assieme al successivo “Vitamin OHO” e all’inedito “Dream of the Ridiculous Band” del 1976 (disponibile in formato digitale sul sito della band). Le idee qui contenute avranno, nel corso della discografia della band, gli sviluppi più impensati, ma questa è un’altra storia, per il momento iniziamo pure da questo bel primo capitolo.

 

Translation

Despite the curiosity and the great admiration that the scene prog American underground of the seventies can arouse in the minds of fans, I have rarely had the opportunity to hear about around the cue. Yet here we are talking about a band long-lived and prolific, rather eccentric and eclectic, which is able to produce works of value. It will perhaps be for their spirit bizarre or for their way of doing disrespectful and frat boy, it will be because every disc is different from the other and you can't find a real thread that links them, it will be, maybe the fact that some slipup in Some occasions they did it or maybe why they chose the path of self-handling in a period in which this choice meant be virtually cut off from the market... It will be all this or maybe not, but the time has come for many of you to discover this group thank you maybe right at the reprint of "Okinawa", One of their artistic summits.
Cue, three letters that recall the sound of a round laugh, are the initials of the surnames of Joe O ' Sullivan (Guitar), Steve Heck (low) and Mark O ' Connor (keyboards), Choices in 1973 for the name of this band. The roots of the group are, however, until 1970, era in which the two musicians with the or, more the singer and guitarist Jay Graboski, they were playing blues in a club of Baltimore. A year later the two or form a quartet of prog symphonic to complexions erotic, the little Hans, together with Jay's brother on drums, Jeff, and Trent Zeigen on keyboards. Incidentally, it is worth find their only album, "wunderkind coming", A concept of 45 minutes inspired by Peter Pan. A year later the little Hans Melt and here begins the adventure of oil, a crazy trio that is dedicated to the most bizarre experimentation and loud that is soon completed with the return of jay graboski and with a new element: The Drummer Fusion Larry Bright. So we come to "Okinawa", The recording debut of the oil that takes place in July of 1974, and that is between the other one of the first music printed in an independent manner by an American group. The band tells she stumbled upon a number of individuals who had promised to distribute and sell the disc, and it's over then with gift it most of the printed copies. It's so that the original version "Okinawa" has become a real collector's item and it is perhaps for this reason too that the oil is feeling a little talk around. And the habit of giving gifts has remained in the time these freaks, since some reprints on cd have been given in tribute together with an American Magazine of prog.
But back to "Okinawa": The Reprint in question, a beautiful version on CD, electric windows with a fed booklet, contains a total of 30 pieces for a total duration of about 74 minutes, while the original version was only 16 tracks. The pieces in more, interspersed in a manner that is spread in the context of the original playlist, belong to the same recording session and the job is assembled in a unitary and consequential. Musically the album presents himself as an opera schizophrenic, played it in a way that insolent and uninhibited, that they don't open, by way of mockery, with the din of joyful laughter (" Laughing "). The rhyme was timed with loud voices of " opposites " Prelude to the opening track, " Grape ", That leaves us now at home with his sounds naughty, the choirs heckling and with the fruitcake and a creative very close to captain beefheart or hoe, spicy from slashes of psychedelia, Provocating Colorways, flower power, and art rock, with sudden turn towards the gentle Giant but also fleeting allusions to the Jefferson airplane. It is not easy to place the oil in this album as well as in the next and with the passage of the minutes, we understand that it is completely pointless asking questions while it is appropriate to surrender yourself to madness music without resistance, accepting also of being pulled around by the disrespect of these musicians . Some traces appear far too rudimentary and scanzonate, like "parts and ponds", Yelled it from a voice, to say the least, clumsy and limits of punk, others are of very brief sketch, like " the unfortunate frankfurter vendor " or the odd " corrective shoes ", Yet others are more developed, with beautiful moments of poetry and liricità final, as in "the plague", In which, through the slime and the way of playing loud enough, there are suggestive fragments of Genesis. In General the whole album is played spontaneously, disorderly, and disorderly, as if the band in there propinasse aselettiva everything that can go there for there for the head, and it follows a mishmash of varied musical moments that may be Exciting but also very nerve-wracking for their mess and their fragmented. This is a disc angular that provides us with a strange prototype of garage progressive in its own way brilliant and entertaining to listen to high volume, without too much attention to detail.
The album " Okinawa " is part of a trilogy with the next " Vitamin Oil " and the new " dream of the ridiculous band " of 1976 (available in digital format on the website of the band). The ideas contained here will have, in the course of the discography of the band, developments in the most unlikely places, but this is another story, for the moment we start from this nice first chapter.

 

Terrascope


 
 

OHO - WELCOME TO THE PALINDROME...

Welcome to the palindrome, or, Oho in redux....I can't quite pin down the very first occasion I came across the name OHO. No doubt it was from a zine such as Trev Faull's "Outlet" or Jimmy and Byron's "Forced Exposure."... who can tell in those dark pre-internet times? But what I can state with some certainty is that the first Oho vinyl I scored by this obscurist Baltimoreian outfit was a lavish vinyl repro of "Vitamin Oho" issued by the sorely missed "Little Wing of refugees" imprint (pictured left), which was sold to me by one of 'the two Bills' at the again, sorely missed 'Plastic Passion' emporium, once of London's Notting Hill.

For me, Oho seemed to share rack space with fellow countrymen The Rascal Reporters, The Muffins and even Ohioans Tin Huey - Canterbury's overseas branch, if you will. As an extra boost to their cred... they were hep enough to get a mention in George & Defoe's "International Discography of the New Wave" megatome, which suggests some kinda avant prog/post punk allignment type thing. For this career overview, I've decided to set out my stall on Oho-branded and Oho-related produce in chronological order. So... we open the curtains on an Oho-precursor called GROK; a sixtet who flickered on and off during the early seventies and shared somewhat incongruous billing with L.J. Baldrey, Dave Mason and a pre-fame Aerosmurf (!) Grok's sleeve-art is a fine piece of work, recalling 'The Galaxy Being" from American T.V.'s "Outer Limits" and while the contents of their sel-titled c.d. aren't quite aglow with unearthly kozmik energy (cue spooky theremin...), there's still a solid body of compact, hard rock flexing within, which comes allied to a number of unusual stylistic detours and some obtuse elements residing in the wordsmithery department. "Hopeless" and "Insanity" have some strident femme/male vocal trade-offs, c/o Bill Joy and Colette Kelly, while the instro scenery heads towards the heavier end of the spectrum, kinda like Serpent Power chaperoned by Blue Oyster Cult's Sandy Pearlman. As a p.o.i., engineering duties on thos tracks were overseen by the legendary Dick Kunc and if you're only a mild Zappophile, you'd know that name as well as your own. Witness also the mid-period Byrds-a-like "That she is you", replete with a banjo solo that'd elicit a grin from Roger McGuinn. The jokey Martin Mullesque "C.R.S." (Can't Remember Shit), is a soft shoe shuffle hymn to those senior moments, while "Keep the Changes Comin'" is jumpstarted by an irreverent snatch of that ole warhorse..."Smoke on the Water". The epic blow-out (coming in at 15.17), "The Lady and the Serpent" is a live recording from 1973 and alongside the obligatory drum solo, there's some splendid axe manipulation by one Dale German, whose playing, right through this collection, one minute stinging, the next lyrical is one hell of a discovery and certainly worthy of inclusion in the next set of Galactic Zoo Dossier "Guitar Gods" trading cards. It's a crying shame (how many times have you heard this?), that Grok didn't get a disc or two to their name during their brief time in the smaller spotlights. Nevertheless this career anthology, culled from sources various, consistently grabs the attention, decades later.

And so emerging from the ashes of 'Gothic Progressives' Little Hans and purist bloozband Quinn (containing ex-Grok guitarist Jay Graboski), come the Ohomen! Their now highly collectable debut full lengther "Okinawa" was initially realized as a quadruple ten-inch set, packaged in a metal box (yah boo sucks Public Image!), on their own Oho imprint. Since then, 'Little Wing's" 1995 vinyl repro made a change in sleeve art concepts, coming topped and tailed in a fetching shade of shocking pink, redolent of sixties tiled bathrooms. The 'Rockadrome' cd edition ('under review') duplicates this colour scheme and increases the bulk with an extra sixteen cuts taken from sessions of a 1974 vintage. One of the first albums released independently by a U.S. band in the seventies, its super abrupt time changes, art-damaged babble, Mothers-like genre parodies and Broadway dadaisms sadly bombed on release. The good burghers of Baltimore and surrounding areas having their noses put out of joint by its avantist thrust and high level general weirdness quotient; with tracks like "Brown Algae is Attractive", "The Salient Sickle Sucker", and "A Frog for You" wearing a peculiar bouquet even to this very day. And check out lyrical poesie such as "Your douchebag is leaking on my ceiling and I don't like it. Almond clusters on my bedspread look like pygmies without their heads. All the hearts are in a pile. All the livers are full of bile." (from "Manic Detective"). So there goes local airplay too! And while the liner notes drop certain mentions of Canterburyesque/Brit prog moves, I think "Okinawa"'s nearest relatives (just over the brow of yonder hill in that tumbledown shack...) must surely be those other great genius misfits of the age; The Hampton Grease Band, whose debut double set, on a major label no less, corpsed too!!

Shinning down the Oho family tree a little more, we find former Oho members Mark O'Connor (keyboards etc) and Jay Graboski embracing THE DARK SIDE; an outfit belonging to the first wave of U.S. garage band revivalists along with The Unclaimed, The Chesterfield Kings and The Lyres. Their prime directive... reupholstering the moves and attitood of the classic American sixties teenbands for the demands of the discerning eighties swinger. Their "Odd Fellows on an Even Day" c.d. anthology comprises the now rare as hen's dentures "Rumors in our own Time, Legends in our own Room" L.P. (on the Go Hog label), with various other bits'n'bobs extracted from e.p.s, Voxx comps and suchlike. The two things that separated them from their contemporaries? Of the twenty-six tracks on show, only one (count it!) is a cover version and secondly, that certain details within the garagage blueprint such as the adenoidenally-edged vocals aligned with blasts of angry wasp fuzztone are given a total heave-ho. Instead we have widescreen production values, manly guitar chordage, cheesy farfisa trills and David Johansen-styled motormouthery, from David Jarkovski, supported by Steve Simcoe's booting tenor sax (on "Good Boy" and "Can't get used to it"), operating in the same manner as the fabulous Buddy Bowser did on da Dolls' debut waxing. Other highpoints include the ornate harpsichord copperplate and Coral electric sitar (?) on "Bondage" and "Down the Tubes"; a classic mid-paced slice of teen angst that would've been an absolutely perfect fit for Del Shannon in his later years. Not a cuban heel or a bowl cut in sight!! Can such things be??

Recorded from 1981 to 1984 and then mastered in 1999, FOOD FOR WORMS' "The Ultimate Diet" c.d. fully endorses that old adage that when punk met keyboards, new wave was born. With Jay Graboski, Mark O'Connor, bassist Paul Rieger and David Reeve (The Dark Side's producer and drummer respectively), on board, one gets the impression that they've set their sights on the quirkier end of the new wave movement that emerged from British shores, with early Ultravox, Barry Andrews-era XTC, the Yachts and the much neglected Punishment of Luxury springing to mind. Those herky/jerky rivvums captured in bright, eye-rubbing colours, combine with staccato vocals that ooze dry wit; studies in alienation and consumer parodies scooting by in a hectic, blink and you'll miss it way. In fact, of the twenty-six choons here, the longest cut "The Worm is the Word" (paraphrasing The Trashmen?) comes in at 4.34, while the gaudy rush that is "Neil's Stick", at just over a minute and a half, is shown the chequered flag before being completing the course. I will say that listening to this disc in its entirety, in one go, is a bit like being egged on to demolish a mountain of cream cakes - the appetite flags way too soon. I'd suggest a five a day regime instead. Oh, and if you thought that their "Mr. Twister" track refers to the legendary Iggy-like performer/vocalist who fronted Christopher Milk and Chainsaw, you'd be sadly barking up the wrong tree. Any tributes out there to that particular gent (m.i.a.?) are I guess, still at the drawing board stage...

Matt Graboski ('son of Jay'), who guitarred on "Arclight" from "Where Words...) can also be found with powerful drummer Steve Sroka and his dad on bass duties, on EL SLEDGE (+)'s Their "Doom" c.d., after "The Baltimore Initiative" and "Fletcher's Last Night" releases is an unassuming looking package wrapped in plain brown card stock, (perhaps the non-promo copies get a plusher sleeve?). The accompanying post-it proclaiming "This is Heavy!" ...just about nails this particular beast in one fell swoop. Heavy in an early seventies kinda way, where a certain seam of hard rock is excavated, to which elements of prog and even jazz nuances are accommodated. Heavy metal fatigue need never be mentioned as this is a far more enticing prospect. Note the ascending riffs on "The Hour Glass", redolent (in parts),of a latter stage Crimso work out and the unpredictible twists 'n' turns written into a lion's share of the arrangements, (see "Primal Scream" and "The Eschaton"). Matt's vocals especially on the end times diorama "Golgotha" are a dramatic entity thankfully shorn of the histrionics seemingly employed by the hordes, thinking that 'oversinging' is an essential component of the genre. Not so. As "Doom" seems to be the last part of a trilogy (?)...what next fer th' Sledge (+)? Who knows, but they're certainly a name to retain in the brain...and before I forget...what's the story behind that bracketed 'plus sign'?

Meanwhile, back with OHO, their "Where Words do not Reach - The Instrumentals" c.d. was composed/performed over a thirty-one year period from 1974 to 2015 and employs the services of a huge host of instrumentalists, two football teams worth in fact. In amongst the windchime-ists and those fine purveyors of the french horn and hammer dulcimer, familiar names like Jay Graboski, Mark O'Connor, Joseph O'Sullivan, Larry Bright (Oho's drummer), and Dark Siders David Reeve, Jeff Graboski and Pete Wulforst are found to be in attendance. Though I'd say for sure, that guitarist Joseph O'Connor really steals this particular show. And while he's more tastefully submerged within the workings of "Dog Lane", "House Party" and the jaunty, Hatfieldesque "Aubrey Circle Dance", he really makes his mark on a number of surprising departures from the Oho main drag. Check out the bee-yoo-tiful acoustic guitar showcases "Motion of Motion" and "Albumblatt" (both dating from 1976 and perfection for those Fahey and Bashophiles amongst us...) and the 16.45 mins of "Nazi Dog Jam"; a bluesy slab of heaviosity from the same year. Though it's surely a little too early timewise for that title to be a tip of the cap to Steven Leckie a.k.a. "Nazi Dog" of canuck punkers The Viletones...but then again...

(Steve Pescott)

Contact addresses:-
Oho Music, 1505 Tredegar Avenue, Catansville, MD 21228-5663, U.S.A. www.ohomusic.com for the Grok and The Dark Side.
Rockadrome Records, P.O. Box 460341, San Antonio, TX 78246-0341, U.S.A. www.rockadrome.com for "Okinawa".
Yodelin' Pig Records, 10435 Reisterstown Road, Building 3, Owings Mills, MD 21117, U.S.A. www.ohomusic.com for the "Food for Worms".
Airiaid Records, 1725 Belt Street, Baltimore. MD 21230, U.S.A. www.airaidrecords.com for "Doom".

Progression Magazine

3+1/2 stars=between "good" (3 stars) and "very good" (4 stars)

OHO's photo.
OHO's photo.
OHO's photo.

http://progpositivity.com/

Feedback from a listener (Brook) of http://progpositivity.com, an internet, prog music ration station. . . 

"Hey, bro...just stopped by for a few minutes and caught some OHO...love it. Probably stop back by in a little while."

 

Sea of Tranquility

OHO: Where Words Do Not Reach (The Instrumentals)

Baltimore based OHO has its roots going all the way back to 1970 but the band officially began in 1973. The original band members were Mark O'Connor, Steve Heck, Joe O'Sullivan, Jay Graboski and Larry Bright. What is really cool to see is how the band has been revived in recent years, certainly an exciting time in the OHO camp.

 

Where Words Do Not Reach is their new album, an archival collection of their instrumental works dating back to 1975 and ending with a couple of new tunes. A word of warning; OHO will not be for everyone, especially if you stick more to the mainstream. For the more adventuresome listener there is a lot to appreciate here starting with the intense album opening "Board Organ" where furious drumming, off kilter keyboards and fiery guitar run amok in an all-out progressive psychedelic jam. "Nocturnal Recurrence" is another solid track and very heavy on the keyboards while "Albumblatt" is an excellent all acoustic guitar number with impressive fret work from O'Sullivan and serves as a nice reprieve from the previous chaos. "Motion of Motion" is another fine acoustic guitar piece followed by the much heavier "Snow Lady/I Crawled" where the band's eclecticism shows up in the form of wild keyboard sounds and a somewhat darker theme. The band continues its genre hopping with the pop inspired "Aubrey Circle Dance" and the feel good country grooves in Non-Sex Nonsense". The album ends with two new tracks, "Slough of Despond" and "Unique", both having a more refined sound with the latter featuring mostly piano and Gabroski's treated guitar chords.

 

For those of you unfamiliar with OHO this might be a good place to start as it covers a wide range of styles and sounds, enhanced by the band's eclectic arrangements and tuneful songwriting. Fans of progressive/psychedelic rock should certainly find much to enjoy.

 

Favourite tracks: "Nocturnal Recurrence", "Snow Lady/I Crawled and "Unique".

 

 

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Correspondence

Thanks for sending me a copy of your CD. I've had it in the car recently.

 I'll forget it's in the player and start the car and then think, "Wow WTMD is really stretching out!"

 Then after a tune or three I remember.

 Parts of it make me thing of movie sound tracks (in a good way)

 Parts of it makes me think of Frank Zappa.

 I also really like the classical guitar pieces

 Then there are some sort of nuevo pop pieces

 And those tunes with the trumpet…who's playing those parts? That's very fun stuff!

 I have a music friend in LA who's got ties to Baltimore. Would it be OK if I made a copy and sent one to him?

 Thanks Again! Good to know you guys are still at it.

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"What can be said about Oho that hasn't been said already? Born in the mid-'70s as Baltimore's response to Pink Floyd (arriving a little late for the British Invasion), they fused psychedelic rock with the free jazz of progressive rock to create a very unique musical style. I came across the band accidentally a few years ago when my local record store had free download cards for the albums "Up" and "Bricolage," which showed the band extending their talents into the area of new wave, but I found myself very intrigued with the band's music. Lyrically, they come from somewhere that's way out of left field, and I often find myself scratching my head over where their lyrics even come from; however, musically, this band has a LOT of talent.

"The recordings range from the band's early material dating back to 1974 all the way through 2015 with several new songs recorded specifically for this release. Some of the songs sound as if they were recorded live, although that could be the result of recording in a less-than-stellar studio. After all, Oho was and has really always been an underground band, adhering very strongly to the DIY ethics of the '70s-era punkers. All-in-all, if you really enjoy instrumental albums and are interested in progressive rock, this is certainly an album you should add to your collection. While eccentric, Oho has released some rather excellent songs over their 40-plus year history, and many of them are collected here.
Enjoy!" --Kirk Gauthier

Expose

Oho — Where Words Do Not Reach
(Oho Music OM64.75, 2015, )

 

 

by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-04-25

Cover art

Have to hand it to Baltimore’s Oho, they are definitely one of the most eccentric bands in the annals of prog rock – take any two of their albums and they don’t even sound like the same band. Perhaps that’s due to a very fast evolution during their first few releases, starting with a psychedelic sound (onOkinawa) then quickly moving into a more progressive phase (Vitamin Oho) then continuing to evolve when players changed, members came in from side projects, and releases became more infrequent (although the band has continued to record over the years, many tracks remain unreleased), but through it all their output has been consistently top notch. Here we have an archive of the band’s instrumental material, 19 pieces total, spanning the years 1974 through 2015, featuring four different incarnations of the band, and as one might guess there are many different (and often divergent) styles featured herein. “Board Organ” opens the proceedings, a crazed seven-and-a-half minute romp through psychedelic electric jazz territory with a strong hint of Burnt Weeny era Zappa. It, along with the other first six cuts track the early-era Oho, including some from the never-released 1976 album Dream of the Ridiculous Band like the brilliant guitar acoustic guitar solos “Albumblatt” and “Motion of Motion.” Tracks 7-13 comprise the instrumental tracks for the aborted 1977 Oho House album, just before the band split up temporarily; those seven cuts are really all over the map – jubilant and celebratory, it’s clear the band was trying a lot of new and different things at that point, yet still nailing it every time. Following that we go back to 1976 again with the near 17-minute live stretch-out “Nazi Dog Jam,” a sure sign of the band’s psychedelic roots. The last five cuts here represent the more recent Oho instrumentals, from 1987 to present. Of these two tracks stand out as arguably this disc’s finest moments: 1990’s “Peradam” and 2010’s “Arclight,” twenty years apart, but both essentially guitar based pieces in new standard tuning, the former featuring hammer dulcimer, trumpet, and wordless female vocals, the latter with beautiful violin accompaniment. Two cuts from 2015 are featured – “Slough of Despond” is a brilliant merging of blues and jazz musings in a rock context, but completely original in every way. Where Words Do Not Reachclocks in at around 80 minutes; that’s a lot of music to absorb, but surely worth the effort.

Music Street Journal

Oho

Bricolage

Review by Gary Hill
Music Street Journal 
http://www.musicstreetjournal.com/index_cdreviews_display.cfm?id=102766

I was a little hesitant to tackle this disc. The first album from Oho was a bit weird for my tastes. Well, this one is just plain amazing! It’s a great blend of folk and progressive rock that at times calls to mind such acts as Yes, Renaissance and others. It’s actually one of the better discs I’ve heard in a while, and there have been a lot of great discs released in 2010. This has an accompanying DVD that includes interviews and live perfor

Dirty Linen

Positive RatingPositive RatingPositive RatingPositive RatingPositive Rating"Tough lyrical musings backed by challenging music"
From Jeff Lindholm/Dirty Linen #141~May/June 2009

Bricolage presents a retrospective of work recorded by Baltimore progressive-rock group OHO from 1983 to 2007. It's quite an impressive run. Jay Graboski & David Reeve are equal members in an amalgam of guitars, keyboards, saxes, violins, and more, with songs topped off by a revolving cast of forceful female vocalists. There's a lot to appreciate here for fans of dense, technical and swirling progressive rock music bands that aren't afraid to tackle tough lyrical musings backed by challenging music. Throughout the years, OHO's kept a consistent sound and vision, as evident in both the 20-track CD and 12-track DVD. Although the quality of some of the video tracks is a bit rough, the music overall stands up to that of the pros of prog rock.

Expose

"Energized, jubilant & brilliant in many different ways."
From Peter Thelen (editor, Expose') .

"Baltimore based OHO doesn't put out a lot of product, but when they do, they do it right. This is hip, jangly folk-pop with a proggy feel; the compositions are superb, succinct and highly melodic, consisting of song-length ideas worked into intriguing arrangements in a number of styles--energized, jubilant and brilliant in many different ways. The vocalists have commanding and powerful voices; the instrumental arrangements employed are colorful and supportive featuring violin, sax/flute, the P-Funk Horns, acoustic, electric & steel guitars, keys, tin whistle, mandolins, hammer dulcimer, theremin, lush backing vocal harmonies and more. Folky at the core, their sound rocks, clearly born of modern vintage, fresh and vital, and not retro in any way. The 13 main tracks (those new to BRICOLAGE) are supplemented by 7 bonus cuts mostly pulled forward from their 1990 self-titled disc, 2003's UP and THE ORIENCY ANTHOLOGY. The DVD contains 12 songs--videos and live performances culled mostly from material on those earlier discs, though often with different arrangements. In all, BRICOLAGE is a superb entry point and comes highly recommended." (Expose' #36, Fall 2008)

Indiemusic.com

“OHO’s music makes you want to exclaim the band’s very name!  This is intelligent power pop for the new millennium.  Truly innovative, their sound is ‘BIG,’ having elements of pop, folk, celtic, jazz and rock, all with an alternative twist.   Rhythms are alternately flowing and funky and are set beneath daring and creative melodies, excellent instrumentation and fantastic female vocalization, ideally suited for OHO’s tendency to employ minor chords.  Even with their sometimes spooky sound, the feeling is upbeat.  There are also sparkling guitars, grumbling bass and thoughtful lyrics.  UP is an excellent CD.  OHO!”                                                             -Les Reynolds (Indie-Music.com)

Audion UK

“OHO are a highly competent progressive band with hints of King Crimson, Yes, Grobschnitt...a very un-American sound—and like contemporaries Happy the Man, they are inventive, with accents on complex structures, unusual time changes, dynamics and exceptional interplay among the musicians.  The music is so lively, hyperactive even, that it (Vitamin OHO) works really well as an album.”

                                                                                                            -Audion #22, UK