Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Wino & Conny Ochs - Heavy Kingdom
“Hi everyone I’m Penfold. Welcome to Penfold’s Wildlife Adventures. In today’s episode you’ll follow along as I try to observe the legendary Wino and his latest musical accomplice Conny Ochs in their natural environment, the Heavy Kingdom. That’s right friends! I’m travelling deep into the heart of the Heavy Kingdom, and I don’t know what I’ll find once I get there. All I know for certain is that I have to go. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity! Join me won’t you?”
“Welcome back friends. My crew and I touched down at an airport near the outskirts of the Heavy Kingdom about an hour ago. Once we retrieved our camera equipment from the tarmac we passed through customs and met up with our guide. His name was Gunther, and boy did he ever look the part! He was dressed in all black from head to toe. Black shoes, black denim jeans, thick black belt with an enormous silver animal skull buckle, worn black leather vest over worn black t-shirt. Couple that with his unkempt hair, multiple piercings and omnipresent sneer. This was obviously one heavy dude. Nobody messed with Gunther.”
“We drove in Gunther’s vehicle, which to my estimation was more like a tank, through the Kingdom’s treacherous landscape. Navigating several deep ravines filled with enormous boulders fallen from the towering mountains looming overhead was rather intimidating. Thankfully, we eventually cleared the mountain range and emerged into an expansive savannah. Everyone took out their cameras when we noticed several herds of large animals grazing in the distance. If we were not on such a tight schedule I would have asked Gunther to stop his half-track. It’s too bad, but the photos turned out great!”
“A short time later the sun began to disappear below the horizon. As the day turned to night, Gunther pointed out lights emerging from the darkness far out in front of us. He informed us that those lights came from the capital city of the Heavy Kingdom. I couldn’t believe it. We were almost there! Sure enough, as we got closer to our destination the lights got brighter and brighter. More numerous too. When we were still several miles away I could easily make out the gigantic ring of skyscrapers that effectively formed the capital city’s border. Passing beneath these sky-conquering structures we entered into a virtual labyrinth of streets and alleyways.”
“Thank goodness for Gunther. Left to my own devices I would never have been able to find my way around this bustling city. Fifteen minutes later our guide stopped the vehicle and pointed to his right. I turned in my seat to see a small building sitting between two skyscrapers. The front of the building was unadorned except for a neon sign indicating the door was open. I thought Gunther was kidding me, but he insisted that the men we were looking for would be inside. Trusting our guide my crew and I exited the vehicle and entered the building. Sure enough, there on a slightly elevated stage were two men with guitars in hand standing in front of some speaker cabinets. Could it be? Yes! Yes it was! It was Wino and Conny Ochs!”
Good day waveriders. Truly, I mean that. This is a good day. Scratch that. This is a great day! What fills me with such positivity? Simply this. I’ve listened to the stunning new Wino & Conny Ochs album Heavy Kingdom. Stunning might not be a strong enough descriptor in this case. I’m really not interested in mincing words right now. Heavy Kingdom is firmly planted in my list of the best albums of the year, and it’s staying there. Allow me to persuade you as to why you should all feel this way too.
The genesis of Heavy Kingdom occurred back in 2010. That was when Conny Ochs opened up for Wino on his solo acoustic tour in support of Adrift, his latest album. As the story goes, the two artists immediately found musical kinship and by the end of the tour they were performing with each other onstage. I suppose I would call that a pretty good indicator for future collaboration. Not wasting any time the two recorded an album of material near the end of the tour entitled Labour Of Love. Honestly, I had no idea about this album until I had done some research for this writeup. Fast forward to 2012 and we have Heavy Kingdom.
Allow me to reinforce my position. Heavy Kingdom is a magnificent album! These two musicians have put their heart and soul down on each of these eleven songs. Conny Ochs’ soulful, haunting vocals perfectly complement Wino’s gruff, weathered voice when he is singing lead (and vice versa). The only other instrumentation on these tracks is their guitars. That’s it. No bass. No drums. No strings. It’s just two guys with their guitars laying down some serious music. Perhaps it is due to this simplicity that these songs sound so incredibly honest. They’re beautiful. They’re moving. They’re heavy as all get out! You can ask me to pick a favorite out of the bunch but you’re wasting your breath. I’m telling you it can’t be done. Different songs offer different observations and provoke different emotions. One day I’ll favor a song like “Heavy Kingdom”. The next I’ll favor “Dark Ravine”. The point is that every song on this album is a winner. It’s true. I watched the entire ribbon ceremony online.
Waveriders you have to hear this album! If you’re a follower of Wino or Conny Ochs this is a mandatory listen. If you are a fan of honest musical expression, pick up a copy of Heavy Kingdom immediately. While I can’t make the claim that this music will change your life, I can promise that it will definitely alter your listening habits. Whatever you are listening to now will have to make room for Heavy Kingdom. My apologies go out to those albums that fall by the wayside.