Posts Tagged ‘Maja Osojnik’

Mamka Records – MAM01 – 1st November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Language becomes sound, and sound becomes language. Out of the fragmentary, the density is weaved. From the depths of the fragile, the whole is born. Time structures are questioned and assembled through loops. Field recording from Mexico meet Osojnik’s singing. Spoken language turn into melodies, whole noise turns into bittersweet rancheras.’ The words from the text – more of a short essay – which accompanies this release resonate: as a long-time student and practitioner of cut-up methodologies, I’m a firm believer in the unusual power of the fragmentary, the capacity for those broken, ruptured pieces of discontinuity to unlock experiences and emotions direct approaches to narrative and the channelling of experience cannot. similarly, I’ve long maintained that the language of sound has the capacity to transcend the language of words, to touch deep and difficult parts of the soul and the psyche irrespective of the tongue or tongues in the listener’s ken.

And so it is that the first release on Mamka records, the label established by Maja Osojnik – whose work I’ve not only covered previously but greatly admire – is something really quite special. My download arrives – personally addressed, handwritten, stamped, embellished – all the way from Vienna, in an envelope 7” square and therefore resembling a 7” single, accompanied by a six-sided press release packed with words far more engaging than the usual hyperbole. There’s also a numbered cut-vinyl print, 7” square included in the package, and it all adds up to a multisensory experience – sonic, tactile, visual – which above all conveys a real sense of commitment, a passion, to making something tangible, something that’s not ephemeral or disposable, but something that matters. The medium is the message, and Maja has found a way – labour-intensive as it is – which goes beyond the medium of the audio release to create… art. The same approach applies to the ‘commercial’ release, a 7” available in a super-small run of 150 copes, only 120 of which are available for public consumption. But better target a small, passionate niche than a large indifferent mainstream if art is your pursuit.

Finding a way to render digital media tactile, visual, and above all, personal, in giving the digital listener a large portion of the vinyl experience, Maja is quite possibly breaking new ground, or at least standing at the forefront of something new. For me, it’s less about nostalgia and more about recovering some of what’s been lost with the demise of physical media.

Said release finds Maja performing with Rdeča Raketa (together with Matija Schellander, she’s integral to the duo who go by the name of Rdeča Raketa) and author Natascha Gangl to deliver a brace of tracks – very much a replication of the classic 7” A and B sides.

‘Chicken’ opens with a frenzy of analogue synth noise. It simmers to a grating buzz and pulsating electro beat before Maja barrels in with a deep-throated monotone with a barrage of lyrics about a chicken in her heart which bleeds and bleeds, and while clucking electronic bleeps twitter and bleep here, there, and everywhere. It’s weird, it’s noisy, it bumps and thrums, but still has an off-kilter pop sensibility partially submerged in the layers of noise and oddness.

‘Die Toten’ (that’s ‘the dead’ in translation) is rather less accessible, but no less intriguing, engaging, or odd, and in fact, introduces a new level of strangeness to proceedings. It’s low, slow, lugubrious.

Simultaneously weird and wonderful, ‘Chicken’ is everything you want – and need – by way of an introduction to partially-accessible, highly idiosyncratic, and extremely engaging weird shit.

AA

Natasha Gangl & Rdeča Raketa – Chicken

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Rock is Hell / UNrecords – RIP 66 / unrec11 – February 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

 

Maja Osojnik is an angry woman. A woman on the edge. A woman with inner strength. After 14 band albums, her first solo outing is a highly charged work, heavy with stark emotions and raw catharsis.

‘Tell me, what do you want me to be?’ she asks in an opium monotone on ‘Tell Me’. Slowly, her offers become more desperate and pained, her multiple voices speaking simultaneously before she slams it all down on the table, unable to maintain her decorum any further: ‘Ill become… all the images you want / so you can walk on me / sleep in me / so you can throw all your shit on me / Tell me, what the fuck do you want me to be?’ It’s chilling in its directness, its apparent lack of artistic distance.

‘Let Them Grow’ is one of those albums that hits like a punch to the solar plexus. It’s impossible not to laud the artist for her openness, her ability to convey so many painful emotions – but at the same time, it’s deeply uncomfortable. Listen, people who use terms like ‘TMI’ are, in the main, uncomfortable because they don’t like to face brutal truths, particularly those belonging to other people. On ‘Let Them Grow’, Osojnick pays no regard to these emotionally closed or stunted types and simply lays it all out there, telling it like it is, spilling her guts because she has no other choice. This isn’t simply music, this is pure art and the very definition of catharsis. Let Them Grow is a work of exorcism, of expulsion.

If you hadn’t already figured, this is a challenging work. ‘Condition’ is a full-tilt rant against a backdrop which amalgamates industrial noise and tribal beats. ‘Stick it up your ass… Come out, you rotten cocksucker, here’s your fucking POP SONG’ she hollers bitterly. And she fucking means it: this isn’t mere petulance, but a middle finger to an establishment and a wider world that’s failed and ultimately fucked up- and which doesn’t value the arts and doesn’t recognise the value of art. It’s a shame, because this is art.

It’s not just the music: I received the CD in its gatefold card sleeve enveloped within a four-leaf pamphlet type wrapper, accompanied by a sticker and five postcards of the artist beautifully shot by Rania Moslam in a range of striking poses. The whole package was in turn wrapped in a parchment paper bag. It’s about the artefact, the attention to detail, the building of suspense and expectation while gaining access to the disc itself, which, in turn, does not disappoint. This is not merely an album. It’s a grand gesture.

From the most subtle, delicate pieces, led by softly-fingered piano, she slowly drags out every sinew of anguish, draws on every drop of pain and presents real emotion. Emotion that can’t be faked.

Brooding instrumental passages offer moments of respite, but then there are sections of growling industrial noise, dark and sinister, grinding and crushing, which are nothing short of devastating. Taut, tense and from the heart, Let Them Grow sees Maja Osojnick present an album that is unparalleled in its sincerity and astounding in its emotional and musical power.

Maja Osojnik

Maja Osojnik Online