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OCS - Memory Of A Cut Off Head album review

Oh, see what he just did there?

Cover art for OCS - Memory Of A Cut Off Head album

The second of two albums released in rapid succession by prolific San Francisco musician John Dwyer, it’s also the 20th of his 20-year career.

Most of them are noisy, energetic affairs released under the Oh Sees moniker, but he’s turned down the volume for this mellow offering and reached back a decade to revive the OCS name. He’s also linked up again with Brigid Dawson, whose voice is a foil for some of the darker currents that lurk below the folksy veneer of acoustic guitars and string arrangements.

He may have swapped his garage for a more pastoral setting, but he’s taken his drugs with him. The surrealistic whimsy of the opening title track is regularly disrupted by sudden rhythm changes, and The Baron Sleeps And Dreams is disturbingly psychedelic.

As a stand-alone album, it’s a trip. Where it fits in Dwyer’s canon is another kettle of bananas entirely.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.