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OCS (Oh Sees) - Memory Of A Cut Off Head album review

Back to the garden for the relentless San Fran heads

OCS - Memory Of A Cut Off Head album artwork

Last August, idiosyncratic San Francisco-based garage band Thee Oh Sees dropped the first word in their name and released Orc, their 19th album since forming in 1997. If Orc was an electric psychedelic monolith, this, their 20th album in those 20 years (and 10th on Castle Face) sees mainstay John Dwyer and long-time collaborator Brigid Dawson reaching back to the acoustic OCS roots, then coating the results in magic mushroom twists and luminescence. Dawson’s opening gambit on the scuttling title track – ‘Oh what a day, I think I lost my body’ – ignites a hallucinogenic feast where The Baron Sleeps And Dreams can start with Heather Lockie’s autumnal strings before its pizzicato carpet is stained with Mikal Cronin’s mariachi brass, then engulfed by electronic bloops. On And On Corridor forges a typical scene in which flutey fibres and Donovan-lite vocals can turn darkly ominous, while The Chopping Block recalls The Man Who Sold The World Bowie, before drowning in a dense violin forest. By Time Tuner, the sound has swelled into a shimmering drone, engorging Dawson’s vocals while highlighting the gamut of moods and textures that propel this bewitching set out of the ordinary.

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!