Genre: Neofolk / Experimental
Spanish based O Paradis has been very prolific as of late with their recent split with Novy Svet for Punch Records titled “Destello de Estrellas en la Frente” and their recent full length album titled “La Boca del Infierno.” Following these two recent releases is the limited edition white vinyl 7” ep “El Juego Negro.” “El Juego Negro” is the debut release of the new French label Autre Que launched by Nathalie and Ian of Heimdallr webzine.
As with previous recent releases, Jeurgen Weber of Novy Svet appears aside Damien of O Paradis as a guest musician on “El Juego Negro.” This dynamic duo offer four experimentally infused folk songs that take O Paradis further down the crooked path of dark folk that began with the duo’s first collaboration titled "Entre Siempre Y Jamas Suben Las Mareas, Duermen Las Ciudades.” Combing elements of folk, rock and experimental music O Paradis deliver a very concentrated dose of dark Mediterranean surrealist folk music that captures elusive elements of numerous dissected genres and reassembles these elements into grandiose songs filled with the monstrous beauty of the artist’s tortured souls.
Side A of El Juego Negro begins with the song “Black Wings.” “Black Wings” features disjointed percussive instrumentation accompanied by the husky vocals of Jeurgen Weber (Novy Svet.) It is hard to describe the music as it does not follow any traditional song style. Imagine dosing a group of middle school children on acid and equipping them with an organ, bass guitar, and found metal percussion instruments. The music on “Black Wings” never degenerates into chaos but rather stutters forth like an Appalachian jug band that drank too much moonshine. The vocals and song structure is reminiscent of Tom Waitts though the song is distinctly O Paradis.
“30 Monedas" is the second song on side A of “El Juego Negro.” "30 Monedas" sees O Paradis return to the seductive Mediterranean flavored folk fusion that has made the band so popular with listeners. The husky vocals and experimental compositional style of “Black Wings” is shelved in favor of a return to more familiar musical terrain. O Paradis pairs rhythmic percussion, drums, bass, flute and electronics in a style reminiscent of “ Destello de Estrellas en la Frente” The music is smooth and sensual and flows gently in rhythmic driven swells that communicate a casual festiveness.
Side B begins with the song “El que no conoce dias.” “El que no conoce dias" retreats from the festive mood of “30 Mondes” and shows the listener a more reflective and melancholy side of O Paradis. Jeurgen sings over the familiar rhythmic percussion, drums and accents of Spanish guitar. The song is lazy and introspective as it flirts with dark themes and reflections upon youth. The music weaves around the lyrics that sound like a half conscious confession made after one too many bottles of red wine on a candle lit night amongst friends. The sensuality of the music and vocals make for a very intimate listening experience as the listener is drawn in by the composition.
The second song on side B lightens up the mood with a fun adulteration of Iggy Pop and David Bowie titled “Funtime.” This is perhaps the most pop oriented song I have ever heard Novy Svet of O Paradis participate in. Melding their trademark acoustic experimentation with pop sensibilities and rock oriented lyricism O Paradis produce a fantastic song that captures the spirit of Bowie and Iggy Pop and forces it through the distorted lens of O Paradis. The resulting music is an upbeat song filled with random percussion, drums, and wavering organ music. The chorus is the most prominently pop element aside from the very rock oriented lyrics that come across as suave and sexy while remaining true to the experimentalist mentality that O Paradis has chosen to embrace as of late.
El Juego Negro is a real gem of an ep. Delivered on heavy white vinyl this ep is very likely to become a coveted collector’s album. All fans of Novy Svet and O Paradis should make every effort possible to secure this ep as it illustrates a very unique passage in the career of these musicians. If you have enjoyed the recent recording of O Paradis and Novy Svet as they have joined forces then this ep will definitely please you. We look forward at Heathen Harvest to covering future releases by the new Autre Que label so keep coming back to stay in touch with this new burgeoning labels activities!