Few records this year, so far, are as wondrous, pointed and odd as Mary Ocher's The West Against The People. Produced with Faust's Hans Joachim Irmler, there is a dreamy motorik groove that guides some tracks — especially those with percussion duo Your Government — but the album reaches across synth-pop, psych-rock, folk and ambient music with an obsidian glaze.
"To The Light" comes in two forms, a woozy piano version and this synth- and organ-driven rendition that feels trapped under ice. The swirling combination of Ocher's underwater voice manipulation and Your Government's psychedelic polyrhythms come off like The Knife lurking in the grooves of the sole 1968 record from innovative space-rockers The United States Of America.
A filmmaker and documentarian herself, the Moscow-born, Tel Aviv-raised, and Berlin-based musician and multimedia artist often makes her own music videos, but here teams up with Robin Lochmann for what he calls a "rural Gothic vibe, with creepy portraits where something is off, creating a sense of unease as villagers listen to their spiritual guide."
The video was shot in Ireland and by the German-Polish border over December and January, and, Ocher tells NPR, was inspired by The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari.
We've been meeting up with Frank [Nagel] and Robin [Lochmann] a few times discussing the concept. The initial idea was very different — we were discussing an animated video, very much inspired by early German expressionist cinema (and The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, in particular, which was an idea thrown into the mix when King Khan and I were listening to the early recordings of the album). Then we started thinking of something entirely different, still very expressive and horror-inspired, but shot on location.
Frank suggested contacting Maria, a stilt artist and costume designer living in the countryside in a gorgeous area by a chapel two hours away from Berlin — she was the missing element. We've visited the area on a brief location hunt and a month later, during one of the coldest days of the year, set out with a team of 10 people and shot the video in a day (with the help of several locals, and additional footage shot by Robin in Ireland). It's been incredible working with the team, Robin's own work is extremely inspiring, it's witty and wonderfully twisted.
The West Against The People is out now on Klangbad (iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp).