Diceman Lopez – Obi

Label: Cooking Vinyl

‘And he sang out loud about stuff in your life you might find’. The words could quite reasonably be attributed to Obi frontman and songwriter Damian Katkhuda, as they can the album’s enigmatic star turn, ‘Incredible Jack’. It ain’t nothing in particular Katkhuda sings about, it’s just stuff. What kind of stuff? Just stuff.

Pot-luck, lady-luck, the wheel of fortune, misadventure, chance and serendipity. One night in a casino would aquaint you with all these strange bedfellows, so too would one listen to Obi’s eagerly awaited follow-up to debut mini-album, ‘The Magic Land of Radio.’ The casual, the causal, and the beautiful ignorance of living, it’s an album of simple and unsophisticated questions met by answers of equal uncertainty; the stuff of life indeed.

Performed with the craft of a consummate storyteller, Katkhuda and his vagabond band of minstrels have fashioned end-to-end tales of darkness and light that veer between the skewed (‘Fairground’, ‘Creatures’, ‘Chewing At My Soul’) the serene (‘Movers and Shakers’, ‘Little Things’, ‘Sweetest Silver’) and the wretchedly beautiful (‘Sleep Well Dear Friend’, ‘To Some Folk’). Although Katkhuda is said to have written the greater part of these songs on Southern France, there’s a clearer expanse of European influence, from Russian Folk Song to Spanish Harlem. But with instruments as densely old world as xylophone, madolin, banjo and dobro (?) what do you really expect?

As grounded as the album is in the tradition of the fairground and fortune telling, the only thing that’s really missing is a packet of tarot-cards and XTC’s Andy Partridge and novelist Italo Calvino leading a merry dance of the damned on the front cover. Oddly enoguh, it’s just as liable to remain on the fringes of popular culture too.

A complete and solid return – and far too good for you folks.

share this:
Release: Obi - Diceman Lopez
Review by:
Released: 20 March 2004