Things are the way they should be if you just let them be. Playing in the background from an old-school CD-player on a summer’s noon, performing the soundtrack to a heatstroke at a barbecue party. Especially on the latter occasion – as experienced on the opening night of Tartu Music Week – it is possible to fall into their sound with interest and pleasure, it is quite charming – this contrast between the sadness of the songs and the coy gypsy eyes of the musicians. It’s as if Odd Hugo had been invited to someone’s funeral that was cancelled at the last minute, but they have decided to play nonetheless.
But as soon as I start thinking about Odd Hugo’s music, I come across honesty and authenticity and they stand on my way as stubbornly as a sheriff’s horse. And it doesn’t happen often, because I have come to terms with the fact that I care (sonically) more about the act, hybridity and elegant lies than honesty and authenticity – if I believe in the absolute purity of the last two in the first place. The same applies to the Americana: I own the Anthology of American Folk Music by Harry Smith, but I still listen to Yacht rock.
And hence the hesitation – I sense that Odd Hugo is striving to sound honest and authentic, but I hear Yacht rock rather than the Wild West or the Appalachians (the changes of tempo, references to jazz and prog rock, many songs in one…) If I think they are playing, I feel that I misinterpret them for my own gain. If I think they are taking this thing seriously, I enjoy this album less than it deserves.
But I can just think of something else, too. I can think of “David Axelrod!” when I listen to “Do I Offend You”, or of Jandek and Nice Cave’s RnB duet in a Kusturica film when listening to “A Song For Ashesc”, or even the Balkan sound of horns which seem to give in to the act, the hybridity and the elegant lie after all. Or I could simply not emphasise what rocks me, the egoistic listener, in my own world, I could accept Odd Hugo as it is. In other words I just let them be.
However, the mischievous part in me still longs for some deviance in this idyll. Lock them up in Wader’s office together with Barthol Lo Mejor – perhaps a new unapologetic, tasteless and dancefloor packing hi-nrg-opus will be born by the time it dawns?