Evan Carson – Ocipinski
Sometimes you have to dig deep to find hidden gems – and sometimes they just cross your path by chance. I first read about Evan Carson’s solo debut album “Ocipinski” when Jim Grey of Caligula’s Horse shared ‘Otriad’ on Facebook, which features him on vocals as well as Gleb Kolyadin (Iamthemorning) on piano. In a matter of minutes, I hurried over to Bandcamp and got the album. The song is that good.
And so is the rest of the album created by Carson, percussionist for (among many others) Iamthemorning’s chamber band. Inspired by the legacy of his grandfather Jerzy Ocipinski, who lost his family in an air raid during transport to a Nazi labour camp in World War II Poland as a teenager, made his way through Europe, then joined the Polish Resistance and finally settled down in England with a new name (Carson, of course!), “Ocipinski” takes the listener through an emotional rollercoaster. Despair, hope, anger, loss – all masterfully reflected in the music.
Carson is joined by a select troupe of musicians who all contribute flawlessly to the album – with various instruments such as Zither, Cuatro, Bouzouki and Oud (played by Charlie Cawood), Violin and Viola (Karl James Pestka, ex-Árstíðir), Cello (Graham Coe), Melodeon (Archie Moss) and various flutes (Toby Shaer).
All is held together by Carson’s incredibly varied and haunting drum and percussion work and the intriguing voice of folk singer Georgia Lewis, who makes the album’s story come to life. The result is music that swings in somewhere between progressive rock and folk – full of beautiful melodies that pull you right into the songs and countless details that make you discover new aspects of the songs with every run.
Evan Carson – Shards (click here if the video does not play)
While there is not a weak song on “Ocipinski”, ‘Otriad’ clearly marks the climax of the album. Kolyadin once again outdoes himself, furiously leading us through the song on his piano, supported by Evans’s merciless drumming, while Grey chants his anthem to the hidden heroes of the Polish resistance, who saved countless Jewish lives and did their part to bring down the German reign of terror over Europe. Strings and flutes join in, intertwine with Kolyadins piano runs and it all comes together to an incredibly tight grand finale. Goosebumps galore, an overflow of emotions – and a strong contender for the song of the year. Outstanding composing, writing and musicianship!
“Ocipinski” is a true gem indeed, music from the heart, for the heart. If you happen to stumble across it just now as I did before, please head over to Bandcamp (or the streaming service of your choice), let yourself be carried away by the music and press that purchase button! You won’t regret it.