- 06 Aug 21
Otherworldly, dystopian debut from Belfast journeymen. Review: Lee Campbell.
Otherish is the reincarnation of the off-beat, 90s Bristol-formed outfit, me. Back in 1997, me were widely quoted by Radiohead as being a major influence during their promo work for their seminal ‘OK Computer’ album. Despite coming together in Bristol, the majority of the four-piece actually hail from Ireland. Three of them – brothers Mark & Paul Bradley and Francis Kane – were all born in the same house in Belfast. Winchester-born George Claridge rounds off the quartet. They are supported by rhythm guitarist David ‘Ludwig’ O’Neill on the album, who also takes the reins on production.
The four musicians have been diving in and out of various projects together for the guts of 30 years. They first appeared in their current Otherish moniker as session players last year on the song ‘Superheroes’, the now-classic Banksy-supported lockdown single by The New Space Finders.
The Celtic roots are peppered throughout the LP from the opener, ‘Uladh’s Dying’ to the gentle closer, ‘Irish Blessings.’ For the lead track, ‘Pyramids of Tir Chonaill’, it is a song inspired by the rugged mountains on these islands. Keyboard player & vocalist Kane grew up in the towering shadow of the iconic Atlantic beauty that is County Donegal’s Mount Errigal. Although the song titles may have an Ulster flavour, the music is otherworldly and on the whole ethereal. The tracks ‘Ghosts’ and the lively ‘Catch a Grip’ may be the exceptions here with echoes of Mike Scott from The Waterboys’ ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ period on the former, sung by O’Neill.
There are more than a few psychedelic shades of classic Pink Floyd and The Beatles Sgt Pepper era on show. ‘For Everyone’, is wistful and mournful, lamenting today’s fragmented society. As bass player & vocalist Claridge sings, “Oh the mystery and wonder, they just can’t be bought.” This nicely segues into ‘The Morning Sun’, bringing some hope and aspirational unity. ‘Dreamers’ continues in the same vein, rounded off with a spacious guitar outro.
‘Dawn, What Planet?’, at just over two minutes, has a fantastically playful groove, whereas ‘Bollards, Oh Well’ and ‘Penguins’ retain a Divine Comedy, tongue-in-cheek type wit. ‘Who Knows’ continues the musical stew with a distinctive, almost disco beat.
For sure, there is an element of celestial loftiness which may be difficult to dial into in parts in this album, but perhaps in 2021 we have never needed to escape and drift off more than ever. Otherish is the album and the band to do just that.