WINO AND CONNY OCHS
"Freedom Conspiracy"

(Exile on Mainstream)

01. Drain
02. Sound of Blue
03. Foundation Chaos
04. Crystal Madonna
05. Shards
06. Time Out Blackout
07. Timeless Spirit
08. Freedom Conspiracy
09. Dirt Floor
10. Heavy Heart
11. Forever Gone
12. Invisible Bullets
13. The Great Destroyer

RATING: 8.5/10

It was no fluke doom-legend Scott "Wino" Weinrich and German troubadour Conny Ochs came together a few years ago. What began as tour mates immediately matured into a thing of beauty, a collaborative stroke of genius between two men who "get" one another enough to push the boundaries of acoustic rock.

Wino and Ochs wield their acoustic guitars and sundry vocal pitches in protest of the sorry state of world affairs, being the metal-rooted Guthrie and Phil Ochs revisionists they are. Doom folkies, as it were. Their second album, "Freedom Conspiracy", is, according to the duo, "…about losing and finding belief, and fighting for it." Wino states, "Shit's changin' fast. With war on every corner, political theatre becoming increasingly more offensive, and Big Brother and the Globalists intensifying their slow takeover, we offer sounds and vibrations of love, death, happiness and pain! With this music and verse we hope the songs will inspire and uplift, and hopefully unite our searching spirits."

One can easily sink into the breezy acoustic lines and the plinking slide notes of the opening number "Drain" as Wino and Ochs whirl a floating sprawl picked up by the more rock-driven "Sound of Blue". The organic gel of these two artists seems preordained as their complimentary high and low vocal pitches and thrumming acoustic glides blaze amidst such thought-provoking lyrics as "What color is the sound of a fallen tear?"

The uppity "Foundation Chaos" rolls with angst speared by up-and-down chord rolls, fuzz plugs and a twittering synth, while the contrasting, elegiac "Crystal Madonna" barely stays out of the melancholic ruts it treads.

The dusty and freewheeling "Shards" introduces a full drum beat (versus the opaque whumps found in "Drain") and tambourine to stamp down the straggly lines from Wino and Ochs, who are perfectly capable of creating tempo without them. With a doom base rumbling beneath the sooty blues slides, "Shards" is one of the richest songs on "Freedom Conspiracy". Then a pulled-back snare march gives the infectious "Time Out Blackout" a thicker pulse. Later in the album, the supplement of a full drum beat, bass guitar and electric distortion gives the acoustic-led "Heavy Heart" an occupied rock sound, by consequence making it the most accessible track on the album.

Wino and Ochs unify their vocals along with a punchy piano line matching the roughneck snarl of their riffs on "Timeless Spirit". Smartly, the duo lightens things up with the wistful title track, which means, according to the artists, companionship and loyalty. The hippie-idealized "Dirt Floor" rings like a merge between Seals & Crofts and Cat Stevens, now known as Yusef Islam. Close to the album's finish, the wailing electric guitar on "Invisible Bullets" jacks an already intense set of acoustic lines before Wino and Conny Ochs stroll their album to close with the subdued balladry of "The Great Destroyer".

Hipsters and metalheads can both find something of value in "Freedom Conspiracy", the mark not of a sophomore effort, but a continuing evolution between two clever artists comfortable inside their own stripped-down world.

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