At Musical Moron HQ, one thing that never fails to fascinate us is the relationship between music and movies. We wrote a piece not long ago about how music is used to accentuate the work of director Cameron Crowe. For this reason, when this month's Uncharted Territory album first came across our desk, the concept certainly piqued our interest. Paul K, one of the creative forces behind the band Glitch Code who received acclaim for their 2016 album Gifted_Damaged, attempts to go against the grain with solo release Omertà. Released in January, the album endeavours to compose a score for a film that does not yet exist – trying to utilise the power of the music to convey the story to the listener. Paul K has then, through a series of YouTube videos, expanded on his vision – giving the listener further insight into the inspiration for his work.
The concept of Omertà, for those of you unfamiliar with the work of Mario Puzo, is a code of silence which apparently exists within the criminal fraternity – a redressed honour amongst thieves, if you will. This knowledge should give you some indication of the type of movie that Paul K is hinting at as he weaves a gloomy tale of secrets, intrigue, absolution and redemption cast beneath murky winter skies.
The album begins with title track Omertà, an ominous track punctuated by distorted voices – inner monologues and words unspoken. Long Way From Home is a track of perpetual motion, a restless melody reaching for the horizon with the overbearing piano a constant companion in the rear view mirror. The consuming, cleansing flames lap through Ashes In The Snow as a drawn out warbling guitar, set against a dark cello backdrop of winter. The hypnotic embers juxtaposed against the cold, lonely wilderness. I Fideli draws on religious sounds and imagery for a track that draws parallels between devotion to a nefarious cause and faithfulness to a deity. Broken introduces a brief trumpet interlude that is both surprising and heart-breaking on a track of lost hope and capitulation. The album ends where it began, a reprise of Omertà is lighter and more imbued with acceptance in its high notes – the tangled words of racking guilt less pronounced but noticeably still there.
For a concept akin to the sacrilegious ritual of pouring milk and then adding cereal (no, just no), Omertà's modus operandi is surprisingly effective. Paul K effortlessly balances more traditional soundtrack instruments such as the exquisite and nearly ever-present cello with more modern and electronic arrangements. In particular, the sounds generated by the EBow are integral to maintain the atmosphere and tension of the record, not dissimilar to the work done by John Murphy on the soundtrack to the 2006 incarnation of Miami Vice.
There is no doubt that Paul K will have had a specific story in mind when fashioning the record, however the beauty is that he has credited the listener with enough creative licence to form elements of the tale themselves. The result is the ultimate exercise in subtext. Where a film-maker would have the option to convey mood and sentiment through a subtle glance or tone of voice, Paul K relies entirely on the music. Omerta is an album constructed with loving precision that, in its most luminescent moments, acts as a mesmeric zoetrope for your imagination.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Paul keeps his mouth shut
Weaves an instrumental tale
Of men and their Gods
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