Review: Ols ”Widma” [Pagan Records]

Review: Ols ”Widma” [Pagan Records]

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Multi-talented Polish solo artist Anna Maria Oskierko created Ols as an outlet for her haunting and holistic songs. While gentle in delivery, Ols’ ritualistic pagan prose makes for captivating listening, even if non-Polish speakers are largely left in the dark as to the subject matter. Anna composes the music, writes the lyrics, sings and plays all the instruments herself.

New album Widma (Spectres in Polish) makes for a bewitching listening and one in which you grow increasingly spellbound. For those with a memory that stretches back three or four decades, tracks such as “Starucha” have an almost enchanting Enya like feel, infused with mysterious spirits. The visionary vibes extend through into the sultry ”Siostry” which is another simplistic and yet in places stirring Ols offering.

For a more modern day reference point, then Yorkshire’s Darkher clearly invites parallels. To put more meat on the bones – although that may not be the most appropriate of synonyms in this case – Ols is the Polish word for the alder forest growing on swamps and marshes. Myrkur is another obvious comparison although Ols carries less peaks and troughs across the soundscape.

Widma explores autumn, a cold season, and one which often reflects our final journey in the cycle of birth through to death. As the leaves fall from the trees so life drains from us. Despite the inherent darkness that is present, this does remain a very listenable record.

The songs, including the album’s lengthiest piece, “Drzewa dawno zmarly” in turn expose the bewitching beauty of Autumn’s fading forests and mysterious wetlands. While ritualistic in places, the neo-folk tapestry is also woven with some ambient black metal passages, making for an enigmatic album made up of many parts.

Ols’ third album, the first two were Bandcamp releases only. Thanks to the appropriate union with Pagan Records, Ols now have an outlet for their first physical release. It is one that definitely deserves to be heard.

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