A progressive return from the London duo...

'Now Is A Long Time' - the second album by London-based electronic rock duo Otzeki - begins with the simple grace of a cats and boots beat, and like Orpheus, the album never looks back from there. Building upon the folksy introspection and acoustic lure of their peculiarly brilliant debut album Binary Childhood, cousins Joel Roberts and Michael Sharp have re-worked their sound on 'Now Is A Long Time' to be an even deeper, fuller immersion into their chthonic and seedy shuffle.

From the first track, the duo let the floodgates open as their swirling electronic swagger swallows the LP whole. The record migrates from the dusty Burial beats of opener ‘Shy Sooo Shy’ to the mesmeric, drifting eastern twang of ‘Sweet Sunshine’, before collapsing into the oneiric summer- time daze of ‘Another Son’, all the while guitarist Sharp’s coaxing vocals float through like a phantom presence.

Otzeki’s roaming sound rolls with a stricter focus than it did on 'Binary Childhood', with songs stitched together by a thick, dark, and consistent sonic palette that paints images of illegal raves in sweltering liminal spaces hosted in the forgotten nooks of the big smoke.  

‘Max Wells-Demon’ is perhaps the album stand-out. A building, tricksy track that tells the tale of two cities. The song’s protagonist is a conflicted Patrick Bateman-like City Boy lost in the edge-lands of the capital, zipping through white lines and weekend-warrioring at clubs before returning to his Square Mile desk for 7am Monday. The whole track is deftly anchored around a commuting, minimal beat that has Sharp rhapsodise over it that it’s ‘a hack for your mental health / it’s your dream house in the country-side’.

‘Familiar Feeling’ provides the album’s chill-out moment that Otzeki executed so well on their debut. The track’s starry, halcyon synths and rat-a-tat-tatting hi hats are refreshing reflection ponds to stare into, with the cosmos glistening behind the face of the gurning narcissist.

While the doubling-down on their electronic side has brought out the best in Otzeki in terms of bangers and a richer, full-bodied sound, there are times where the album misses the acoustic warmth and relative silence of the guitar-led songs of their first album, with the melancholy influences of Joy Division, The Cure, and Throbbing Gristle unfortunately diluted. It means the off- beat magic the duo conjured in Binary Childhood can feel lacking at times – particularly during the second half of this album where some of the awe at the electronic manipulation is lessened.

However, it’s impossible not to see 'Now Is A Long Time' as a strong progression for Otzeki’s total sound, exploring new and exciting territories while fully solidifying others, with enough here to summon the ghost of the London night and awaken its nocturnal dancefloor.

7/10

Words: Robert Davidson

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