OZMA’s seventh studio album Hyperlapse is released by BERTHOLD records on February 7th 2020.
The album is a musical journey combining contemporary jazz, rock, electronic and cinematic music. It is also a travelogue. Each of the ten tracks is dedicated to a city in which the band played during their 2018 world tour. The album is “a confrontation with reality, enriched by human encounters and cultural shocks,” explains Stéphane Scharlé, band leader and drummer, who composed all the pieces. The other quintet members are Julien Soro on saxophone and keyboards, Édouard Séro-Guillaume on bass and keyboards, Tam de Villiers on guitar, and Guillaume Nuss on trombone and effects.
“We like to tell ourselves stories, it helps us structure our song narratives,” says Scharlé, who studied jazz at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg. “Then we like to tell those stories through our music to other people. I’m sure you can enjoy the track Clay Army on its own. But when I say it’s about the immense terracotta army in Xi’an, China, it brings people even closer to the music and to what we saw there.”
On tour, the quintet experienced a world of splendour, aberration, generosity and injustice. “We saw pollution everywhere particularly in the newly rich countries,” says the composer, “a humanity heading for ruin if we don’t make a radical re-start.” Tuktuk Madness recalls the tectonics of rickshaws in Mumbai. Infinite Sadness is a requiem for a disintegrating world seen in Jakarta. “But it’s paradoxical,” admits Scharlé, “being a musician and taking flights to do concerts makes me part of this nonsense.”
Some of the tracks have more lyrical themes. Entre Chien et Loup recalls a changing twilight sky during a train journey in Purwokerto, Indonesia. A Leila is a moving tribute to the Paris based Franco-Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui, victim of the Al Qaeda claimed Ouagadougou attacks. “OZMA created a photo-concert on her work and unveiled this song in front of her friends and family, it was a very strong moment.”
One Night in Bulawayo “was written after an unbelievable night of a coup d’état in Zimbabwe.”
Hyperlapse, the second song on the album, is homage to an “insane” club-night in Hamburg as well as to the energy felt in the city. The term Hyperlapse, also the album title, refers to the film technique using time lapse with movement, in which the same subject is filmed from different angles. The dynamic process creates a disturbing, organic impression of real time acceleration. “It made sense to me,” says Scharlé. “Each song tells its own story, stops and captures a moment and yet all together they create a unique narrative. I also like the energy and strength of the word.” The name was suggested by the film director Juliette Ulrich who accompanied and filmed the quintet on its year long tour. The band also creates side-projects including movie- and photo-concerts (see www.lacompagnietangram.fr).
The Hyperlapse album cover is a disturbing, dystopic image by the graphic designer Matthieu Leclerc. It shows a bending skyline in which carefree paddlists sail towards the abyss against the backdrop of iconic buildings from cities in which the band has played. The band name OZMA is also of significance. “OZMA was a NASA space project,” explains Scharlé. “The idea was to send sounds into the universe and then wait patiently for a response; to look for extraterrestrial life by sending out music and expecting feedback. We liked the concept.”
“My parents listened a lot Woodstock rock, classical music and jazz from the John Coltrane nebula when I was younger,” recalls the composer. “It really impacted me strongly. Then I played in metal bands before moving later to jazz. We are a generation that has grown up listening to many different music styles.”
The result in this new album is a mesmerising, complex body of work, played by five superb musicians, who will not have to wait long for deserved accolade.