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CD Review
Little Otik's Debut Chronicles: The Restlessness of Cynicism - Little Otik’s Debut Chronicles: The Restlessness of Cynicism

Little Otik's Debut Chronicles: The Restlessness of Cynicism

Little Otik’s Debut Chronicles: The Restlessness of Cynicism
Record Label: self-released
Review by Dan Vierck
February 2013

Little Otik’s debut album, Startled by his Own Tail, is a dark, immaculately produced, intelligent and articulate journey into the wretched, withered – but still beating – heart of cynicism. First described to me by the author as a Waits-ian country album, the collection has a much wider soundscape and is clearly less of a mash-up experiment and more the realization of something that’s otherwise been pent up, congealing for years.

Track to track, the album leans heavy on layered guitars – acoustic next to slide or thrice-reverbed electric. Violins, saws, and accordions also show up. The drums, when they’re there, are as toneful as they are percussive and usually toward the back of the mix. The record has an unassuming candor that betrays its density. The general sound also betrays the effort behind the writing, arrangement and production. This album was largely one person start to finish – no band mates, no real studio, no over-the-shoulder production assistants – which is a level of long-term intellectual and physical energy that is also at odds with the general sense of ease throughout.

Lyrically, Little Otik spends much of the album searching. On “Vagina Eyes,” the narrator is walking the city looking for his sweetheart, “under the starless city sky.” When he does find her, she is “on her baby daddy’s arm.”

The lyrics of “Every Other Door” tell the story of a failed relationship, with the person left behind wondering about the fate of the person who disappeared, thinking about life in terms of opportunities and choices, and how restlessness and disorder led their lover away and (most likely) to an early grave.

The album opener, “Not a Light for Miles” is as cheerful as it sounds, and best epitomizes Startled by his Own Tail’s thematic center. The song has its narrator naked to the universe, laying in a field, repeating to himself, “There’s not a light for miles.” The narrator is weary. He wants to escape the light because the light, in every other instance, has been a tease.

The songs are distrustful, contemptuous, and pessimistic, but this album is not without life-affirming qualities. These songs have been birthed, nurtured, and brought to fruition by someone who believes wholeheartedly in their value and the absolute necessity of their existence; by someone who believes that the intellectual and physical energy spent living in wearisome, tireless cynicism deserves a document. Startled by his Own Tail does not suggest that the search is the answer. Instead it suggests that all we have is the search, and that’s sometimes startling, sometimes terrifying, always undeniable, and most importantly, ever-deserving of our faculties.

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