Dec 232011

Okular don’t fuck around. When they contacted us asking if we would consider reviewing their debut album, Probiotic, I said yes and suggested they could just give me a download link rather than going to the expense of mailing a physical copy from Norway. They sent me the physical copy anyway. When it arrived, I understood why.

The jewel case includes a 20-page booklet. You’re looking at the front cover above, which by itself is strikingly cool. You open the booklet, and what unfolds are a series of two-page panels of equally eye-catching artwork, with green being the dominant chromatic tone throughout. The first two-page foldout includes band photos and detailed album credits. Each of the remaining two-page panels is devoted to a single song, with lyrics.

I read the lyrics and stared at the accompanying art before listening to a single song. The artwork for each song is symbolically connected to the lyrics, which are a kind of very personal poetry that chart a journey of self-realization and that provide a description of beauty and strength (the kind that matter, not the superficial), both within the self and outside the self in the world. When I use the word “poetry”, I don’t mean to suggest that the words are pretentious or “precious” — they aren’t. But the words are still deeply considered and deeply felt and eloquent.

The very personal nature of the lyrics, the consistency of thought among them from song to song, and the connection between the lyrics and the art are the result of the creative work of a dude named Andreas Aubert, who composed the music, wrote the lyrics, and was involved in developing the design and illustration concepts for the album booklet. And he also sings backing vocals on the songs. And he has an interesting personal blog you can find via this link.

Ah yes, the songs — the music. It’s time to write about that. I’m just taking this in the order of my own experience — I read the lyrics and looked carefully at the booklet first, and then I pressed play. And what I heard was nothing like what I expected. Continue reading »