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Oho — Ahora!
(Bandcamp Ohomusic OM072, 2022, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-11-10

Ahora! Cover art

The Baltimore-based band Oho has existed in one form or another, off and on, since 1973 or thereabouts. Guitarist and singer Jay Graboski has been there from almost the beginning, when the band, as a five-piece, recorded their debut LP Okinawa in 1974. Over the years, the band’s style has been all over the musical map, from psychedelic to progressive rock to to experimental to folky Celtic pop styles, informed by jazz, chamber rock, and much more, to the point where it’s difficult to find many other bands to compare them to. Through all the years, members have come and gone — the original three for which the band was named (Mark O’Connor, Steve Heck, and Joe O’Sullivan) are now long gone — such that by the band’s self-titled Oho album in 1990, Graboski was the only remaining original member, guiding the band through the last 32 years. Today, the band has coalesced around the core trio of Graboski, drummer, percussionist and singer David Reeve, and keyboardist and singer Ray Jozwiak, this time out with guest players David Hughes (bass), Sue πce (violin), Bill Pratt (vocals, additional keyboards, engineering), and Ty Ford (narration). Yep, there is narration at the beginning of all three tracks, but fortunately not a lot of it. The tracks are lengthy progressive rock epics, each clocking in at around ten minutes or longer, simply titled “Ahora” parts 1, 2 and 3. Much of the guitar work is acoustic, the keyboards include piano, synth, accordion, and more, and the singing that promptly commences after the initial two minutes of narration is mighty powerful, with some great harmonies supporting. One will have a tough time identifying whatever influences are coming to bear on the band’s current sound, other than everything that Oho has ever done before, which is impressive in abundance. The three parts flow together almost seamlessly, only indicated by by the brief re-appearance of the narrator. Part 2 at, over fourteen minutes, has some sections that may remind an astute listener of elements of classic early-70s King Crimson, but as soon as one hears the evidence, everything changes to “What was I thinking?” By the time one reaches the 36-minute conclusion of Ahora!, it’s clear that this is one unique journey, previously untravelled. As it should be!

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Oho

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