Otti Albietz, whose sophomore album Bubby Tone II will be released by BBE Music on 8th April 2013 is best described as a modern day minstrel. It was when strolling through the streets of his hometown of Malaga, in Spain, that Otti first found inspiration for his songs. Whether epic, intimate or filled with tragedy, Otti’s songs are infused with beauty, emotion and heartache. Further inspiration came from Otti’s travels through Spain, Morocco and mainland Europe with his family. During his travails and adventures, Ottis met larger than life, colorful characters. He came across everyone from bohemians to smugglers. Having listening to their tales, Otti told their story through the medium of song. Using shipyards, scrapyards, rivers and motorways as backdrop for these stories, Otti’s talent as a storyteller brings their recollections to life. Humor, hurt, heartache, farce and tragi-comedy, Otti Albietz’s song have all these things and much more. However, Otti Albietz is much more that a songwriter. He’s part-poet, philosopher, minstrel and storyteller. It was as if he was destined to become singer, songwriter and musician. To make that happen, Otti Albietz had to take one more journey.

After traveling the length and breadth of European highways, Otti Albietz decided to head to England, where he would turn his dream of becoming a musician into reality. This was eight years ago, in 2005. Between 2005 and 2010, Otti was a songwriter and lead vocalist in a number of bands. Then in 2010, Otti decided that the time was right to release music under his own name. To do this, Otti needed a band. However, this was no ordinary band. Quite the opposite. Instead, it was a constantly evolving cast of musicians. This included experimental flautist Geoff Leigh who previously, has worked with Henry Cow, Thad Jones of the Phil Collins 3, musician and producer Harvey Summers and drummers Benno Schlachter and Sacha Trochet. Then there was Otti’s girlfriend, the soprano Anna Graebe. Working with such an eclectic group of musicians must have inspired Otti, because in January 2011, he would release his debut album, One.

Just six years after arriving in England, Otti Albietz released his self-produced debut album One, in January 201. One was released on Big Village Records. It was an intense and powerful album, rich in imagery and filled with gritty realism. On One’s release, it was well received by critics and sold well. Following the success of One, Otti embarked on a tour of central-Europe. Basel, Hamburg and Mullhouse were stopovers on Otti’s European tour. He was now a real-life wandering minstrel, who in just six short years, was making a living as a singer, songwriter and musician. Now just over two years later, Otti Albietz will be releasing the followup to One,  Bubby Tone II.

Otti Albietz’s sophomore album is Bubby Tone II, Bubby Tone II, which will be released on BBE Music on 4th April 2013. Producing Bubby Tone II is Harvey Summers, who previously, has worked with Danny Thompson, Mumm Ra, Paul McCartney and John Pearson. Recording took place at Harvey Summers’ Broadoak Studios, in East Sussex. The material for Bubby Tone II is part of a large body of material that Otti Albietz has recently written. Indeed, he has so much material written, that there’s enough for much of his third album. Twelve of these songs feature on Bubby Tone II, which I’ll tell you about.

Bubby Tone II is best described as an acoustic album, that’s the latest in a new generation of singer-songwriters. On  Bubby Tone II, twelve understated arrangements provide the backdrop for Otti Albietz’s vocals. It’s as if producer Harvey Summers has decided to pare back each of the arrangements. Sparse with nothing superfluous. There’s no lush strings or horns on Bubby Tone II. Instead, Bubby Tone II is best described as lo-fi. Mostly, it’s just Otti and his trusty acoustic guitar. Part-troubadour, part-minstrel, Otti becomes a skilled storyteller, who paints evocative pictures rich in imagery and symbolism. The twelve song are personal and intimate. Otti’s performances veer between heartfelt, tender and impassioned, right through to frustrated, emotive and filled with pathos and bravado. Indeed, there’s so much more to Bubby Tone II, as you’ll realise.

Structure Repeats which opens Bubby Tone II, demonstrates this. When the song begins, you can hear each of Otti’s slow, deliberate, chord changes. His vocal is tender and heartfelt, as he delivers the lyrics. Even by now, you realize that Otti is the latest in a long line of singer-songwriters. A more accurately description is troubadour or minstrel. There’s something very intimate and personal about Otti’s music. It’s a very personal performance, as if Otti’s singing just for you. In many ways, it’s like a personal audience with one of music’s hidden secrets, one you’ll hear much more of.

Who Are The Wishful follows on from the opening track. There’s a jazzy influence to the guitar, while the drums add an element of drama. Then when Otti’s vocal enters, it’s as if this is what you’ve been waiting for. Power and passion combine, as Otti’s lyrics probe and question. Sometimes, his vocal becoming a pleading falsetto, as he unleashes torrents of emotion. Throughout the track he constantly probes and asking pleading, Who Are The Wishful?

A melancholy piano sets the scene for If You’re Listening. Sparse, bleak and spacious describes the track. Meanwhile the lyrics are intelligent, pensive and full of imagery. Later, waves of ethereal harmonies enter, adding to the sheer emotion, hurt and heartache that fills Otti’s vocal.

During Time’s Time, Otti’s vocal is choppy, delivered with a sense of urgency. Like the other tracks, the arrangement is understated. Pared back describes the arrangement. That works well. Mostly, it’s just Otti and his trusty guitar. This allows you to focus on Otti’s vocal and his lyrics. They’re intelligent, vivid and sometimes, cryptic and mysterious.

Several tracks on Bubby Tone II give you an insight into Otti Albietz’s personality. The first is The Life We’ve Led So Far. Here, Otti dawns his storyteller’s hat and lays bare his soul. This he does with just his guitar and ethereal harmonies for company. Otti’s vocal grows in emotion, confusion and frustration. Later, torment tinges his voice, while cooing harmonies sooth his weary soul, as this hauntingly beautiful track shares its secrets. From the opening bars of Tell Them I Was Here, there’s a hint of bravado in Otti’s vocal. There’s an air of sadness is his voice, as bravery and bravado are ever-present. You sense that this isn’t the real Otti Albietz. Quite the opposite. He’s much more sensitive, and prone to hurt and heartbreak, whereas here, Otti’s been hurt, but doesn’t want to admit it.

During Lightning Bolts (In Little Ships), Otti paints pictures with music. Whereas an artist uses paints to do so, Otti uses lyrics and his technique. Vivid, with a strong narrative, pictures unfold before your eyes. You can close your eyes and imagine the images Otti is describing. Then later, Otti’s technique changes. His vocal becomes a jazzy scat. This proves just as effective and evocative. It’s as if Otti’s changed from being a landscape artist to an abstract artist. With the same palette of paints, Otti conjurs up a picture that’s just as evocative and vivid.

Amazing Life is one of these songs that’s not unlike a trip on a roller coaster. Although this a trip lasts just three minutes, Otti packs a lot into these three minutes. One minute the lyrics are evocative, descriptive and emotive, then Otti decides to add pathos and humor. Listening to the song, you experience a whole gambit of emotions and thoughts. What makes it even more effective is the understated arrangement, which allows the vocal to take centre-stage, and be the focus of your attention.

While Amazing Life was evocative and emotive, so too is Waking Up The Dead. Otti’s vocal is haunting and troubled, filled with hurt and confusion. He brings life, meaning and emotion to the lyrics, whilst delivering one of his most impassioned performances.

Whereas the previous tracks were just Otti and his guitar, stabs of a jaunty organ and buzzing synths open The Others Are Identical. When they’re combined with Otti’s vocal, they play their part in this broody, moody, dramatic and evocative track.

After the departure in sound and style on the previous track, She’s The Earth sees Otti return to his signature sound. It’s just his driving guitar and melancholy vocal that are at the heart of the track. Percussion is added, giving the arrangement an edgy, almost uncomfortable sound. This adds to the sheer emotion and drama of this track.

Closing Bubby Tone II is The Best Thing Ever (Love Will Repeat). It’s a very different track to anything that’s gone before. Otti’s vocal is half-spoke, and accompanied by subtle birdsong. Then it’s all change. A cacophony of sound effects, drums and percussion combine with a chorus of backing vocals, as Bubby Tone II reaches a dramatic high.

Innovative, groud-breaking, compelling and captivating. That’s just a few words that describe Otti Albietz’s sophomore album Bubby Tone II which will be released by BBE Music on 8th April 2013. It’s very different album from anything that’s been recently released. No wonder. Otti Albietz is very different to other singer-songwriters. He’s part-poet, philosopher, minstrel and storyteller. The music is lo-fi and understated. There’s just Otti and his trusty guitar. There are no lavish arrangements. Instead, it’s a case of less is more. This allows Otti’s vocal to take centre-stage and become the focus of your attention. Indeed, nothing whatsoever gets in the way of Otti Albietz’s vocal and his lyrics. His songs are filled with humor, hurt, heartache, farce and tragi-comedy. Each of the twelve tracks has a strong narrative, and paint vivid pictures in your mind’s eye. Intense, emotive, powerful, moving, rich in imagery and filled with gritty realism describes Bubby Tone II perfectly. Standout Tracks: Structure Repeats, If You’re Listening, Amazing Life and Waking Up The Dead. 


Bubbytone II


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