Welcome return here of Maja Osojnik, one of our favourite singer-musician-concept artists, with a brilliant single released on her own Mamka Records label. Chicken / Die Toten (MAMKA RECORDS MAM01) is a sensory overload special, overlaying multiple ideas and sonics elements in the space of about eight minutes…with lyrical contributions from the author Natascha Gangl and musical mayhem from Rdeca Raketa, Maja’s duo with Matija Schellander. Both songs draw inspiration from the visual excess and hallucinogenic maelstrom which Maja associates with Mexico – the ‘Chicken’ song is intended as “a mescaline ride through the desert”, while ‘Die Toten’ wanders through the land of the dead.
There’s something quite alarming about the very upfront mix of this record – it has an incredible presence, though I’m still trying to work out which part is most upfront, whether it’s the intense vocals or the beats, but there’s also plenty of studio malarkey to confuse the senses, such as loops, and very extreme time-stretching methods. At any rate, I personally find it alarming, but the Chicken song is also intended to be humourous, and a comedic strain does emerge eventually after a few plays and the heavy guitar work makes way for some processed electronica stabs resembling super-mutant chicken squawks. The obsessive lyric – “there is a chicken in my heart” – is the sound of one woman trying to purge herself of something pretty deep, whether it’s weak emotional responses or general timidity in the face of life, yet this is one of the boldest and affirmative statements we’ve heard from Maja, one who I also associate with a very compassionate and introverted side 1. She’s always good at dealing with uncomfortable emotions, and this Chicken song stands a chance of exorcising unwanted repressions for even the most faint-hearted of us.
Speaking of exorcising…the ‘Die Toten’ song is intended as “a curse on the stubborn, sleepless dead” and is no less harrowing in its mood and intent. A torrent of words escapes the singer’s mouth as she tries to bring down damnation on every “dead” thought and action that has held her back…she soon starts seeing ghosts everywhere…scarily, she’s not imagining things, and the whole track is ridden with the voices of these ghostly hags and harridans, all of them symbols of systems and agencies in the world (political, social, religious) which exercise the “dead hand” and block humanity’s potential. More than anything, Maja Osojnik just would like us to be aware of what forces are at play around us, and she tries to shine a light in the darkest zones so that we may “stay awake and…perceive”. With its higher verbiage quotient, this Toten may lack the immediacy of the simple Chicken chant, but it’s got the same driven qualities, and the singer’s multi-tracked voices all sound positively desperate and hollow at the same time.
The cover is a hand-made linocut artwork and every print is different; on the label website, there’s an eye-searing video of the all the variant colours overlaid on top of each other, in fine shimmering madness. A must-have; while you’re buying this, be sure to purchase the second catalogue item Mi Corazon (released August 2019). This Chicken item was received 30 October 2018.