A film about Northwest hip-hop from 2017
Seattle musician Sol was doing a live chat. He shared his insight that the effort of making an album is one’s attempt at achieving a masterpiece.
By way of follow-up, I asked him if any recent local records lived up to his definition: He barely hesitated in saying The Woods, a new thirteen-song album entirely written, produced, and performed by Otieno Terry. Not long after, we ran into Sol again at the launch party, held in November in Belltown at J. Moore’s old space. With lights and props, the room was magically transformed into a gathering on a forest floor.
In the weeks since I’ve been listening to The Woods and this is most certainly an album worth your time. The summertime crush of “Honesty” is a standout, evocative of sitting in the park and riding your bike on endless blue sky days. The electrifying, playful final 30 seconds of “Jaguar Stupid” leaves me in such a great mood I always rewind and play this song again.
Overall, the production is luxurious and tactile: you feel the physical thump of the drums and the bass notes. It’s clearly a record intended to be heard on headphones, connected to your intimate smartphone. More than once, the music is interrupted by the buzz of an incoming phone call, which causes you to stop and pull your phone from your pocket. It’s an effective magic trick, only slightly less successful when listening on a home stereo system or your car. What I love so much about “The Woods” is that it takes you on a journey, and Otieno is a man of so many talents and singing styles that you look forward to where the next track might take you, and it’s rarely where you expect. There’s also room for field songs like closer “Ashé.”
Congratulations on your masterpiece, Otieno.