Aldous Orwell Project
by Johanna J. Bodde


Even if you come across this CD in the middle of a big pile, it will draw you immediately to picking it up. Better said, the cute cows on the cover will lure you to do that! "Child & Holy Cow" and "Moodonna" on the back are paintings by ManWoman. "Cow!" is named after one of the songs, where the cow is a methaphor for freedom. And Aldous Orwell Project got its name from the authors Aldous Huxley ("Brave New World") and George Orwell ("1984"). This is music for the advanced listeners! Acoustic folkrock featuring outspoken political lyrics, mixed with worldfusion jazz.

Sam Masich from Vancouver, Canada is the singer-songwriter of this Aldous Orwell Project, regular readers of this page might know him already from FFM and his collaboration with Michael Friedman. He is an independent musician and filmmaker, who already wrote more than 400 songs, of which about a hundred are played & recorded. He's the ideal co-writer, always wanting to write for other artists. Sam is also one half of a duo with Christine Duncan. As he says: "Songwriting led me to performing and also to producing". He returned to music after years of focusing on his successful "other" career of teaching martial arts.
The album "Cow!" was recorded in San Miguel, Mexico with Mexican, Cuban, Canadian and American jazz musicians. Percussionist/drummer Bobby Kapp for example, played with Dexter Gordon. Sam himself has a slightly hoarse, throaty voice, that I like a lot. His emphatic delivery of the lyrics is just impressive and urges to listen, he also plays various guitars, together with Ken Basman. All tracks got a completely different sound. From just an acoustic guitar, along percussion & piano, a waltz with violin, an uptempo piece ending on something Cuban, the cynical version of a marching band, folk-noire with piano, electric guitar in sturdy folkrock to world-jazz and folk-jazz with the wonderful backing vocals of Glenda Rae, ending with a hidden track of improvised jazz.

The lyrics are about political and social subjects. Very outspoken. Everybody & everything is present: Richard Nixon, JFK, the CIA, God and the Devil, Baghdad, the American Dream, World War 3, Hitler, Stalin, Ghandi plus a few fourletter words. And the album is dedicated to Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore. But it all makes sense and never ends up in ranting, although this CD confirms what I already noticed during my travels in Canada: many Canadians really dislike America, in the meantime they love to tackle "American" subjects and they're probably genuinely concerned. Words in "Pity The American" are -indeed- "Pity the American. Pity all the world." It's hard to just pull a line from the songs, a few I think are great: "There were Indians walking right where I'm walking. Now it's all condos and nightclubs and me" from "The Nuclear Waltz", written according to Sam Masich "on the eve of the US led invasion and occupation of Iraq" and from satirical "The Great Dictator": "Fun loving folk who are a little afraid of losing their house, losing their safety net / Happy to trade a son or two for freedom." I mentioned already that clever methaphor in "Cow" (our freedom Cow): "They say, Hey mister, get that cow out of the way. We're coming through". "Black Bat Wings" is just as good: "I put on my darkest, greyest cloak and slip into my black bat wings / I slide out by a side door to avoid the state police", a while later: "And right below me I see D.C. I'm above a house, I'm above a white house."
Like I said, "Cow!" is for the advanced listeners, who will put the disc in heavy rotation, muuuh...

Written by Johanna J. Bodde, April 2007.

CowBoys (l-r top) Bobby Kapp, Gabriel Hernandez,
Aldous Orwell, Antonio Lozoya, (below) Victor Valasco