Ohal Grietzer is your new favourite dream pop composer.
The Israel-born, Brooklyn-based political activist and writer just released her debut LP Acid Park on NYC label Styles Upon Styles. It’s one to get lost in – a tangled pool of hazy, compelling synth compositions with soaring layers of vocals. This vivid, wandering sound is influenced by a wide spectrum of references, including the likes of Fairuz, DJ Screw and Brigitte Fontaine. As Grietzer tells us over email, they are each artists who “let dissonance and harmony, intentionality and spontaneity, kitsch and disruption, coexist in perfect balance.”
These juxtapositions fuel her work as Ohal. Born from balancing a love/hate relationship with song structure, baroque music, and sound art, the feeling created in Acid Park comes from the merging of dichotomies and mixing of contrasts. Following her score of German/Korean film Cancelled Faces, by Iranian director Lior Shamriz, the album sees Ohal finally introvert into her own world. “My focus has always been on my solo work, but there were many years when this was a recluse endeavor,” she explains. “With Acid Park it was such an insular process”.
The insular nature of Ohal’s music could be attributed to her musical upbringing. Though now based in Brooklyn, Grietzer grew up in Ashkelon, Israel, crediting the Andalusian and Middle Eastern music of her childhood to her strong and long lasting interest in composition. “Coming across new music that excited me felt like finding gemstones excavated on a faraway star,” she divulges. “Making music, even in its most insular moments, for me was a pathway to connecting to places and people with whom I felt I shared an imagined language.” Designed as a cyclical listening experience, Acid Park’s tracks grow and fold into one another, communicating this language in an endless labyrinth.
Grietzer’s background has also affected her outlook where politics meets music, having recently collaborated with Brian Eno on an article supporting the cultural boycott of Israel. However, for Ohal, political engagement does not necessarily translate into her music. “For me, it doesn’t have anything to do with being an artist or one’s creative output,” she explains. “We have a social responsibility as human beings to stand in solidarity with any struggle for equality and liberation from oppression.” Whether it’s her celestial vocal force or passionate views on social responsibility, expect to hear more a lot more from Ohal.
Ohal’s Acid Park is out now via Styles Upon Styles