Ozymandias – Nos Annees Troubles


[Reviewed by Peter Marks]

Two or maybe three times a year – regardless of whether he has anything new out – I shut out the world and listen to Ozymandias’ complete catalog. I was about due to do so again so it was a pleasant surprise to get this from him. For nearly two decades now Christophe Terrettaz has utilized just a piano to chronicle this thing we call life; it is a great gift and a terrible responsibility I imagine. I used to wonder how he did it but I’m fairly certain that wherever he lives in Switzerland there is a room, a place where all his works have been organized and stored. You don’t just sit down and improvise these kinds of pieces. Every note is plotted out, each bar of music painstakingly arranged and then on top of it all you have to play it flawlessly.

Ozymandias over time has become more and more proficiently dexterous in his playing, coupling the circular flourishes of the right hand to the remarkable chord structures he creates with his left. Sometimes he’ll place the high end in the left channel and the low end in the other, so never think that this one does anything strictly by the book. I know it’s tempting to assume so but don’t. It all sounds so pretty on the surface but pick away at it a bit and you start to hear and more importantly feel where he was at when he performed these. If you’re really feeling daring, play along with him. He’s thousands of miles from where I live but the message comes through loud and clear.

‘Nos Annees Troubles’, which translates as ‘Our Troubled Years’ is a record which balances both sadness with the events which shape our world against an indomitable desire to never see such things happen again. There’s no denying that the last decade has been one of the worst in recent history and Ozymandias have been paying attention to it closely. Though you can sort out the more obvious references through song titles like “Fukushima” many of the rest are a bit more ambiguous. “I Miss You” could be directed at anyone and while some would lay claim to “The Bloody Dress” there’s no definitive statement being made there either.

People draw that line in their own way and this is his, at his piano coaxing out incredible beauty to document it all.

Don’t be too alarmed, his love of writing waltzes is still there. That three note basis is a favorite and he plays it better than anyone else I’ve heard. I will not belabor the point that his fan base is small. We’re a loyal bunch, most of us have probably been there from the beginning of his career; silently and solemnly all across this planet we do the same thing when he releases something: we pause in our lives to take it in and express gratitude for the gift we’ve been given. Terrettaz is a humble musician, he’s also notoriously reclusive. You could count his live appearances on one hand; if I had the means I’d see to it that his works were pressed on the highest quality vinyl out there and then issued in a sturdy box set upon which a few words had been placed.

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: look on my works, Ye mighty, and despair”

The sands of time may erase the majesty but in no way do they diminish the legacy. For having now done eleven albums, Ozymandias are no worse for wear from it. It isn’t just a case of simple scales and progressions from him, these records are part of a body of work known by few but eventually felt by all. You can’t not be impressed by the sheer determination nor can one ignore the stunning elegance.

OzymandiasNos Annees Troubles
Digital 2014


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