Joel Dwek & Danny Wiser
MICRONESIA: Get It On - Ozeky
Despite questions about the album's quality, the Micronesian teaches us a deeper lesson about how artists should not pay too much attention to the opinion of critics
When this journey to discover the best album we could from every country in the world really started to gather momentum, there was both a legitimate fear that we would not be able to find an album from every country regardless of quality and certainly a fear that finding an album at least one of us liked from every country would be impossible. Whilst we are well on our way to proving the first fear as surmountable as with this album we tick off the 185th country from our list, we finally reached a stumbling block with Micronesia in terms of finding an album from there in which as a bare minimum some positives can be found. We have since fortunately discovered a great Micronesian/Marshallese hip-hop collaboration which we look forward to reviewing, but in the meantime there is the elephant in the room - Ozeky.
I have tossed and turned about how to tackle this review as ultimately our aim here is not to critique nor slate the quality of music from around the world but rather to celebrate and learn about it. It must be said, that the first of Ozeky's albums that I listened to Tongolove2, I found to be absolutely intolerable. The first compliment I must pay Get It On is that for a debut effort it is not only ambitious, but a superior release to his 2015 effort. Now, let's not beat around the bush, the title-track and reggae cover of Marvin Gaye, featuring what sounds like a didgeridoo, is rather terrible but does not overly offend my ears to make me stop listening as I was forced to after several attempts on Tongolove2 where Ozeky single-handledly butchers the genre of reggae that I love so dearly. Another compliment that hopefully does not sound so backhanded, is that Uwa Uwei is a genuinely cromulent track, it doesn't reinvent the wheel but nor is it so overly experimental that Ozeky's lack of overt talent seems jarring.
The truth is, writing a review in which I am honest about how I feel about the music on this album does not serve anyone. It does not serve as therapy for me, frankly I'll need a professional to rid me of that trauma, it does not help you as a reader if I go into great detail explaining why I don't think Ozeky's album are of any quality, and if the man himself is reading this it is merely going to dishearten him from doing what he is passionate about which is far from my intention. Actually, Ozeky if you are reading this, passive aggressive compliments about your music aside, I would like to pay you a legitimate one and it is worthy of more than many musicians will receive for albums I have somewhat enjoyed but failed to be stirred by. It takes a lot of courage to put ones work out on display.Even showing one's creative endeavours to friends and family can be daunting and to put it into the ether inadvertenly becoming the representative for an entire country's music scene, seems incredibly brave. Some might argue that quality control is needed before releasing anything into the world, but frankly that is not what art is about.
Art is about reactions. I am not Ozeky's biggest fan, that's for sure, but that does not mean that his work won't have any supporters who can stand up for it and tell me why it is great. If someone tells me they like his music, whilst I would suggest they get their ears checked, joking aside, I would of course believe them because Ozeky is an artist in the truest sense of the word. Daring, ambitious and courageous enough to throw his hat into the pantheon of released music, hoping that it will find its place. Just because he hasn't quite found it with me does not make him an unworthy candidate to represent Micronesia. Ozeky, though I thoroughly hate your music, I salute you and commend you for leaving a mark on me that runs far deeper than 50% of the musicians I have discovered during this process, for you are a true artist.
“The album’s recording in some respects tells the power of long-lasting friendship, and although the foursome spent time apart throughout the half a century in between, the love for each other and the music can really be felt.”
Joel: This album by Micronesian musician Ozeky is, unfortunately, not very good. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its charms (though I know Danny might argue that even on this, I am wrong), but overall, this album is not on the level of the usual albums we review on here. The general style of the album fits in well with the Sharzy-esque Pacific-pop inflected island reggae, though there are a couple of flourishes that locate the album in a specific place and musical tradition, namely in the song Intro (Chuukese Chant), which uses music from the island of Chuuk, one of the Federated States of Micronesia’s four constituent entities. There’s also a fairly fun cover of the Marvin Gaye classic Let’s Get It On, which, while nowhere near as good as the original, certainly passes the time and entertains nicely. Those are the two stand-out tracks for me, though Nepwin Winingaj is a perfectly fine ballad that I found myself enjoying, and Uwa Uwei is a nice enough tune to drink some rum to.
The rest of the album more or less blurs into one, without much to distinguish one song from the other, and as such it remains mostly unmemorable. Considering that makes up the bulk of the album at 10 songs, it’s a bit of a problem, and as such it is not an album that, as a whole, I can recommend. It is interesting to hear the Chuukese chanting at the start, and as I said before, the Marvin Gaye cover isn’t too shabby, and Ozeky himself has a decent, if unremarkable voice, but there’s not enough good musical content throughout for me to consider the album just about passable, which is a shame, though my biases must be acknowledged here – Pacific island pop and reggae are both genres that I struggle to love at the best of times. However, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are enjoyable songs here, and perhaps if, when listening, you enjoy those, perhaps the melange of other tunes may speak to you more, but as it stands, I find it somewhat below average.
Danny and I live in hope that there is better music from the Federated States of Micronesia that is readily available. If you know of any Micronesian musicians with an album available to listen to, or you are one such musician, please do not hesitate to get in touch at email@example.com.