Home Hear Eric Anders & Mark O’Bitz Fight Fire With Fire On Contrapasso

Eric Anders & Mark O’Bitz Fight Fire With Fire On Contrapasso

The Americana duo's latest EP is a concept piece that comments on current times.

Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz offer a burning critique of the contemporary American inferno with the darkly dire roots of their latest EP Contrapasso — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

Taking its title from a Latin term in Dante’s Inferno and Purgatorio Contrapasso is the punishment of souls “by a process either resembling or contrasting with the sin itself” — the contemporary Americana duo’s EP confronts an America in which citizens are oppressed by the ridiculously stupid beliefs of a racist minority. Contrapasso’s four songs reflect on the cult of Trumpism and America’s original sin of slavery — two very connected aspects of America’s present and past.

An EP more than six years in the making, Contrapasso comes together at a time when contra-commentary from artists like them is in short supply. Both a concept and a political piece, the Americana in Contrapasso isn’t just in the music. In the tradition or Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, this EP is a commentary on current times, especially the dangerous cult mentality prevalent today.

The EP’s opening track High On Cult Life delves into the psychology of blindly following a charismatic leader, likening it to drug addiction. The other tracks follow the soul journey of these followers. Bells Toll points to the root of all this fear and misplaced anger — the sordid slave history of the South. This Haunted Love is about filling a void of love and personal connection with idolatry.

Finally, Sold Down The River examines the denouement of betrayal when followers realize they gave their souls to someone who doesn’t have one. So many people use religion and the threat of hell to lob hate at others, but they will likely find out too late what sort of Contrapasso the fates have in store for them. The album art on Contrapasso illustrates the musical statements within — a lemming-like follower leaps off a cliff while their leader watches. It’s a poignant statement that refuses to be ignored, and an important lesson for many who likely won’t heed it.

In a musical partnership that has officially spanned 20 years, Anders and O’Bitz have worked in a number of genres and formats, but their home base is and always has been folk and Americana. With this offering they’ve become decidedly more entrenched in that Americana sound. The duo conscripted a number of musicians, led by multi-instrumentalist Mike Butler (who also produced and mixed the EP) and drummer John O’Reily Jr. By contrast, O’Bitz doesn’t play any instruments on this EP. They need not fret, however; while O’Bitz indeed hasn’t played on the duo’s last few offerings, he is still there in his writing and composition. It would be obvious to anyone who knows his work, with the tone and complex arrangements being unmistakable.

Check out Contrapasso above and follow Eric Anders & Mark O’Bitz on Facebook and Instagram.