Ola Podrida stirs in the 'Belly of the Lion'
"Cinematic scope" gets too many close-ups in critic-speak, but 35mm perspective comes naturally to Ola Podrida leader David Wingo. The Dallas native and longtime Austinite first garnered national praise after scoring the acclaimed indie films of director and close friend David Gordon Green, most notably All the Real Girls and George Washington (see "Vision and Focus," Screens, Nov. 12, 2004). The latter soundtrack was released in 2002 on local label Emperor Jones.
Wingo does his best work in scenes, crafting imagistic snapshots over a Hill Country backdrop, combining Iron & Wine's dusty lore with the breathy melancholy of Nick Drake. What's not said is often as important as what is, an uncertain anxiety lurking in shadowy details. This deceptively complex balance of atmosphere and tension made Ola Podrida's eponymous debut one of the sleeper hits of 2007.
"With soundtracks, the director already has an idea for the emotion for a certain scene or the mood, and I have to approach it with the end result in mind," relates Wingo, who recently moved back to Austin after a stint in Brooklyn. "Now that's just etched into my process."
That much is evident on Ola Podrida's sophomore effort and Western Vinyl debut, Belly of the Lion, due Nov. 10. The album was written and recorded late last year in his Brooklyn apartment between session work for Gentlemen Broncos, the new comedy from Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess that premieres at the Paramount Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 24, as part of Fantastic Fest.
Belly of the Lion, on which Wingo plays every instrument except a few drum tracks, should push Ola Podrida into the thick of indie rock's folk awakening. It puts a rural twist on modern dream pop, at times recalling Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here spun at half-speed and steeped in the nocturnal 1990s haze of Trance Syndicate's slow-core movement. In fact, American Analog Set's Andrew Kenny was a touring member of Ola Podrida when the then-quintet swooned Central Presbyterian Church at South by Southwest 2008.
"It's a guitar record for sure," Wingo enthuses. "I've been having some fun plugging in effects pedals again."