Monday 18 February 2019

Ogmasun - Into the Void (2019)

Country: Switzerland
Style: Post-Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 25 Jan 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | Twitter | YouTube

Here's an interesting album that doesn't sound remotely like anything I've reviewed thus far at Apocalypse Later, which works well with my primary mission of discovery. Maybe this will open a door for you.

Ogmasun are Swiss and they're a post-rock band, which means that they're interested less in riffs and hooks (and all the other component parts that you might see as crucial to rock music) and more in conjuring interesting soundscapes out of traditional rock instruments like guitars and drums.

I've found this post-rock approach fascinating because I've long enjoyed it from electronica bands, like Tangerine Dream, who started out within the Krautrock scene. The evolving soundscapes here initially reminded me of Tangerine Dream, just with more drums and fewer synths. Like Phaedra and Rubycon and Ricochet, the "songs" on Into the Void run notably long. This album lasts over thirty-six minutes but it only contains two tracks. We can ascertain movements within them, but they're not defined.

Also, neither feature vocals in the traditional sense of a singer, though there is a periodic use of vocals as instrument and the whole thing kicks off with what I presume is a sample of a young lady recounting what might be a dream or a vision or an acid trip, some sort of wild exploration of inner space that doesn't follow regular logic. Then the cymbals layer in and some sort of echoing electronica and we're off and running.

This isn't heavy stuff for a while but it finds a groove and settles down to hypnotise us with the rhythm of it. Gradually it evolves, bringing in other instruments and moods. There's some fantastic bass work a quarter of the way into Space Bears Chilling in a Hot Spring, the opening track. It all cheers up halfway through after the space bears repair the misshapen hands of our tripping heroine or whatever's going in the sample.

At points, though, it gets notably faster than Tangerine Dream and their ilk ever got, maintaining their mindset but bringing it up to date with driving textures like those I've getting used to from the more inventive black metal bands like Wolves in the Throne Room. Frankly, if anyone had given me "Tangerine Dream meets Wolves in the Throne Room" as an elevator pitch for a band, I'd have initially thought them completely nuts then promptly passed over the cash for the album.

It also has moments that are gloriously heavy. A third of the way into a gentle and relaxing Cote 304, the second and final track, there's a heavy use of bass and organ that's absolutely glorious. When it all speeds up halfway through, there's a somthering fuzziness to one guitar that plays wonderfully off the simple chiming of the other. It progresses into some fascinating use of feedback.

Perhaps most notably, there are some slow power chords during its finalé that's a sheer delight, even if the entire end section feels extended. The frantic fuzzy part starts to slow down six minutes before the track ends, it gets doomy and minimalistic with three minutes left on the clock and the last couple are primarily taken up by a single dissipating drone and those periodic echoing power chords.

It's moments like these that highlight just how long Cote 304 is because we're caught up so much by the build that we lose track of just how long that build is, but the slowdown, which actually takes less time, feels a lot longer because so little is actually happening.

I liked this a lot, listening through on repeat in my office, and I look forward to popping it on again through headphones in a dark room. It's a journey and I wonder where it'll take me when I get rid of everything in my surrounding area that's distracting me from the experience.

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