Tag Archives: rich oddie

[Review: Oureboros, ‘Dreaming in Earth, Dissolving in Light’]

Oureboros’s is the collaborative project of Hamilton’s Rich Oddie and Toronto’s Aron West aka Tnon, two of the founding members of noise/industrial outfit Orphx. Their first release as Oureboros, Dreaming in Earth, Dissolving in Light, contains a similar penchant for industrial soundscapes that fans of Orphx will appreciate, especially the early more ambient period before Tnon departed in 1995 to co-found Tropism.

The album begins by forcing the listener to descend from our overworld into the heart of a mountain. It slowly drones deeply as you experience your spirit dropping lower and lower. The piece as a whole seems to be an experiment in abstract dissonance, again reminiscent of early (and later) Orphx. Even when the sonic environment brightens up through dissolving, it inevitably evolves into a mutated doppelgänger of itself. While the instrumentation does include live instruments, it is–as far as I can tell–mostly limited to pure frequencies, noise, and synthesized sounds or effects. Overall, the songs are not minimalistic, yet they retain the droning and ambient structure in most (arguably all) places. The description provided on their website is a perhaps an apt way of explaining it: “… A unique fusion of deep ambient electronics, apocalyptic industrial, and ritualistic six-string walls of sound that evoke elements of black metal and shoegaze.”

An interesting aspect of this album is how layered the melodies are, though the word melody might not be the best way to describe these shimmering shards of sound. Meandering through the different songs displays a diverse array of atmospheres and situations and your experience of this album will depend on which tracks your attention chooses to focus on. Chances are that “Dissolving in Light” will be the song to catch most peoples’ ears.

While the album can be simultaneously harsh, sad, beautiful, and caustic, it tends toward heavy darkness while avoiding the ditch of depression; it is spacy and psychedelic without the science fiction.

The production work on Dreaming in Earth, Dissolving in Light is top-notch. At no place did I ever feel as if I was anywhere but in the world that this album creates. The sonic cues are all just perfect and the range of dynamics is pretty spectacular, whether on the headphones or the speakers. It’s a very polished offering without sounding processed or over produced. Overall the album is very relaxing, which is not to say it’s peaceful. Perfect background music for lying alone in a dark room or doing light work. But don’t let it recede too far into the background or you’ll miss out on a lot of what gives the album its charm.

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Review by Roth’s Child


[Review: Magic Shadows, ‘Sunburned Mind’]

Sunburned Mind, the debut physical release from Hamilton’s Magic Shadows, revels in a vintage sound, melding the musical stylings of the last three decades by fusing elements of droney shoegaze with the balls-to-the-wall attitude of garage and DIY punk. Considering the band’s name comes from the classic Canadian television series of the same name, it’s not surprising that the Sunburned Mind 7″ takes on the feel of an acid trip gone wrong as it patiently plays with various tones and timbres allowing for a wide range of sound to emerge from repetitive progressions.

The title track opens the 7” with a subtly eerie progression, perfectly setting the tone for the listener. Starting with a chord progression on a clean channel, the riff is picked up in unison by the bass and a heavily distorted second guitar, creating a dissonance that carries through to the end of the song. The vocals shine through, not so much in volume but more so in melody, invoking the likes of early Ramones or other proto-punk vocals. The presence of various overdrive effects gives the song a very full-bodied sound, which of course has always been a staple of shoegaze music dating back to My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive.

Though there is a lead guitar riff on the title track, it is somewhat drowned out by the wall of sound created by the backing instruments. This is not a negative, however, as it too adds depth to the track, accentuating the vocals, especially during the wailing chorus. Overall it is a “catchy” song, if in somewhat of an atypical fashion. No one instrument stands out above the rest, but the song as a whole is presented in a well-crafted manner.

The side B track, “Under the Stairs,” truly shows off the punk inspiration, opening with a viscous riff that sounds like the incessant growl of heavy machinery. Quickly breaking off from the onslaught of sound the verse has a call and answer feel to it, each stanza interrupted by the band’s “Ahs.” A lead guitar pierces the monotony of the droning rhythm section, though not a technically proficient lick it fits perfectly with the rebellious attitude of the piece. The power of the vocalist Rich Oddie is very evident on this track, as he is almost required to shout over the instrumentation, yet he remains in key, a feat few are able to perform.

Oddie, of course, is better known as one half of the dark rythmic noise/industrial techno duo Orphx, which has garnered international acclaim from both DJs and producers for their blending of modular and analog synthesizers, feedback circuits, location recordings and homemade instruments to create a uniquely dark and electronic body-resonating sound. Oddie said in an interview that despite his previous work in electronic sounds, he’s “been a fan of blues and rock for many years, and especially more psychedelic forms of rock like shoegaze, ‘60s psych, krautrock, etc.” Magic Shadows is his attempt to “get back to singing and playing guitar live.”

Along for the ride are bassist Tyler Cooke, who also plays in garage rock band Mystics, and guitarist Mike Long, who has made a name in Hamilton working in videoGreg Voisin rounds out the group on drums.

A 7” such as this tends to only offer a teasing glimpse of the band as a whole. Though they come across as a solid outfit, the true power of their music can probably only be felt at a live performance. The music comes across very heavy, which unfortunately tends to be toned down due to mastering, resulting in a loss of general energy. The DIY feel of the album is a definite selling point to those who demand music with a raw feeling, which does make up for any lack of energy mentioned above. Though the 7” is not very clean in execution, the few flaws that are evident only add to the overall sound.

[youtube:http://youtu.be/lwTnZ5QfKiE%5D

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Review by Brendan O’Malley

* Catch Magic Shadows TONIGHT in Hamilton at This Ain’t Hollywood


[Mixed Up Monday: Orphx, Live @ Mutek]

Here is a mix from Hamilton duo Orphx that was recorded at Montreal’s Mutek festival in 2010. On the surface, Orphx’s music and mixes (which generally consist of primarily their own songs) might sound like a darker more industrial take on  traditional techno. Their inclusion in the Mutek festival though should clue you in to what those familiar with this duo already know–there is a lot more going on in their mixes then what you will hear in most other “electronic dance music” mixes.

Check their description from their soundcloud site below:

Since the mid-1990s, Rich Oddie and Christina Sealey have been creating a unique fusion of techno, industrial, and electro-acoustic music. Using modular and analog synthesizers, software, feedback circuits, location recordings and homemade instruments, Oddie and Sealey draw upon the darker tendencies of techno, electro, and dub, and combine these elements with the experimental aesthetics of early industrial music. Orphx has gained an international following as one of the pioneering acts within the European “rhythmic noise” scene. They have performed in numerous countries around the world, appearing alongside artists such as Alva Noto, Laurie Anderson, Monolake, Pan Sonic and many others. Oddie and Sealey have also collaborated on audio / visual projects and exhibitions related to their musical work. Orphx have released nine full length albums and numerous singles on vinyl, cd and cassette. Their most recent work further develops a dark hybrid of techno, dub and industrial that has garnered critical acclaim from many of techno’s leading DJs.