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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Open Graves - Somewhere Beyond Or Behind (Prefecture, 2013) ****

By Stef

Not only the band's name, but also the music is something exceptional. I gave "Flight Patterns", one of their former albums a good rating, and this album, even more minimalist, is at the same high level. The band is actually a duo, Jesse Olsen Bay on metal percussion, broken and acoustic guitar, and Paul Kikuchi (also Empty Cage Quartet) on metal percussion, prepared piano and drum kit.

In a way, the instruments used are relatively pointless, since both musicians manage to create sound environments with possibly any kind of instrument or object.

On "Sirocco", the first track, they only use percussion, creating a tense and flowing sound, often barely touching the silence underneath, like the wind mentioned in its title, creating an incredible sense of space and intensity, a kind of menacing beauty that defies explanation.

They switch instruments on "Blues For Morton", with the broken guitars taking a lead role. Tuning and chords and harmony have become irrelevant, yet despite this, the sounds are harmonious and well-paced and in a way almost natural, as in intimate, and recognisable, even if you can't and haven't heard this before - a welcoming strangeness.

"Somewhere Beyond Or Behind" is possibly the most explicit piece, with piano and guitar easily identifiable, offering more substance to the slow and eery progression, a slow evolution and transgression into maintained silence.

Listen and buy from Bandcamp.