Imagine Sigur Ros‘ evil younger sibling being forced by Mr and Mrs Ros to live in a darkened attic. With only the rats and darkness as company, the child eventually goes mad and begins screeching and clawing at the walls while the favourite son plays downstairs, merrily oblivious to the tortures in the background.
Try to picture that for a second and you’re pretty damn close to describing the sound of this album – a lengthy and epic piece of work that succeeds in mixing the dark and scary with the serene and beautiful- all at the same time.
The opening track (Rejoice) cannily puts us into familiar territory. We’re expecting a Sigur Ros clone, something ambient to play on a chilled out session, when suddenly ominous clouds gather on the horizon and we’re transported into a sonic twilight zone.
The real shock is when the vocals arrive. Whereas their Icelandic cousins sing in a wistful and beautiful made up language, OBTN sounds like a man placed on the rack being stretched to within an inch his life – something more at home in the death metal/grindcore genre. The strange thing about this contradiction is that it works perfectly and the mostly indecipherable yells act as a cleansing primal scream before more waves of beauty crash over us.
This is eighty minutes of epic tracks echoing many things such as the aforementioned Ros, animal song, Metal Machine Music and Pink Floyd circa Ummagumma. There are plenty of strange noises bobbing below the surface that reward you with every listen. Not ones to shy away from experimentation, the band utilise as many objects as they can to create their sound. Earlier exploits included modifying the circuitry on a Furby to gain the desired effect.
Some tracks such as We Are The Living leave behind the yelling for more straight forward vocals, but they still float around in a sonic void. They are never entirely decipherable, creating a dream like state as they ride along on the periphery.
What makes this album all the more impressive is the age of the band. They are mostly still in their teens and it’s astonishing that such a mature piece of work could come from three young self-confessed music geeks. Their publicity shot looks like a group casting for the “McLovin” role in a teen movie. How they produced such a weighty, almost biblical, headfuck of an album must prove there’s some major talent in their DNA.
It’s a little strange, sometimes difficult to listen to, and a frightening journey, but this album is extremely rewarding. If conditions are perfect you’ll find this an odd but intense emotional roller coaster.