pg.lost – Oscillate

Posted: 17 November 2020 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pelagic Records – 20th November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The Swedish quartet’s fifth album finds them freely drawing on myriad genre references to conjure a cocktail that extends far beyond even the broadest perimeters of post-rock to render this a truly hybrid work. The scale of the ambition is immense, and for a band who rarely spent time together and only rehearse ahead of tours or to write and record albums, the way they’ve drawn everything together so organically is remarkable.

The title is quite fitting as they swing back and forth across the forms and styles, with a brooding electroambient introduction in the form of the title track which builds by stealth over the course of seven and a half minutes to a grand-scale swell of cinematic hypnotism with rolling drums driving a cyclical synth motif.

‘E22’ brings the guitars to the fore and is more overtly conventionally post-rock, but it’s got a certain progressive edge, not to mention some weight, breaking into some hefty bass-dominated riffage around the five-minute mark. There’s a pace-rock / psyche twist to ‘Mindtrip’, by far the album’s most accessible and buoyant tune, and it contrasts with the altogether more tense ‘Shelter’, which emanates a simmering tension. The absence of vocals actually accentuates the mood and renders it all the more relatable, as the listener pours the emotional contents of their own experience into the empty vessel the band present.

This, for me – and doubtless for many, having attended countless instrumental post-rock shows in the decade spanning 2002-2012 – is the draw of the genre, at least when well-executed: post-rock presents sonic expanses without authorial steer, without any insistence on specific meaning, leaving the listener to fill in the spaces. And with vast, expansive spaces in which to wander, into which to pour one’s thoughts and experiences, this is music that opens its arms to a world of freedom.

They don’t do short songs: Oscillate only contains eight tracks, but only two of those clock in under six minutes, and the final pairing of ‘Eraser’ and ‘The Headless Man’, both of which extend well past the eight-minute measure. The first of these is a dynamic rush of a tune, with propellant drumming and a solid bass throb, while the second is a redemptive sunburst of a tune, the light of dawn breaking over the horizon.

Oscillate is a strong set, and the album will indubitably appeal to fans of MONO, Explosions in the Sky, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but in context, comparisons are reductive: this is an album that stretches far wider than its influences and is truly impressive in its breadth and scale.

AA

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