O! The Joy

Zen Mode

Written by: PP on 16/03/2008 06:21:44

Sacramento\'s O! The Joy is a band that makes me simultaneously love and hate the task of a reviewer, because their debut album \"Zen Mode\" reminds me about both the great and not-so-great aspects about this job. O! The Joy is the most original and most creative band having arrived in our mailbox since The Fall Of Troy\'s \"Doppelgänger\", which is great because I\'m passionate about experimental music that takes every attempt at expanding genre boundaries, but it\'s also not-so-great as it leaves me pulling my hair because I cannot find a suitable way in which to write this review.

\"Zen Mode\", their debut album, is an extremely complicated piece of artistic experimentation taken completely out of the context of its genre descriptions. The starting point for the album is simple: electrifying, readily accessible indie rock, except the simplicity got lost somewhere in the process when the band added about a hundred dimensions to each of their masterful arrangements. Each song on the album is a vibrant, eccentric example of how the definition of experimental indie rock can be stretched into every possible direction. The range of melodies on \"Zen Mode\" is unbelievable, leaving the listener astonished time and time again over how different and unique every song sounds without an unfocused feel.

All songs on the album have been constructed in a modular way similar to the approach Between The Buried And Me takes in their songwriting. The arrangements vary from free-form jazz sessions to vivid sound-explosions full of colourful guitar patterns and harmonies, and then all of a sudden you are treated to a guitar virtuoso contesting that of Thomas Erak and his band The Fall Of Troy. And in many ways, O! The Joy sounds so similar to The Fall Of Troy, that when the harmonious clean vocals are paused for long instrumental sessions, it\'d be close to impossible to claim that it wasn\'t Erak & co playing instead of O! The Joy.

There are simply so many things to explore on the album that it\'s difficult to know where to start. For instance, \"Zen Mode\"\'s title track is an eight minute epic masterpiece which sounds exactly like how I had imagined a Bear Vs Shark/The Fall Of Troy collaboration to sound like. Then you\'ve got the 44 second track \"Guiding Role\" or the other shortie \"The Mand And The Secrets\", both of which take an instrumental route positioned somewhere between Explosions In The Sky and Pelican. And pretty much everything in between. There are tumultuous moments where the instruments loudly explode in every direction, and contrasting that, there are silent, softly sung sessions which rival Portugal. The Man in their experimentalism. That\'s why it\'s so difficult to exactly put onto paper the sound that is \"Zen Mode\", and it\'s even harder to do so in a way that does the album any justice. To call it merely a fantastic experimental indie rock piece isn\'t enough, as there are elements of so many other genres in their music. Close inspection will reveal similarities to the emo/screamo, post-rock, and the instrumental scenes, and that\'s just a start. There are countless other genres that the album touches, too.

That\'s why O! The Joy is a band that I\'ll wholeheartedly recommend for all our readers to check out in detail. Their sound spreads itself over so many genres that I\'d be surprised to find anyone who doesn\'t find at least something ear-pleasing in \"Zen Mode\". But be warned, upon checking the album out, it might end up stuck in your playlist\'s constant rotation for an extended amount of time.

Download: Conceivable Test Tube Baby, Zen Mode, 22435
For the fans of: The Fall Of Troy, Portugal. The Man, Bear vs Shark
Listen: Myspace
Buy: iTunes

Release date 11.03.2008
Distile Records

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