subota, 27. listopada 2012.

oOoOO – Our Loving Is Hurting Us

Kriogenički witch house. Hipnotične, fragilne sablasti koje u slobodno vrijeme pripotomljuju noćne more i pretvaraju ih u Hello Kitty lutke.

When reading the name “oOoOO” phonetically, it obviously sounds ghostly. Something wicked this way comes with Our Loving Is Hurting Us, then. oOoOO, apparently pronounced as a not-drawn-out “oh”, is the moniker of San Franciscan producer Christopher Dexter Greenspan, whose brand of DIY electronic pop is more associated with witch-house than chillwave. As oOoOO, Greenspan draws from pop and hip-hop influences and twists them into something spooky, and his second EP, Our Loving Is Hurting Us, furthers the dark voyage.
Offering a crash course in what made made oOoOO’s self-titled EP so irresistibly haunting are “Break Yr Heart” and “TryTry”. On Our Loving Is Hurting Us opener “TryTry”, a leaden beat clatters along a forest of echoed synths and otherworldly yelps that start and stop in a most disharmonious fashion, while the vocoded, childlike vocals of “Break Yr Heart” lure the listener through an inescapable pool of ectoplasm churned by gothed-out synths. On “Springs”, Greenspan shifts gears toward newer territories. Here it’s more Grimes meets Air than witch-house, as spaced-out synths, old school percussion gone inverse, and a gurgling bassline are turned alluring by the ethereal coos of Laura Butterclock.
Just when the nether world of oOoOO threatens to become familiar, Greenspan keeps the mystery going on “Starr”. Relishing in his dabbling with magics disparate, oOoOO conjures vocal loops of both the demonic and the Top 40 sorts and then drops a guitar solo as eerie as unexpected. The apparition that is Butterclock returns on “NoWayBack” to bring Our Loving Is Hurting Us to a memorable close. With its otherworldy cries, spectral synths, slow-burning beat, and the kind of impeccable production that would do Burial proud, “NoWayBack” is a four-and-a-half minute summary of the best of what oOoOO has to offer. - Frank Mojica

What the bloody hell happened to Witch House? Since its emergence, practically every artist associated with it has either (somewhat appropriately) vanished into thin air (everyone except Balam Acab) or shifted stylistically to great critical success (Balam Acab). I was talking to a friend about this the only other day when 24 hours later what should manifest itself in my inbox? A new EP from Christopher Greenspan aka oOoOO.
In fact, this is only the second official release from oOoOO in as many years; a fact which seems to have generated something of a backlash in some quarters on account of Greenspan’s seeming inability or lack of desire to develop the oOoOO sound beyond its original template and the lack of any substantial amount of new material.
oOoOO surfaced in 2010 alongside artists like Mater Suspiria Vision, Demdike Stare (c’mon, they definitely were), Salem, Ectoplasm Girls and the aforementioned Balam Acab as part of the burgeoning drag/witch house movement and issued his eponymous debut EP to rapturous acclaim with an inventive, and mesmerising, combination of murky but nonetheless affecting pop songs married to a chopped and screwed production style and more than a heavy smattering of hip hop (and crucially) R&B tones, textures and influences. Remaining with the Tri Angle label, April 2012 finally sees the sequel to oOoOO drop and whilst these new songs certainly do not represent anything like a major change in style there is a definite lurch towards a poppier sound.
Our Love Is Hurting Us comes wrapped in a brilliantly vague and eerie sleeve in exactly the same stylistic continuum of that first EP – washed-out colours, presumably female arms twisted in a sensual yet disconcerting pose, clothed in out-of-time fabric, carrying an odd implication of sex whilst remaining ghostly and out-of-reach. The polaroid-like quality further embeds a slightly uncomfortable feeling of voyeurism which the music does nothing to dispel.
So, what does actually lie within? Five songs coming in just under 18 minutes of superior darkly-stranded pop music, that’s what. And this really is pop music not some collapsing noise where catching sight of the tiniest grain of sugar in a pint of vibrating nails means that the composer is Paul McCartney in disguise. There are melodies and structures with middle eights and vocals (both original and sampled), beats that largely keep time and wouldn’t sound out of place on a decent R Kelly or Usher tune. As such, Our Love Is Hurting Us needs to be assessed as such and not as anything else. It utilises exactly the same components as Black Eyed Peas and nobody would refer to them as being, say, electronica.
That said, the EP’s opening bars though seem a world away from such ideals with chain-clanking beats tripping over a wildly out-of-sync vocal loop (the ‘TryTry’ of the title) and a monstrously rumbling bassline before a slow, arpeggiated synth kicks in and everything falls into rhythmic place with some wordless, ethereal vocals sealing the creepy deal. ‘Springs’ shimmers along on a rapid staccato R&B drum machine with old-skool rave sprinkles and yet another haunted female voice that manages to sound at once young and world-weary. If Britney had been allowed to dwell on her own internal chaos rather than ride the revitalisation machine post-Blackout the results would not have been massively dissimilar, and that’s a mighty compliment. ‘Starr’ surprisingly throws in a liquid-soft rock guitar solo over Cocteau Twins-esque underwater piano and what could be snippets of Christina Aguilera and/or Mariah Carey. ‘Break Yr Heart’  is a proper death-of-rave anthem and the closest Greenspan strays into Burial territory. Our Love Is Hurting Us closes with ‘NoWayBack’ which features a seductive vocal from Butterclock with an opening riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on Aphex’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II before a more dominant 80’s electro synth draws us to a close.
It seems odd to criticise Greenspan for a lack of development or progression – and progression is the kind of meaningless crap that people like Dawkins like to spout on a daily basis. Of course I’m not suggesting that we should stick our heads in the sand and wait for The Levellers tourbus to come to town but it has taken Burial nearly a decade to introduce even the slightest stylistic change, and surely it would smack of utter careerism if oOoOO had suddenly switched genres and started making funky house or something. I sense a certain amount of critical embarrassment with the praise initially lavished on witch house and drag but oOoOO sounded affecting, individual and original two years ago (really not a very long time) and still sounds so now. And what Burial is to rave, oOoOO seems to be for relationship. These songs are the ghosts of love affairs and the spectres of sex and we should be celebrating this for what it is: a strange, emotionally unsettling model of pop music that is high on melody, atmosphere and subtle drama.- Jonny Mugwump

For a hot minute in late 2011, it seemed like Tri-Angle Records was turning into the ‘10s version of James’ Murphy’s DFA Records: a boutique label that slowly built up a potent roster of zeitgeist capturing musicians staking their claim on the future of dance music’s soul. And while DFA became a clearinghouse for the best dance punk NYC had to offer at the turn of the century, Tri-Angle founder Robin Carolan focused mostly on corralling an international group of under the radar artists plying their trade in variations of severely abstracted dubstep, house, R&B, and general EDM. (The label currently boasts Holy Other, How To Dress Well, Clams Casino, and Balam Acab among its talent.)
San Francisco native Chris Dexter Greenspan and his oOoOO project (pronounced “Oh”) illustrated the minimalist, enigmatic, and casually ominous aesthetic of Tri-Angle best with the stunning narco-disco banger “Hearts” from his 2011 self-titled debut EP.  It’s a deceptive, disturbing track that sounds like “Heart of Glass” on Ketamine: all off-key distorted synths, burpy, meandering bass lines, and a female lead vocal that’s pushed back mixed and feels more ghostly than alluring.
Greenspan’s 2012 EP Our Love is Hurting Us plays even more dark and refracted than oOoOO; scraping away any unexpected residual euphoria that could be left over (or even enjoyed) from “Hearts” or the melting slow jam “Burnout Eyes.” It’s an eerie, unforgiving collection of tracks,  dripping with the ethereal doom of witch house, and injecting a harrowing cacophony of down-tempo synths and samples into an already moody sonic palette. Vocals are dissected, slowed down, or simply indecipherable and the production is a cavernous haunted house of electronic blips and squelches, disorienting echo, and shattered drum beats. It’s a testament to Greenspan’s sense of composition, then, that Our Love never becomes overwhelmed by its own shadows. These tracks gasp and lurch forward like zombies on heroin, sure, but there’s enough intrigue and melody in the darkness for this music to remain compelling.
Two of the five tracks, album opener “Try Try” and “Starr,” basically share the same strung-out, demented brain. Wrapped in evil splatters of John Carpenter electronics and skittering break beats (although the latter features a druggy guitar solo to boot), both tracks lean on terrifying central vocal parts that resemble a poltergeist disintegrating. “Springs Feat. Butterclock” is similarly treacherous, but evolves into a seductive, hypnotic piece of trance-pop thanks to Nevada-native Butterclock’s (Lauren Clock) suitably gorgeous voice. Her talents are put to devastating use on the EP’s best track, “NoWayBack,”  where Greenspan crafts the least fractured composition on the release.
Keeping a fragile (although still spooky) synth line in step with a consistent, hard hitting drum part allows Butterclock’s vocals to soar and change shape. The chorus (“Ooohh/There’s no way back”) resembles the melodramatic final line of an '80s slasher film, but Clock’s delivery makes it unclear whether she’s the victim or the killer. And that sort of ambiguity is one of Greenspan’s most valuable assets. The music of oOoOO is troublingly dark, but it’s dark as in “murky.” In the best horror films, it’s not easy to see the villain. -

 The wait was long, the expectations were high. However oOoOO, Christopher Greenspan’s moniker, has returned with new work to add onto Tri Angle‘s impressive catalogue. When listening, one of the first things to note is that Greenspan has wavered away from darkness and leans more towards the poppy sound of shoegaze and chillwave. Among the genre this trend is surfacing; Last year White Ring released an ethereal version of Neil Young‘s Hey Hey My My and High Park‘s Live Slow had traded in darkness for mysticism. Now Greenspan has had that already, yet on Our Loving Is Hurting Us he has a different take on it altogether. In the past there were the gloomy Mumbai and dusky Sedsumthing and this new release offers Starr. Furthermore does it appear the American producer has laid his ear to Burial’s work. The Englishman’s traits are remodelled and shaped in the oOoOO fashion.
Our Loving Is Hurting Us starts off with a strong element of ambient and a timid drum pattern tracing behind. This sound lays the fundament of the whole EP. As TryTry advances, it reminds somewhat of a brighter version of Burial due to the use of echoes and subtle vocals as it nears the end. Springs follows, featuring Greenspan’s partner in crime Butterglock. In her first appearance her vocals are central on a background of dreamy synths and occasional drums. The overall performance would let it fit right in with the soundtrack of a movie like Virgin Suicides. Starr is the third in line. Its ghost vocals accompany the more upbeat flow of the EP. The track is filled with brief beats and sounds, making it more intricate. This reaches zenith with a guitar sample grazing and culminating Starr.
Break Yr Heart embraces the chillwave elements most clearly due to the use of percussion elements and the dreamy atmosphere. The vocals, ethereal and honest, make it the most fragile of the EP. This too has a hint of Burial, yet it never sounds like Greenspan is being a copycat. NoWayBack is the final track. It has already been compared with NoSummer4u when the track first surfaced along with the news of the new EP. NoWayBack is the track which combines the elements best. Butterclock’s voice plays a key role as it is like a silk sword, cutting through the sound without being overly present. It makes for an excellent closer.
oOoOO has changed his sound, but not his watermark. Regardless of the light shining through his work, Greenspan doesn’t defy his style choices. Butterclock‘s influence allows the EP to excel. In other words Our Loving Is Hurting Us has five great tracks and proves to be another classic. -

New Release: oOoOO: oOoOO EP

oOoOO, oOoOO (2010)

oOoOO is something of a mystery. She or it or they or whoever is creating this lo-fi haunted house abstraction may just be a genius. Coming at an awkward time I expect comparisons to recent phenomenon How To Dress Well. The merits are there but the approach is different. oOoOO is creating symphonic horror with exquisite undertones providing a delicate balance between intimacy and remoteness. While she’s busy soothing your soul with psychedelic jazz progressions she simultaneously cools the heart with a voice more hollow than the ghost she lives through.
She’s able to grasp some real meaty substance with her debut self-titled EP. For starters she’s cleverly adapted hooks that feel ripped out a page from the 1980’s r&b recipe booklet; ripe with thick grooves and samples that weave in everything from techno to drone. This isn’t a difficult concept to understand as “Sedsumting” repeats “sound, sound, sound, sound…” ultimately conveying the effervescent goal. Whether that goal is achieved with screeching synthesizers gliding serenely across tracks, like a majority of
oOoOO employs, or the utilization of more physical instruments both drum and guitar – see the sleek “Hearts”, which provide a rugged backdrop for her voice to soar over. Even then the focus isn’t solely on her as much as the sounds being created. If she’s not storming to and fro woefully with her voice she’s allowing for a funky groove to make its mark on the listener complete with intricate bass lines, still over synths of course.
Yet what makes oOoOO so mysterious is the distance she keeps. At times when her voice could be captivating she tends to pull away and let the noise take control; when she invites an eerie sample to be the base of the beat she over powers it with clicks, claps and an overly loud whisper. Coupled with this distance comes the ambiguity of her emotion, whether she wants a certain track to be sorrow filled or over joyous is discretionary but never clear cut. She tends to be doing the wrong things at the wrong times, like singing jubilantly over droning tracks, however the outcome
feels right – as if the awkward choices are in fact best suited for the experiment of the album. After all, this album is a reflection of a birthing genre “witch house”; present with dynamics that are constantly testing the ear by sonically moving in and out without even a chance to catch a breath, and soundscapes that range from depressing moods to really depressing moods with poppy overtones. It’s like being excited for a wedding that’s happening at a graveyard; coincidentally it appears that’s what the album’s art is proposing. -

It would be easy to classify San Francisco's Christopher Dexter Greenspan as a witch-house or drag producer and be done with it. Under the moniker oOoOO (pronounced "oh"), he's releasing his self-titled debut EP on Tri Angle-- a label that has come to be associated with the trendy sound through releases from like-minded acts such as Balam Acab. And though certain hallmarks of the genre's syrupy electro-goth can be detected on oOoOO, from the trap-hop drum machines to the frosted synths, he seems determined not to be pigeonholed, all while remaining one of the frontrunners of the scene.
Simply put, the guy isn't easy to peg. His earlier material explored spatial Dirty South trademarks ("NoSummr4u") alongside a lantern-lit sea chanty ("No Shore"). But the synthesis of these seemingly opposite styles-- along with Greenspan's ability to make them work in a purely electronic setting and feel comfortable up against one another-- has lead to this solid debut. Opener "Mumbai" is a brief, dystopian dirge that mixes a chopped Hindi-pop vocal with droning Middle Eastern atmospherics and hollow claps. It's not an unexpected introduction-- it's spooky, witchy-- but it's born from a variety of approaches.
Surprisingly, it's also approachable. Thus while making music that practically prides itself on being druggy and other-wordly, Greenspan is able to rise above his peers. Highlight "Hearts" drops a pin at the crossroads where commercially viable hip-hop gravitates toward left-field electronic influences. Talking to Pitchfork a few months ago, Greenspan discussed his admiration for pop-centered hip-hop and R&B artists like Nicki Minaj and Usher, and much of oOoOO (like the woozy club vibe of "Burnout Eyess" or the uncharacteristically sensual allure of "Sedsumting") manages to bridge these two worlds. Greenspan feels so comfortable in his own skin that, by following his own unique patterns, he's able to defy the confines of a genre that seems especially susceptible to bandwagon-jumping. - Zach Kelly

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