Saturday, May 30, 2020
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Artist: Oa (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone Records
Rated: *****
Oa is the work of Hugh Behm-Steinberg and Matt Davignon, who are assisted by a host of individuals who provided spoken word for this release. The label describes the album as such: Oa 'uses spoken stories, phrases, words and phonemes as the building blocks for improvised experimental music. Matt has been electronically manipulating sounds for over 20 years, including building an organic voice for drum machine,' and 'Hugh's poetry has been published in [various] books... Oa's debut CD compiles improvisations for samplers and digital turntables, mixing all the voices into a musical soup with ebbing and flowing narratives.' Sounds promising ' let's get into the music. We start with 'George,' which features spoken word about a 7-year-old, non-verbal, autistic boy. When it begins skipping, I first thought that it was a problem with the disc, but as it became increasingly glitch I realized that this as intentional. The voice slowly becomes enveloped in drone and vocal tones as it drags you into its disjointed narrative. 'Horsehead' features a different voice and a more processed, less lucid feel. Buzzing drone wash over overdubbed voices that tell a vaguely sinister story in which we find that she gave a horse head as a gift. 'Travel' continues this trajectory toward noisiness with a pulsing, repetitive melody over a story about a cat which becomes processed beyond recognition. The rest of the album follows a similar track between these extremes of clarity and noise, all with stories that you wish you could hear the end of. Overall, this was an interesting album and the stories, which range from the typical spoken word already discussed to the distorted answering machine messages of 'I'll Wait' provides a nice thread of continuity throughout. Well worth checking out.