Sunday, January 4, 2009

Best of 2008: #14. Off Minor - Some Blood

The band is offering the album for as much as you're willing to pay here.

I’ve never been a big Off Minor fan. I’ve seen people rave over the raw intensity of The Heat Death of the Universe, and while I can agree that both of those descriptors are accurate, it just doesn’t do anything for me. My complaints for Off Minor go along the same line as my objections to Ampere: the band is too chaotic, too unwieldy, and while I can objectively say that what they’re doing instrumentally is highly impressive, it rarely comes together in a way that manages to be accessible and interesting (“Staring Down the Barrel of Limited Options” being a noticeable exception). Trying to latch onto a melody in the cacophonous, almost jazz-like progression Off Minor plays in can be difficult, so as to render any attempt to do so ultimately obscured by the band’s own free-flowing nature. On Some Blood, Off Minor doesn’t exactly change this style, but they do manage to succeed regardless with what has to be their most approachable release yet, which is a major plus for anyone (i.e. me) who had trouble getting into them before.

Some Blood opens with the chaotic and noisy "Neologist", an intriguing track that features some interesting guitar effects and fantastic drumming (as does the entire album). The album continues much through the same pattern that Off Minor has made their trademark, with blusterous instrumental explosions followed by minimalist breaks, all of it delivered with passion and a willful sense of discordance. "Everything Explicit" takes the traditionally short song-lengths of Off Minor's canon and spreads the group's free form style over six minutes of blistering furor, even including the occasional harmonic reprieve. But this is nothing compared to the progressiveness of the album's final song, "Practice Absence". Running nearly eight minutes in length, this song takes the form of something of a monotone duet between a male and female vocalist, both drolly chanting their lines as the guitar and drums slowly increase in pace, eventually leading to a fiery and cathartic finish. The female vocals are especially beautiful, painting the image of a muted tragedy as the cry of "at the end of all things" echoes throughout the blank canvas. At the song's climactic finish, as the guitars rupture and a thunderous din envelops the former quiet, an intensity is created that is rarely matched. That something so fierce could also be so beautiful...

what's best left unsaid?

No comments: