Can’t an album be lauded for its composition merits instead of how original it is? Apparently not. Bands like the now defunct Ocoai are often dismissed as generic simply because they don’t try to wow listeners with how “experimental” or “forward thinking” they are. I respectfully disagree with that thought process. Although Ocoai’s “The Electric Hand” was far from groundbreaking, it still displayed a vast amount of musicality. It is Post-Metal done by the book… and it is done extremely well.
One of the first things I noticed when I listened to this album was the production and composition. This album balances traditional rock instruments with orchestral arrangements (played on real instruments, I might add) with electronic ambience thrown in for good measure. The fact each element has room to breathe can only be credited to the skill of the musicians making the music. Injecting orchestral soundscapes into rock music is nothing new in the post rock community, but Ocoai still caught my attention. That is the theme of The Electric Hand: ignoring the fact many would consider a musical approach played out as they revitalizing it with surpassing artistry.
Complete with an intro, interlude, and outro, the 7 tracks on The Electric Hand feels very conceptually as a single unit. Every track on the record is supposed to be there. Every sonic element is an integral part of the overarching whole. Even the three aforementioned tracks serve a vital purpose. “Waking Fear” introduces warm guitar and cello before dropping into a harrowing noise assault that unexpectedly ends with a clean major chord. The appropriately titled “Somnium” features simple, meandering cello lines over plinking sitar, misshapen violin noodling, and sound collages. The concluding “Morte Audaciter” sports mournful piano and guitar interplay that ends with footsteps leaving the studio, along with a shutting door. Although short ventures into the purely atmospheric can be more than just an excuse to call an EP an LP, The Electric Hand exemplifies how one could use them as a way to accentuate the overall emotional vibe of the album by bringing bring odd instrumentation into play.
The 4 traditional songs, like the others, are instrumental. The lack of vocals made musicality even more important to the quality of the album. As one could guess by this point, Ocoai delivers exquisite post rock/metal goodness throughout The Electric Hand. The riffs are crushingly heavy while maintaining melody and discernibility. Each passage is executed with an incredible amount of cleanliness. Don’t come here looking for the griminess of sludge metal, because these guys have a knack for balancing the monstrous with the delicate. While nothing about this is particularly daring, it still rules. There’s plenty of stylistic diversity on the album, ranging from the upbeat shuffle that begins “La Main D’electrique” to the callosal durge at the end of “Grimpeur.” Because of this, the drums get many chances to shine on The Electric Hand as they provide a backbone of unwavering groove throughout the changing styles. Although Ocoai’s creativity is within familiar parameters, their output is still stunningly compelling. They don’t try to dazzle listeners with grandiose experimentalism because they are perfectly capable of winning audiences over with their sheer knack for songwriting
You cane stream the album here.
Review by: Maxwell Heilman