Hollow Branches – Okanagana Waves

I have to admit that it’s somehow unusually pleasant feeling when you don’t know which genre label to use in order to tag someone’s music, no matter if the band already did this job for you. Hollow Branches is a two-man project comprised of guitarist, vocalist and percussionist Robert Osgood from Portland, Oregon and Marius Sjøli, a guitar player, pianist and organist from Oslo, Norway.

Now, to return to the opening statement of this review, the guys use to tag their work as ambient rock, what is not wrong comparing to the content on the record, but you have to be careful when taking their orientation for considering. Not like I am trying to mess up things additionally, but what’s behind of Okanagana Waves is a good example how simple and complex fit each other.

After two EPs in 2009, Words are Fire and Anchored in Sleep (recorded with the assistance of Jason Walton (Agalloch) on bass), with Okanagana Waves these men manage to broaden their influential spectre adding plenty of new elements in the structure. Not to forget to mention, the bass lines for OW were provided by Mathew Kennedy of Phideaux.

Speaking of influences, these fellas mention Talk Talk, David Sylvian, Landberk, Sigur Ros, Nick Cave, Van Der Graaf Generator, to name but a few. Maybe that’s why I wrote above to be careful when thinking of ambient rock. Exploring themes as diverse as anxiety, slepticism and the indifferent beauty of nature, Hollow Branches comes as a bond between two diametrically different parts.

The overall impression of Okanagana Waves is that it’s filled with easy going soundwalls, with a steady pace provided by deep atmospherics, hypnotizing vocals, piercing sounds of the organ and dreamy acoustic guitar and piano passages. Take „new“ Anathema and give it a progressively darker note, maybe you’ll get what I am talking about.

The title track features T.E. Moore of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, who provided a recording of an Okanagana Bella cicada (also known as Mountain Cicada). The most notable parts of the album besides the title track come in the shape of the opening number Rumor the Past, the most dynamic Pareidolia, Travelers and the closing piece Afterward, which shines in all its glory by employed piano, organ and cello.

The album’s seance-like flow is probably what makes this record stands out. If you find yourself behind these lines, Okanagana Waves has a great potential to become one of the albums you return to on a regular base.

Tracklist:

01. Rumor the Past
02. Habitual
03. Pareidolia
04. Weave the Architect
05. Travelers
06. Okanagana Waves
07. Afterward

Line-up:

* Robert Osgood  - vocals, guitar, programming, percussion
* Marius Sjøli – guitar, piano, organ, backing vocals
* Mathew Kennedy – bass

Links:

http://www.strixrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/hollowbranches
http://www.facebook.com/HollowBranches

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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