band: Our Ceasing Voice album: That Day Last November year: 2013
genres: post-rock origin: Austria
genres: post-rock origin: Austria
REMEMBER LAST NOVEMBER?
Spending some minutes alone in the bedroom or taking a ride in a bus during night draws a lot of thoughts about what one has done in the past, about why the sorrow that many of us hold inside has been there for so many years and, of course, about too many memories… There are certainly good albums to be played in these situations. Austria based outfit Our Ceasing Voice has produced an album that seems to have been written in a night of hard memories of a day in specific, and appears to be thought to sound in your ears during the situations above described.
“That Day Last November”, the new album of Our Ceasing Voice is striking for many reasons. Nevertheless, everything has been made for the sake of developing the most overwhelming atmosphere possible. These guys have been forging this sound during several years, a clear evolution and unfurl of more inspiration can be found in this new album comparing it with its predecessor “When the Headline Hit Home”, the only other conception of the band that I had listened before. Labeled by the media and themselves as post-rock, Our Ceasing Voice used to sound like what we expected to sound from a post-rock act, with mostly instrumental songs, a nice usage of pedals and effects and the clear aim of developing atmospheric music. I’m pretty sure that something happened in the life of Sebastian Obermeir, the individual who writes most of the music and lyrics, that changed his days and it is worth expressing, filling this new album with the most poignant inspiration. This inspiration yields to a different post-rock sound with a less generic structure. That situation that changed everything should have happened in a day in last November…
Perhaps the immediate things that claim attention in this album are the vocals. It is not easy for a post-rock band to deal with this. In a genre that aims for a perfect synchrony between the music elements, sometimes vocals and lyrics just can´t engage in the atmosphere. Our Ceasing Voice has dared to add vocals to all the tracks in the album. The big hook for listeners to trust in this decision is the singer song-writer Matthew Ryan. After some mails, he acceded to join the recording of the album, collaborating with a couple of songs. Of course we remember how wonderfully the voice of Matthew Ryan fits with post-rock due to his collaboration with Hammock in the song “Like New Year’s Day”. Well, with this song in mind, and after taking a few listens to this album I’m sure all of you will conclude that Mattew Ryan should be a full-time member of a post-rock band. In addition, vocals in the album also feature the interesting whispers of Reinhard Obermeir, as well as some female vocals, growls and even gang shouts.
Vocals walk along with the layers of sounds, effects, charming and melancholic harmonies, demanding a polymorphic usage of vocals. Reinhard Obermeir delivers quite a powerful whisper, yet far from the deep whispers of cheesy gothic metal singers. In the opening track “Afterglow”, vocals just don’t seem to work. A close interaction between the music and vocals is aimed. However in this first song the changes of vocal styles just can’t fit with the mood of both lyrics and atmosphere. But give them another chance, things go better in the rest of the album. In the second track Matthew Ryan appears, his unique voice sounds amazing in both tracks he collaborated, whereas in “Until Your Chest Explodes” he seems to sing varying his tone just as the music in the song does, in the other one “The Anniversary” he is closer to the spoken word style. “Until Your Chest Explodes” is actually the less dark and bleak song, the less down-tempo as well. However, the cruel message in the lyrics Matthew Ryan wrote makes you think about how wrong we are living our lives.
Our Ceasing Voice are clever people, they have the gift of driving the listener through images hidden in our minds and plotted here in the form of soundscapes. The music is slow and throws a lot of gloom. The structure of most of the songs, though not taken as a tenet, is based in starting with a quiet atmosphere, melodies in clean guitars and some nice soft drones helped by keys and even acoustic guitars, then the sound rises and the shoegazer and other noisy effects are carried out. This is the climax of each song, and Our Ceasing Voice knows how to manipulate the vocal duties to reach this climax. Both Matthew Ryan and Obermeir speak rather than sing in this album, which I find it really interesting. The comparison with Matt Finney in his collaboration with Heinali is unavoidable. But, just as in the case of Matt Finney and his introspective writing, the spoken words are necessary when Obermeir relates the situation involved in that November. Perhaps the most spine-chilling example is the third track “One of These Nights”, where Obermeir whispers in a bleak and dying way, his voice almost breaks down while he’s speaking about really specific moments. I love this style of writing, much in the vein of Katatonia’s Jonas Renkse and 40 Watt Sun’s Patrick Walker. The album features lyrics that include even dates and time references, yet keeping some uncertainty for the listener’s interpretation; and here’s where one can link one’s own experiences and let oneself to pierce the memories.
The album is haunting as a whole. The formula developed by Our Ceasing Voice is effective and original; this is, in my opinion, their apex. It is recommended for you to play the album using either headphones or powerful speakers with high volume. Whereas using headphones you can feel the whispers in each ear and find delightful details in music, voices and lyrics, when you play it in high volume you can enjoy the powerful rasp whispers which, by means of a nice level of bass, will make the whole room to shake just like the drone and feedback elements in the music will bring. Perhaps you haven’t noticed it, but strange things and shit use to happen in each November, this album is perfect to dive into your memories and remember that day, last November…