Ohio – Color The Void (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

We know that Color The Void is great at the art of soundscaping. Both Second Guess and the more recent single, Time, display their skills in this area perfectly. And soundscaping is an art in its own right, one that goes above and beyond mere songwriting. If I can turn to my oft-used analogy of the artist’s canvas, songwriting might be seen as the technique of adding lines and colour to the blank space to create a recognisable and enjoyable image. Soundscaping is much more. It is the art of filling that space with all manner of shifting hues and blended colours, deft lines and delicate washes. It is also the art of making these tones and textures, on their own light and unassuming, add up to more than the sum of their parts.

And it is this balance of excess and understatement, this layering of gossamer sweeps into thunderous sonics, which the band is so good at. No, make that so great at.

We have heard the band make such cinematic statements before but here we hear them sonically brooding whilst they do so, and Ohio is a startling blend of this filmic sparkle and a darker, more reflective undercurrent. By the time we get to the first chorus when the guitars are really building billowing and bombastic sonic waves, they have really established a glorious soundtrack.

Sure, there are individual riffs and identifiable melodies to be found here, but to concentrate on those too closely would be like examining the individual lines and layers which make up a Turner painting rather than allowing yourself to be immersed in its wide-screen majesty. (See, painting analogies…they work a treat.) Like his wild and wonderful scenes, it is the expressive sonics, the imaginative musical landscapes and turbulent and tumbling sounds which are the heart of the music, something to be appreciated at a distance, holistically and in their entirety rather than picked apart at close quarters.

And like everything that has gone before, Ohio takes its time to work its magic. Quick hits and saccharine sonics might be good enough for the mainstream but this is something apart, something altogether different. Something purposefully slow and marvellously majestic. I’m not saying that there aren’t more discerning pockets of people to be found in the mainstream sector that won’t love what Color The Void does. I’m not saying that it is better than most of the music found in those quarters. Actually, I am saying that it is better than most of the music found in those quarters. Sure, all music opinion is subjective, but if you are reading this then you have sort of asked my opinion. And my opinion is that Ohio is better than most music found in the mainstream. There I said it!

It’s a song that is still building when other songs are already giving away the musical punchline or play-off. A song that is confident enough to move with considered pace knowing that it has the chops to carry the listener along with it. It is a song that is unconcerned whether it is living up to the listener’s expectations, it’s probably more concerned with whether the listener is living up to its expectations. Arrogant? Perhaps. But if it is, it is an arrogance borne in the knowledge that what it is delivering is something unique, special, game-raising…if not game-changing, that is leaving the competition behind and doing so with ease.

I have written about three tracks from Color The Void now, and each easily sets new benchmarks as it goes. And if a band can do that across three releases, imagine what they might be doing by the time they hit double figures. I, for one, can’t wait.

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