As much as I like the simple charms of the straight-forward pop song, an anthemic slice of rock and roll or a clean-limbed indie salvo, these are, to some degree, quite an obvious way of making music. You could argue that the building blocks stay the same whilst forms change. Architecture might evolve but beneath its shape and function are still bricks and mortar. A sumptuous meal might be food for thought as well as sustenance, but it is still created, more often than not, from the same essential ingredients. And the same must be true of art and, especially, music. But surely there can be more to it than verse, chorus, lyrics and riffs? If you take a leaf from Ozurie’s book, the answer is assuredly in the affirmative.
Okay, it is easy to hear the echoes of the past here, and drawing a line back through post-rock and shoegaze to seminal bands such as Cocteau Twins is not hard to do. But that isn’t to say there is no reason to make music in this vein. In an age of production-line pop and box-ticking rock, of music which follows set templates and adheres to current fads and fashions, making music which defies the form, and offers an alternative, is a worthy pursuit.
Warping the guitar’s sound into something unexpected, Ozurie can blend moments of cavernous enormity with the deft and the delicate, the raw and the raucous with the ambient and floating, to scatter sky-searing crescendoes over dark and delicious lulls. To The Moon is awash with dynamic contrasts, opposites which attract, and strands of music that both contrast and complement. And if there are vocals in the conventional sense, they are subsumed by the music, drifting under the surface, often barely perceptible, and wilfuly so, voice as an instrument rather than any more direct form of communication.
Bend wanders through the same strange landscape, as much anathema to modern pop music as the track, which is its travelling companion. And that can only be a good thing. But, this time out, there is something more fragile at the heart of its razor-wire edges and abrasive sonic surface. And, as before, there is something beguiling in the way that it seems both meandering yet purposeful, drifting yet relentless.
These are not songs you can analyse too profoundly, although it seems that I have tried. Their joy and beauty do not come from a specific groove or a clever musical move; there is no hook or refrain, not in the usual sense anyway, no singalong lyric or inspired dance routine. Their real poignancy can only be seen when they are viewed holistically, in their entirety, from the top down as a single entity. Only then will you begin to understand the track’s true nature.
These are not songs that will change the musical landscape, but they provide an alternative to it, and who knows what that might lead to. No, they won’t change the world, but they will improve your day by having them in it. And that is enough for now.