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OCOAI: The Electric Hand

Hailing from Tennessee, the 5-piece instrumental band OCOAI have been called a number of things, such as "post rock", "doom metal", and "Pink Floyd killing a dinosaur" (that's a good one). Suffice it to say that nobody has a clue what to call them, and that is very much to their advantage. The Electric Hand, their sophomore album is going to further perplex those that feel the need to put language before music. Cool summer days, barren wastelands, deep oceanic rumbles, heavenly highs, moments of absolute elation, and decades of despair are all to be found in the images conjured up by this album.

'Waking Fear' opens softly with a clean, delayed guitar and a mournful cello line, the sombre melancholic melody of cello bringing a certain colour to the composition that emerges time and again throughout the album. Suddenly overthrown by a wall of chaos, the war-like sounds wipe the slate clean for the closing clean guitar chord that rings out over the sound of a train gunning into the distance. One minute into 'Niveus Hills' and the album is lifted skyward with colossal cymbal-drenched chords, the wave crashing into a heavy groove riff that is as forceful as it is majestic. The lead work of the thirteen minute 'Grimpeur' throughout this track is breath-taking. Utterly beautiful, it's straight out of the David Gilmour book on melodic texture and blues feel. Opening with a beautiful acoustic guitar piece counterpointed with a melancholic cello melody and a slide guitar line that drifts through the reverberant breeze. Epic in structure and featuring suitably grand Yes-styled crescendos and lavish landscapes as broad as the horizon is deep, this is a magnificent and majestic instrumental. 'Somnium' toys with eastern scales and ambience, blending in elements of Pink Floyd's synth experimentation similar to 1975's 'Welcome to the Machine' and almost acts as an introduction to the heavy riff-driven piece 'La Main d'Electrique' that is similar in muscular rage to Pink Floyd's 'One Of These Days', the hard-hitting slide guitar melody played over the organ-heavy coda is laden with prog-rock grandeur. 'Marchand de Sommeil' slows the pace down and warms the atmosphere a little with its open expanse and gentle guitar melody that is soon lifted into more passionate skies, the blues-infused melody weeps over an emotive rollercoaster of a piece. The dirty bass, thumping drums and the eastern scales in the coda are particularly outstanding. 'Marchand de Sommeil' is a masterful piece on a par with the aforementioned 'Grimpeur'. And 'Morte Audaciter', in its solitary, mournful melancholy, is a beautifully vast and vacant track that closes the album with a sense of empty futility.

The Electric Hand is an overwhelming album made up of intelligent and emotionally charged compositions. With not a word said, OCOAI have delivered an instrumental album that is breath-taking in its ability to capture and conjure a range of sonic images that are at once absorbing and cathartic. Highly recommended.

Track Listing

  1. Waking Fear
  2. Niveus Hills
  3. Somnium
  4. Grimpeur
  5. La Main d'Electrique
  6. Morte Audaciter
  7. Marchand de Sommeil

Added: August 5th 2011
Reviewer: Jason Guest
Related Link: Band MySpace
Hits: 2568
Language: english

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OCOAI: The Electric Hand
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-08-05 12:31:52
My Score:

In the promotional e-mail I received for the new Ocoai album, the band was described as "everything from post rock to doom metal to Pink Floyd killing a dinosaur". Surely unique enough to pique my curiosity, this tag actually turned out to be surprisingly accurate. The Electric Hand really does defy genre characterization enough to warrant such a description... well, maybe except the "killing a dinosaur" part. Ocoai's unique mix of genres, parred with some of the most stunning instrumental compositions I've heard in a long time, makes The Electric Hand an absolute winner in my book, and an essential purchase for any post metal fan.

Ocoai's The Electric Hand is difficult to pin down to genre tags. Post metal is clearly the best description I can think of, seeing that Ocoai borrows plenty of influence from post rock/metal, but they have an underlying Pink Floyd-ish tone that sets them apart from the genre's pioneers. Combine that with touches of ambient, doom metal, and traditional progressive rock, and you have an album unlike all others. The cello parts courtesy of Cody Ledford add an extra dose of melancholy in the mix, and really complete the compositions. The Electric Hand is anything but your standard instrumental post metal album, and should be further investigated by anyone who's tired of all the "clone bands" out there. Ocoai's one-of-a-kind sound, parred with stunningly beautiful compositions and technically astounding musicianship, makes this album a winner on nearly every front. I don't know if it's possible to listen to a song like "Grimpeur" without feeling the hair on the back of your neck stand up and noticing your arms covered in goosebumps. That track alone makes The Electric Hand well-worth the price of admission. The raw, yet still crisp and powerful, production also suits the music perfectly and sounds terrific.

The Electric Hand took a little while for me to fully appreciate, but it's definitely worth all the time it deserves. Seldom do I come across a post metal album with this much originality, sheer beauty, and convincing power - that alone makes this worth all the time in the world. Ocoai have really hit a home run this time around, and hopefully The Electric Hand gets all the attention it deserves in the post metal community. 4 stars are well-deserved here. I'm very curious to hear what these Tennessee juggernauts have up their sleeves next.

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