Not to worry, good people: I got my column back from The Donald. He had me duct-tape-tied to a pipe inside an abandoned warehouse bathroom in Atlantic City. It’s alright though, Chris Christie saved me in a strange turn of events. That warehouse is where he happens to go to punch-dance to 80s power ballads when no one’s looking.
The whole ordeal convinced me that writing about American music was getting me into too much trouble. For that reason, today’s spotlight is shining on a bright young artist based out of Berlin, Germany named Ori Alboher, or just Ori.
I came across Ori’s music while on a Bandcamp binge of melodic and ambient experimental recordings. The only release that is available is his 2012 album, Unwind. This album is beyond captivating upon first listen. It contains the aptitude to resonate with the part of your brain that desires to be haunted. It’s dark, introspective, contemplative, and reflective, and at no point compromises its own honesty.
This music is somewhere in between folk, electronica, transcendental, and shoegaze. The album itself is at its best when it masterfully combines these paradigms. I love the third track on the album “Haman” because of this. The song begins with a voice becoming drowned out by acoustic guitar. The guitar slowly becomes more intense with an absolutely beautiful harmonious melody taking the lead. At peak intensity, Ori’s voice enters the mix. The lyrics are tough to discern, but it’s the melody that takes you in, especially as he adds a layer of vocal harmony over the main line. The song adds the element of experimentation as he samples his own voice to offer the illusion of back-masking.
The album’s emotion convinces me that every aspect of experimentation was implemented for a definitive reason. I find that attention to detail very impressive, and it makes for a fascinating arrangement. The song “Revolt” takes me by surprise every time I listen to Unwind straight through. Not only is this track an incredible showcase of Ori’s angelic falsetto, but it also shows off his production capabilities. It sounds as if each vocal line was recorded, and turned backwards. The small clicks that are audible in between vocal lines make the melody sound like an alien transmission. The audio is split down the two stereo paths to create a call-and-response of melodies, presenting a setting in disarray, only for all of the voices to come together around 0:54 in a joint chorus made of only Ori. What began as Gregorian turned Renaissance before our ears.
Despite hailing from Berlin, Ori seems to implement his thoughts on American culture, primarily in the track “2010.” Some ambient violins and piano chords set the stage for a monologue to come through the mix of a man with an American accent. This man speaks of life in 2010, where war meets peace, borrowing from our children, and why our sick “can’t go to hospitals because health don’t care, don’t care, don’t care with a Capitol D.C.” This monologue is clever, and I can most certainly appreciate this creativity. On a political lever however, I think KXSU needs the Donald to come back to take this one on.
I can listen to “Soul Bird” over and over again. I believe this track best represents the imagination and production skills Ori uses to craft.
The first half of “Soul Bird” is a dreamy and dark compilation of gorgeous harmonies and chords. This could either be the theme song for Heaven or for Hell, but it’s tough to tell which. An eerie sample of what sounds like an old folk song splices the track into two segments. The second of which picks up the beat and introduces a fast-paced drum rhythm and strange samplings. This is a release of Ori’s demons, as the song steadily inclines and ends abruptly.
Let’s get in bed with Ori, shall we?
Ori Alboher grew up playing around the local music scene of Jerusalem, Israel. There, his popularity expanded and led to sold out shows in Jerusalem’s prominent venues. Following the release of Unwind, Ori moved to Berlin, where he continues to create music and play concerts. When he plays live, Ori utilizes his keyboard, synthesizer, loop pedal, and reverberated voice to recreate the vast soundscapes he makes throughout Unwind. He doesn’t seem to be playing anywhere near Seattle in the future, but let me know if y’all want to start a petition.
Here’s a video of Ori’s live performance. It’s an incredible clip that happens to be upside-down. Apologies.
Ori is yet another example of how much inventiveness and ingenuity bedroom musicians are able to tap. I understand that commercial studios are in grave danger of losing business because of kids’ inclination to do it all on their own, and I understand that many older icons (without mentioning Dave Grohl’s name) in music are trying to push back on this inclination in order to preserve this portion of the industry, however I believe this is a stage in the evolution of music, and an exciting twist to the status quo.
JASON McCUE | KXSU Reporter