Album Review: Subliminal Listening by Bob Ohrum

Album cover: Subliminal Listening by Bob OhrumBob Ohrum, whose 2010 release Elevated I recently reviewed, returns with a reissue of his 2005 album Subliminal Listening, also on the Relaxed Machinery label.

This album is Bob’s love letter to his hometown of Buffalo, NY. It plays like an urban version of the Solitudes nature series, built on unprocessed field recordings and mechanical drones, embellished with darklit synth chords whose tone and texture sometimes recall Pink Floyd. The effect is that of a city-noir soundscape at 3am, with your back window open just before (or after) the rain. The sense of urban location is uncanny and – unaccountably – mesmerizing. It doesn’t make sense, it just is.

The opening track, Day of the Locust, was also the first one recorded, and immediately establishes the focus (as it did for the project’s creation). We land suddenly in Bob’s environs and begin taking it all in, getting our bearings. The breathy drone expands and shimmers, pulsing slowly. The place is alive.

As with Elevated, a few simple elements are all Ohrum needs to carve out his cityscapes. Overpass Symphony #1 features a drone slowly oscillating on two notes, punctuated by some resonant rock-on-bridge-girder clanks, with a pair of recurring, climbing notes hinting at something symphonic. Nightwalk has a softer drone with muted sirens and a lightly pitch-bent synth chord used to good effect. This night is bristling with activity, slow but not so quiet.

Subliminal Listening by Bob Ohrum

The two-part, 15-minute title track is my favorite, with a two-part droning chord, birds and thunder. Its second part section is more lit up, with a more energetic drone chord, as we see a break in the cloud cover. To my regret, the two-minute Rain cuts out too soon, just as it was getting nicely established, with its industrial atmosphere and two-tone line.

The closing Super Secret Bonus Track with Crickets, after two minutes of silence, brings a nice, breathy drone chord, light strings and crickets sounding like a big rainstick.

Kevin Pletcher’s photography captures the spirit of the music perfectly; it’s a visceral, intuitive connection. The sculpture is by American artist John Vasser House, a lost piece that Kevin has restored, in a way, by publishing it here.

“Subliminal” means “beneath the threshold of consciousness”; you can listen to this album as quiet background, let it get under your skin and color your space. If you’re in the city – especially if you’re alone, on a rainy night – these urban atmospherics can be your soundtrack, bringing the city’s slow, nocturnal pulse right into your listening space.

Subliminal Listening is available by download from CD Baby, and is coming soon on CDR from Hypnos.

Photos by Kevin Pletcher; sculpture by John Vasser House

About these ads

, , , , , , ,

  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Phillip Wilkerson

Ambient & Space Music

Art by Gaia Orion

Visionary artwork that participates in the world of conscious change

Hypnagogue Podcast

Your guide to new worlds of music.

inbetweenthelinesbookseries

A great WordPress.com site

LEIGH DIPROSE

Some things in life are just meant to be enjoyed

Travels with the Blonde Coyote

Follow the Blonde Coyote and see more of the world!

draw and shoot

Shooting photographs, drawing lines...

esotericbeadweaver

Creative Inspiration, Philosophical Musings, and the Psychology of Beadweaving

Uprooted Magnolia

I am a freelance Photographer born and raised in the Southeast. I have uprooted my life in Macon Georgia for a new life as an unlikely cowgirl in love with a handsome cowboy in Wyoming. My 12 year old orange tabby, Matilda, has joined us. I hope you enjoy our photo journal on life, love, and the spirit of Wyoming.

Fellirium

Palace of sound

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 351 other followers

%d bloggers like this: