Review Summary: “Don't you want to know” - “Huh, hah, huh, hah!”
Ωracles seem to have deliberately chosen to portrait themselves in the nerdiest way possible. In fact, it is quite easy not to take them seriously, for a lot of reasons: peculiar spelling, drug-infused photo shoots, turgid band bios (“the washes of synth and tape, in a blissful yet somber warmth like a bonfire on a pitchblack and deserted plain”), overblown vintage videos or obscure musical references create the image of a band enamored with ridiculous hipster-chic rather than their music. Interestingly, unlike many other bands hiding behind flower power flourish, these guys actually have something to say.
Much like fellow German producer Roosevelt
, Ωracles have had quite a bit of luck meeting important people. With only one Soundcloud upload (EP centerpiece “Gazing from Without”) on hand, the band were signed to Cloud Hill Records, where they made friends with Pete Doherty. It's probably his admiration that brought them a support slot for the Libertines
in Copenhagen and increased exposure in German and international music press (which says a lot about how slavishly said press follows everything Doherty does).
Describing the sound of the Stanford Torus EP is not easy due to the band’s pronounced inclination towards piling layers of synth, percussion and noise on every track. All of Ωracles’s members have had some kind of experience with creating left-field music before - drummer Niklas Wandt as part of an improvisation quartet creating tracks with titles like “Operation Anal Freedom”, guitarist and singer Nils Herzogenrath with his DJ/drone/just-about-everything project Vomit Heat or singer and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Gottmanns with his former band Beat!Beat!Beat!
. But even more indicative of their sound is their varied taste of music that focuses on the weirder sides of the 70s - psychedelia, krautrock, afrobeat and a lot more that passed unnoticed the ears of western musicians.
First single “Gazing From Without” is a good example for their eclecticism - started by unidentifiable noises, the track quickly launches into a kaleidoscopic neo-funk groove. Although loaded with considerable amounts of synths, the song never loses its organic sound. Electronic elements balance themselves with percussion and guitars that rarely stick out but smoothly complement the rhythms coming from the drums. Elsewhere, they do not fare that well with their production tricks - opener “Untitled”, with its obtrusive vocal chopping, borrows a little to much from Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place”, distracting from an otherwise appealing track.
What is so striking is how evened out and well-produced these six tracks sound. Being no outstanding instrumentalists, the members of Ωracles instead opted to build on their knack for sounds and arrangements, and it certainly shows in their songs. Although they are no instant payoffs, tracks like “Journey Back To Dawn” and “Melt Tonight” succeed because the instruments, including Joshua and Nils’s vocals, constantly feed each other lines instead of pushing themselves into the foreground. The latter in particular feeds on its layers of melodies and the interplay of fluid bass lines and groovy drums. Considering the musical drought that plagued the local independent music scene for the past few years, it is surprising that such an ambitious outing comes from a German band. If recent concerts are any indication, it is fair to expect more from this quintet.