Ov Pain - The Churning Blue of Noon
Released 2021 by it records
Ov Pain is the Dunedin / Melbourne duo of Renee Barrance and Tim Player. They describe themselves as a psychedelic experimental darkwave band. While Barrance takes over the synths, Player plays the drums, sampler, and sax while both are on vocal duties. They formed in 2016 and released their self-titled debut album in 2017. After touring Germany, they settled down in Melbourne, Australia where they quickly became a part of the independent and underground live scene. They have been busy releasing other ventures such as the tapes “Spur” and “Nothing Immune”, the single ‘Under the Sun of Seville’, and a split with Quell titled “On Delusions”, as well as touring in between their debut album and now. And, now, in the present, Ov Pain have released their sophomore album “The Churning Blue of Noon”. While Ov Pain gets a lot right with “The Churning Blue of Noon”, one improvised instrument on the album ruins a good many of the songs and deteriorates the integrity of the album as a whole.
The first song on the album is titled ‘Meanness in the Least of Creatures’ and begins out like a wicked ritual complete with compelling drones and crystalline echoes. However, around the one-minute mark this god-awful saxophone plays out without tune or respect for the integrity of the song; it throws off the ritualistic set-up ‘Meanness in the Least of Creatures’ initially went for. This lasts until the two-minute and twenty second mark when we’re left with nothing but the fascinating drones and tribal-like drum beat that makes me feel as if I’m in medieval Scotland. Pair that with the hypnotic vocals from both Barrance and Player and I received a, for the most part, wonderfully dark track.
The second track on the album ‘Excess and Expenditure’ continues with the deep and heavy drones and crystalline effects which make it slightly repetitive since it continues on right from the previous track. However, the lively percussion and solo, echoey vocals from Barrance allows this track a unique identity. The manic drum work towards the end of the track also lent a sense of impending doom and the saxophone implementation this time around worked wonderfully.
The experimental saxophone that starts around the one-minute and forty second mark on ‘Winds of Sorrow’ sounds like a joke; it again throws off the mood of the song and sounds as if a child got ahold of the instrument and just began to huff and puff into it. Unfortunately, this unorthodox abuse of the instrument lasts until around the three-minute and forty second mark before its dialed back a notch. It’s a shame, too, as the otherwise earthy sound to the track beforehand, mixed with the sounds of windchimes, and electronic line was quite enjoyable. Even the ending of the track has something going for it, as the keys played at the outro sound like something out of an old school horror film.
I have similar complaints about ‘Ever the Twain Shall Chafe’ as I did ‘Winds of Sorrow’. As much as I was getting into the tribalistic darkwave beat that was being built up, the improvisation with the saxophone just brutalized the song to a pulp. It doesn’t go along with the beat nor does it fit within the realm of anything going on with Ov Pain; it’s quite difficult to listen to. ‘Ritual In the Dark Part 1’ has a similar set-up as many of the other songs, containing equal parts ritualistic drones, spoken word vocals, and experimental textures. It doesn’t suffer as much from the saxophone as previous songs did, but be warned: around the two-minute and forty-four second mark, there’s a high-pitched note that comes from the sax that’s unbearable.
The next song, ‘Daytripping’, sounds more like an experimental post-rock ballad more than anything else. Lots of raw instruments but still with similar sounding drones in comparison to the rest of the album, it’s a good song that I enjoyed thoroughly throughout multiple plays on the album. The final song on the album, ‘Ritual in the Dark Part 2’, continues to use a similar sound palette in comparison to ‘Ritual in the Dark Part 1’, ‘Meanness in the Least of Creatures’, and ‘Winds of Sorrow’. It’s not terrible, minus some bits from the sax, but it’s not great either.
And so my time with “The Churning Blue of Noon” comes to an end. What I find so frustrating about this album is the fact that lying underneath it all, there are some wonderful ideas in the album. The ritualistic drones; the raw, post-rock like drums; the spoken word delivery of the vocals; even the windchimes add an element of mysticism to the album. To further that statement, both ‘Excess and Expenditure’ and ‘Daytripping’ are quite good alone. However, time-and-time again was the album ruined by the saxophone. Whether or not it was due to improvisation or a solidly thought-out plan, the saxophone is what obliterates many of the songs on the album. It’s out of place and ruins any mood set by Ov Pain in the first place. These are good ideas ruined by one instrument, but one instrument that’s used consistently on each of the songs for a major portion or another. Despite any praises that I may have for this album, it’s that sole aspect of the album that assures I won’t be returning to it anytime soon. For that, I give this album a five out of ten.
This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page.Aug 23 2021
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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