The Great Upheaval by Oikos

Release date: January 13, 2017
Label: Envelope Collective and Knockturne Records

The Great Upheaval is a soundtrack for our calamitous times. Starting with it’s western inspired guitar licks and ending on creaks of doom, listening to this album was an journey for the senses. It was produced and written by one of Oikos’ founding members, Rafael Femiano and released as a collaboration between Envelope Collective and Knockturne Records.

The first track, ‘Ravaged, burned’, seems to bring the listener slowly through a smoldering landscape on waves of shimmering delay and reverb. The siren like sound slowly comes out of the shadows and as the song progresses, seems to grow louder in its cry. Intensity built on repetitive layers, where at each interval, a new sound is added ever so slightly. Something is coming and it doesn’t seem good but you want to continue.

It leads to an equally great track, a little more menacing than the first, as alluded to in the name of the track, ‘Menace and Portent’. The siren like sound continues and the pace of the song is a little faster compared to the first. The siren sound reminded me of the WWII air-raid sirens, especially near the end of the track. The hard-hitting drumming of Felipe Pavón, introduced three quarters of the way, was perfectly placed.

‘Joik’, is different from the other tracks and smartly placed in the middle of the album. A bridge or sorts. The beginning of the track leads with an ambient drone which is quickly followed by a head banging beat. The beat trails in an echoing decay and the track progresses to a darker place, created by deep and resounding drones and ending with delayed sounds.

The fourth track, ‘Marrow of Prayer’, might be the most dramatic and emotional of all the tracks. Guitars and strings converge with the weaving in and out of guest musician, Xavier Castroviejo’s chanting and the continued use of heavy drones. The listener is in it and there’s no way out of it. Very reminiscent of GY!BE.

It then leads into the finale track, ‘Arch’. Slow moving, creaking as if you are on a ship at sea under the pitch black of the night. The low drone of the upright bass is perfectly added and followed by steady drums. The drums signal that you have arrived and the low tones of the bass accentuates the darkness of the moment. Ever so slowly, each layer fades and we are left with the delayed guitar and soon just the labored creaking sound, signalling you are here.

This is a great album. I enjoyed listening to it both with or without headphones but through headphones, the journey was something else.

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