Of Colour - Auriga
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: July 5, 2009
It's unsettling when you see musicians from one of your favorite bands come together with other artists from various musical backgrounds when you're used to that certain sound, even more so when the backgrounds of the artists include such a wide variety like grindcore, metal, and indie. So when two members of one of my favorite indie bands, The Secret Theatre, blended together with a wide range of experience that comes with such various backgrounds, it was doubtlessly a worrisome prospect. But regardless of my first impressions it's certain there is no shortage of different musical brilliance and influence within Of Colour and it's first piece of work, Auriga.
"The Universe" works for the band exactly as it should, throwing the listener off for the first few seconds as it almost gives off a much more electronic vibe than what is carried on throughout the song. As Bee Armitage's vocals become clear and align perfectly with the tantalizing bass in the background that compliments the consistent drumbeat and perfectly laced guitar riffs, the ear candy is instantaneously noticeable and appreciated. Small samples of strings appear at the beginning and end to complete the overall spacey atmosphere of the song that simply sweeps you away.
Of Colour proves itself not to simply be a slave to the tired formula that bands in its vein have fallen into before with "As The Night Explodes." Starting off with a track that simply feels odd with its use of exotic tools like an Australian didgeridoo (the equivalent of a wooden trumpet), hand claps, and a mesmerizing drum beat that is reminiscent of Savage Garden's "The Animal Song," it almost feels out of place if it were not for the anticipation it builds up for the rest of the song. Soon after the interesting intro, the song explodes into a rainbow of sounds that mix Armitage's high wails of vocal power over some of the finest drumming laid down by Shane O'Daniel that inarguably leads the track and becomes the strongest aspect of it. The song closes as an odd-man-out for the album as chaotic yelling is sprayed across crisp guitars as echoes of Armitage's vocals play out over the chaos as the song ends on a undeniably original note.
As well as having a rather high-pitched singer, Of Colour's opening riff on "Black Vespers" takes a leaf from Circa Survive's playbook it sounds as though it could have appeared in a b-side from On Letting Go. This track becomes a sleeper hit for the EP, as it's rather short compared to the rest of the tracks on the album and is unfortunately placed between two extremely strong tracks. Despite its unfortunate placement and short display of power, guitarists Sterman and Austin Newell display their talent at complimenting the chaos of sound with perfect effect placement in this song in particular.
By the time the fourth track is playing on a normal EP, you can usually assume to see all the bells and whistles that an band has to show by now. But "I Still Exist" manages to convince you that Of Colour has simply been playing with your head thus far and has shown nothing of their true potential yet on Auriga. It's unimaginably easy to forget about the fantastic drumming just heard on "As The Night Explodes" when hearing the rhythmic pounding that Daniel manages to lay out to guarantee a perfect pounding in your ears that isn't likely to be forgotten, not to mention the gentle guitars that play out as Armitage opens the song displaying the finest vocal work he seems to have been hiding until now. His voice starts as a small whisper that changes pitch frequently throughout the song and doesn't slave to the wail that he has seemed to confine himself to until this point. As one of his real weaknesses was his enslavement to his same tone over and over again in past songs, it's nice to see such a difference in style and approach and makes it overall a much more pleasing listen and helps him take a more leading role in the song, rather than take a backseat to the excellent instrumentals.
The overall feel of the EP feels a little too glossy at times, in particular with the moments where it almost seems to have an electronic edge at several moments that doesn't quite fit. However, the crisp sound compliments the edge the band seems to be going for and anything more raw than what appears would take away from the clean vision the band creates for the listener.
Armitage proves himself to be a brilliant writer, at times appearing more to be singing loose poetry than structured lyrics designed for the music that surrounds it. Imagery is a large part of what makes this EP so appealing, and lines like "The room is moving with my chest/ and I am blinking on and off with the lights in my eyes" serve as guides to help you be enveloped in the tornado of creative essence that Armitage manages to consume you in. Although there are weak points where there seems to be little thought into how the lyrics sounded and more that they could flow naturally into each other, but it makes little difference as the seamless aspect of the lyrics helps the album keep the environment it creates for the listener.
This is an excellent first effort from a band that does well in proving that the past does not always determine the future of what a person can do. Taking from all the various musical backgrounds present, Of Colour has created Auriga in a way that takes its audience and paints a picture of brilliant colour (see what I did there?) and diversity. It's undeniably attractive and like a beautiful painting or piece of art, it pulls you in instantly and refuses to let go. When it comes to suggesting this album to someone, I can do no more than reply to the last spoken words on "I Still Exist".
"Is anyone there, can you hear me?"
We can hear you Of Colour, and are certainly listening for more.