REVIEW: Oberon - "Anthem"

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

AnthemNorway finds itself as home to indie label Incidental Music, a driving vehicle for the experimental music of Oberon. One of Oberon's latest releases, Anthem, is a seven track recording that explores the hypnotic effect of music, moving beyond mere "mood altering" into a much more eclectic realm. You'll find elements of horror movies, subtle chord lapses and haunting melodies throughout the body of work.

Anthem, according to Oberon, takes influence from Ayn Rand, novelist, and Kenneth Anger (Lucifer Rising), while not being pure adaptations of such. You'd be hard pressed to find these influences, besides titles themselves, but I don't care where it comes from - the final product is nonetheless mesmerizing. Stepping about as close to "garage band style" as an electronic/experimental outfit can get, Oberon recorded the album in one simultaneous sweep. The result? The pure capturing of the hypnotic moods rather than just a rehearsed adaptation.

Synthesizer melodies used in Anthem (track 1) are slidingly haunting. As more tracks play, it's apparent that Oberon wishes to retain this haunting quality throughout Anthem, although at times, such as during Byzantine (track 3), the static background chords can get repetitive. When All Is Sorrow also uses a similar static background from the get go. Much of Anthem relies only on subtle manipulations of pitches to drive you, wearing minimalism like a badge on its breast. Dreams of the Sun takes a new tack, utilizing what sounds like a hammered dulcimer. Some of the dulcimer strikes sound like it's being done with a two ton anvil, giving some of the notes a powerful arrival. Later it once again moves to a mostly static and growing, windy chorale.

To the typical listener, Anthem is definitely bland. But those of us that appreciate the subtleties of nature with wonderment will find much to enjoy within Oberon's work as it takes you on a dream-inducing and hauntingly hypnotic journey. It's one of those albums that will have a different meaning for different people - and different meanings for one person sometimes I'm sure. And this is a testament to Oberon's "capturing" of a mood instead of a bad, rehearsed "rendition" of one. Says Oberon, "Keeping it pure."

Post: Incidental Music, Makeveien 71, 4049 Hafrsfjord, Norway

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