Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Charles the Osprey drops math rock without losing the audience

December 3, 2010

Charles the Osprey should be proud to know that their vinyl of Consider was the last thing in my record player before I broke it. In fact, it was actually in my record player when I broke the needle (or stylus, according to Wikipedia). It deeply disheartens me, because I only got to listen to this excellent album two or three times on vinyl. When I get a new needle (and if you’ve ever owned a record player, you know how that goes), it will be the first thing that I listen to.

Charles the Osprey is two dudes: Rafael Ohli on guitar and Derek Lancioni on drums. They make instrumental math rock in the most spartan way possible: straight up. No pedals, no loops, no overdubs, nothing but straight performances. This makes the music they put out all the more amazing; sometimes it still sounds like Ohli is using a loop pedal, because his guitar playing is so complex. The only change in sound is from clean to distorted, which Ohli does with a channel switch. In spite of (and because of) these limitations, they crank out fascinating tunes that push the imagination of the listener.

Sometimes math rock can get esoteric and unfun, but Charles the Osprey never let that happen; knowing the limitations of their sound and of their listeners compel the members to change up the sounds, moods and tempos of their songs. Lots of patterned playing goes on, but never without melody (thank you, thank you, thank you). These guys know what’s up, and this album is proof of it.

If you’ve got a record player, the record itself is gorgeous: hunter green vinyl in a cardstock gatefold with great art and funky song titles. In short, I reiterate what I said at the beginning: when I get my record player fixed, this is going to be the first thing I play on it. It’s just that good. Best vinyl I’ve gotten all year.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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