Wondering what plunging fully into an ocean of fuzz would feel like is where my mind lingers nearly daily at this point in my life. Oh Hiroshima have been among the legions of bands I’ve chosen to cry my eyes out to on a somewhat regular rotation for years now. Beginning in 2006 in Kristinehamn, Sweden, the duo, comprised of Jakob Hemström on guitar, vocals, and keyboards and Oskar Nilsson on drums, have been drawing up post-rock that hovers just south of angry that aligns with my brand of catharsis. I’m sure that’s what’s kept them returning to the studio every few years to record what sounds like angels being haunted by regrets and woe.
Their four-track debut EP Empty Places Full Of Memories and follow-up Tomorrow showed the twinkling of genius that truly flourished on the debut album Resistance Is Futile. 2015 saw the release of In Silence We Yearn and I was officially a gigantic fan. So many nights were spent awake with friends smoking cigarettes and staring deep into the stars with this playing in the background in a derelict town in Kansas. Their next album Oscillation is honestly just as good, but it’s hard to not return to In Silence We Yearn. The heart just wants what it wants.
Nour, the opening track on the duo’s latest album Myria, comes on with a steady march that juggles the sounds of mournful and oddly hopeful. Vocals so rich they feel dropped into the instruments, like dominos collapsing one after the other, as a deep fuzz vibrates my inner ear shaking it clean of debris. Rolling drums cloak how deeply vast this soundscape truly goes. It’s only upon repeated listens that I begin picking everything up.
Veil Of Certainty has a simmering anger planted deep within droning riffs that emerge after a blissful opening. Speckled with horns and power chords, we hear the drums growing confrontational. The music feels at war with itself. All Things Pass has an even longer build-up and a slower pace that drenches every second, making it feel like a crawl through mud. A hope fueled power radiates every second. The war is still raging on, but each section feels like it understands what movements are coming and acts in anticipation.
As close as these lads could realistically get to a jangly and jovially mood, Ascension begins. A plucked guitar begins a more minimalist sound than what we’ve been hearing while still dripping with reverb. Hemström’s vocals begin so listless and sad and are so buried in the mix, that hearing them feels like eavesdropping. Guitars grow and collapse in trippy dimensions until the whole piece opens up by the midpoint and loses any sense of shyness. It’s now opened and ready to be seen as it flourishes with beauty.
Guitars grow and collapse in trippy dimensions…
Manically strummed Humane feels so sinister. Lyrics about staring at the heavens, requesting, and then demanding, celestial beings to change and bend to their will are hauntingly delivered. Like some godlike deity requiring the physical realm to change by a simple demand. Drums crash against the guitars like waves. And I can see myself in front of a vast mess of unbridled fuzz as it aches for me to enter. And I ache for it.
Tundra brings my mind’s eye to an endless system of corridors. Notes hold on just a bit too long to sound instantly pleasing and force your mind to really inspect them. A vacuum of echoey thoughts creep into my brain as the guitars go spasmodic. Creating a vague idea of whatever a safe home is, only to destroy its hallways with a flood. The depleting carnage leaving snarled walls and memories that bring heartache.
Ending Myriad is the lovely Hidden Chamber. There’s a swagger blended with hatefulness here. Like a revenge threat delivered in a well. And once that hate is bled out, beautiful violins cleanse the aura as they build and build until they break open the sky and drown me in thick dense fuzz, then Nour starts everything again.
Music is a nest we can really run free inside of. Oh Hiroshima have added to that so much. I hope they know that as it’s not just me, but so many people, need that encompassing escape. Myriad is the continued work of a band and a sound I needed to hit me at the exact right moment.
Scribed by: Richard Murray