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Stand-Out Track: No. 1, “OV,” the most epic number yet from the all-instrumental D.C.-founded/Asgard-dwelling speed-prog duo.
The pair’s previous recorded output offered good examples of Mick Barr’s spasmodic fretwork and Josh Blair’s indefatigable drumming. However, it wasn’t until “OV” that the physical punishment inflicted upon the listener during a live show was accurately re-created: Blair’s hyperkinetic percussion alone could bring on a heart attack, and “OV” is a perfect showcase for Barr’s seizure-inducing guitar playing, which jumps between jazz, prog, and metal within any given 10-second span. Plus, at 45:43, “OV” is the album’s only track.
Musical Motivation: When the uninitiated are confronted with “OV,” they may merely hear two preternaturally talented musicians mimicking a skipping CD for three-quarters of an hour. Orthrelm, however, intends the experience to be more of a mystical ritual. “There is a spiritual element to this,” Barr says. “Our musical repetition is inspired by the Moroccan oboe players the Master Musicians of Jajouka.”
And though the spastic piece may sound like an experimental freakout, Barr states that the song was “definitely thought out beforehand. I’d say it’s less than 1 percent improvised.”
Still, Barr admits that “OV” is an intimidating listening experience. “Life is some heavy shit,” he says by way of explanation, “and I don’t want to make some lightweight shit.”
—David Dunlap Jr.