oOoOO – Our Loving Is Hurting UsPosted by Tarin Fasano
The designations of screw-gaze and drag still get tossed around (at least the moniker rape-gaze didn’t stick), but the blogosphere seems to have settled on the term witch-house to describe ethereal, gothic electronica. Hyper-specific micro-genre classifications are multiplying; a tongue-in-cheek description of a particular sound can catch on and ride a buzz band into the spotlight. For example, the chill-wave genre was first identified as such on Hipster Runoff. Others believe the unfortunate name contributed to the genre’s short-lived success.
Fearing a similar fate, Christopher Dexter Greenspa denies being a central figure on the witch-house scene. Though he refuses the classification, oOoOO (pronounced “oh”) wholeheartedly embraces both the sonic and social aesthetics. The lurching splutter suggestive of malfunctioning machinery typical of post-industrial music is drowned in gothic ennui throughout Our Love is Hurting Us.
On Our Loving Is Hurting Us, oOoOO moves farther away from this abysmal trap-house slur popularized by DJ Screw during the 1990’s sizzurp fad, but the skeleton remains. The sound is syrupy and dazed. The wounded delicacy of the lyrics, accented by fluttering and flickering metallic hi-hats, provides more depth than just a rough anesthetized stomp. Aided by the unearthly lyricist Butterclock and her wispy, childlike croon, Our Loving is Hurting Us embraces echoed ambiance. Butterclock’s little voice wavers, “I can see it coming / I can see it…,” “Ooh-ooh / ooh-ooh-ooh / ooh-ooh / there’s no way back…”
Loss of innocence is integral to Our Loving Is Hurting Us, evident in the intimacy between the frail vocals and narcotic pulse. Opener “TryTry” begins stark and erratic; if it came on at a rave most people would loiter awkwardly unless they were at that point of delirium. The tune stammers and stumbles, but then the catchy synth pointillism of Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” sets in. At first the loop is difficult to place, but it’s mechanical and raunchy. Seriously tricky, oOoOO. “Starr” drops some groovy electric guitar licks, nostalgic of instrumental surf rock. This eclectic mosaic is surprisingly cohesive, but may malfunction on a full length album. If Our Loving Is Hurting Us was twice as long, oOoOO would have to unravel some of the ideas he’s only hinted at.
Standout track “Springs” (the only title that isn’t misspelled) features low, subtle bass. Shimmering hi-hats rattle and hiss like a snake, and the flighty synth riffs sparsely frame Butterclock’s lyrics. Her melody is dainty and coyly provocative, something to be sang with wide eyes and a half-smile. Much of the time oOoOO distorts and chops up vocal samples, but the collaboration with a live singer provides a graceful continuity. “Starr” is suffocating in gloom, and alludes more directly to DJ Screw’s muddled surrender to intoxication. “NoWayBack” ends the EP on a prettier, more melodic note. Fatalistic yes, but Butterclock doesn’t sound too upset about it.
But what if creepiness gets old? Witch-house has been trendy for a couple years now, will it be able to diversify and stay relevant much longer? Acts like oOoOO and Balam Acab indicate that it’s certainly a possibility. Our Loving Is Hurting Us is a good listen, less bogged down in itself than oOoOO’s earlier work.