Ofeliadorme - 'Bloodroot'
Before hearing this release I honestly had never heard of Ofeliadorme; but I should have.
The 4-piece from Bologna, Italy, are probably one of the most interesting new bands I've encountered in recent times. It's hard to give their genre a label. There's times where it's folk-indie inspired casual listening, but other times where spacey-fuzz rock makes you want to awkward sway in a crowd of stoners, but then there's the times where Ofeliadorme create some of the most beautifully dramatic pieces of music you're likely to come across. 'Bloodroot' follows their first full-length release in 2011 titled 'All Harm Ends Here'. I gave this a listen in between listening to 'Bloodroot', and the natural progression is noticeable; though their first release is very, very solid.
If you're from Australia, and most of our readers are, then you'll most likely know of Sydney four-piece The Jezabels. Ofeliadorme feel to me a lot like an Italian Jezabels, but with more drama and less indie. Similar to The Jezabels, they are all very accomplished musicians; somewhat amazingly, they all play different instruments on different tracks.
This is definitely at play over the course of 'Bloodroot'; some songs leave a completely different impression than others.
This is the kind of album that I would probably call hypnotic. In the very first track 'Last Day First Day', you're almost in a trance with the semi-round "The place; it's not a place, never mind anyway". The percussion and drums are probably the most consistently solid element of the release. Specifically 'Brussels' where the drums sound distant, almost allowing you to mentally traverse the 'space' of the track and have the vocals wash over you. This strong use of drums follows on immediately into 'Ulysses'; but, moreover, is present throughout the entirety of the songs.
Vocally you'll probably draw a lot of parallels to Norah Jones, The Cranberries, Australia's Alpine and probably many others. But what is really unique is the use of intentional, and noticeable, 'flatness'. Quite often at the end of phrasings, the voice that I can only assume is Francesca Bono in all tracks, drifts from the perfectly pitched melody to a sound that is flatter than in the mode of sound used immediately prior. This creates a very pleasing and important point of interest; and I'll tell you why. There are moments where some of the phrasing itself is very... 'awkward', for lack of a better word. For the most part this is not the case, but at times a song may feel like it is musically drifting somewhere before some awkwardly placed phrasing manages to detract from the thematic intent.
Speaking of the music, instrumentally there are a few hints of some more well-known bands creeping in and around, and it's hard to pin-point, but I definitely picked up hints of the Jack's Mannequin, Placebo, PJ Harvey, and then on the final track 'Otherwise', it honestly sounded like the songs of Paramore's very first release; but with better vocals and more intent.
If you get a hold of this album I strongly recommend the track 'Predictable'; it's my favourite for sure. The bass is perfect in this song, where the use of a ringing shallow sound opens the sound right up and lets you drift with the song up to it's perfectly natural progression into the climactic and suspenseful ending. Similarly the track following this one, 'Stuttering Morning', is unlike any other on the album. The drums are used to drive the song forward, and the guitars are clear as day, while this is also probably the least washed-out reverb-y track on the album. The song had me mesmerised with the line "Don't be afraid, this is not the end", which while not breaking new ground lyrically, just fit the track and mood so perfectly. While I'm commenting on the mood, the track 'Magic Ring' could be used for a masterclass - 'how to properly use that sound a guitar makes when you slide your fingers on the fretboard while changing chords'.
I'm really impressed with Ofeliadorme and this one will be on repeat for a while I'd say. I can't truly fault them as a band; though one issue (probably with production), is that sometimes the high end sustained vocals tend to become abrasive, though I can't pin-point why. With often the ultimate blend of guiding bass, soothing guitar melodies and spacey drums, combined with that reverbed voice of beauty, this is probably going to sneak into being one of my favourite releases of the year so far.
I can't give you any of the new tracks yet, but click this link for a the album teaser YouTube video, or listen to this song of their 2011
Ofeliadorme - Paranoid Park
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