oOoOO – Love Is Hurting Us [EP]
Anyone into their electronic music will probably have probably come across tri-angle records. And if you haven't, then you're missing out on some of the most forward thinking and innovative sounds around from the atmospheric (Balam Acab) to the more experimental (Evian Christ, How To Dress Well) and the simply jaw-dropping (Clams Casino, Holy Other). Producer Christopher Greenspan (otherwise known as oOoOO) slotted quite nicely into the tri-angle roster upon the release of his debut self-titled EP back in 2010. In fact, many cite that EP as a key staple of the tri-angle sound and the movement largely known as 'witch-house', encompassing disjointed synth trickery and general atmospheric edge-of-seat creepiness.
But that was 2010. Roughly two years have passed since all the blogs were creaming themselves over oOoOO and his contemporaries (Salem, White Ring etc…) so is oOoOO still an act worth getting excited about with his new EP Love Is Hurting Us? The answer is yes and no. In terms of song-writing oOoOO's talents have certainly progressed. While the first EP's focus lay largely on the instrumentals, this new one brings in more expressive lyrical elements to do with love and emotional pain. This is most apparent on songs like 'Break Yr Heart' featuring modulated soft female vocals, atop of signature oOoOO ghost like synth wails, pining "the night has come, I want you to stay" affectingly in a way oOoOO has never really done before. It's a moment of real beauty which unfortunately isn't really repeated to the same effect on the EP.
'Springs' isn't too far off, featuring many of the same techniques as 'Break Yr Heart', but while undeniably haunting, feels tired out. It may well have gone down a treat two years ago when this kind of thing was new and exciting, but now an overwhelming sense of 'haven't we heard this before from the likes of White Ring, Grimes and Salem?' is annoyingly present. 'Starr' as well, while not a bad track, just feels a little bit too reminiscent of other artists and sounds, particularly with the under-laying bass swells and the deepened vocals that bring to mind, predominantly Holy Other.
There are moments of originality and unique identity, sparing though they may be. First track 'TryTry' is distinctly oOoOO more than anything else on the EP. Revolving around a heavy beat, deep bass and looped vocals, it's hypnotic and a reminder of why some of oOoOO's earlier work such as 'Mumbai' was so damn good. It also proves that oOoOO can still create images through his music; even listening to this song at home can transport you to walking through a slightly dodgy area at 2am or driving through a desolate city in the rain.
Love Is Hurting Us generally seems a little bit out of focus. Everything is hazy or a bit creepy, the emotions in the lyrics are there but obscured behind a thick fog. While everything here is interesting on some level, it's often not original or innovative enough to set oOoOO apart from his contemporaries but I'm sure the best is yet to come.