Ovod, Between the Days

ovod_daysThe basic tracks for Ovod’s “Between the Days” were initially improvised late at night, and complemented in post-production with further instruments and textures. Ivan Lavrov takes off from a base conceit of using a singular sound, from helicopter blades to train wheels on tracks, to provide a “spine” for each piece. From there he dives into areas that run from hazy dreamscapes to shadowy corners, all the while providing an ample amount of detail to describe his ideas. Between the Days glides by pretty easily, but makes sure that the listener doesn’t drift off too far. While I’ve found that I don’t mind letting this album do its thing, and have in fact let it loop for several hours on several days, I’ve come to realize that it’s never managed to hit me on much more than a surface level. Which is strange, because it’s a well-made thing with something to say. Part of my issue may come from the way some tracks taper off at a point that feels almost arbitrary. “Night at the Port” and “Butterfly Day” disappear in musical mid-statement, as does the closing track. I’m sure Lavrov has his reasons and feels them to be complete, but for me as a listener it’s a “Huh?” moment. Setting the occasional iffy ending aside, there is a lot to like on this release. “Night at the Port” is loaded with a lot of different feelings and focal points. Distorted, metallic chords, deep background drones, and a keyboard melody bring an edgy air. But, again, we’re left alone with the keys in the last 30 seconds or so, and just when they feel like they might have established what they’ve shown up to say, they recede into the fog. “Afterglow,” with big guitar chords and effects from Alexander Tarakanov, is dark and a little menacing. Lavrov lands big piano chords at the open for an extra shot of drama. “Swamp Helicopters” is one of my preferred pieces here. It lurks in the shadows a bit, with guitar lines stepping forward in places to speak in short phrases. Late in the track Lavrov brings the distinctive thrum and whup whup sound of the copter blades into the mix and it acts like a subtle mix of drone and percussive element. Stick around for the 12-minute closer, “When Rails Are Not Alone.” With the slightly altering—but still consistent—click-clack of a passing train keeping a metronomic beat in the backdrop, Lavrov weaves guitar lines, long ambient pads, and electronic treatments into a mildly hypnotic collage.

Yes, this would appear to be a bit much detail for an album I’ve said only hits me on a surface level. But perhaps I am understating its effect because, to be honest, I have listened to this over and over, let it work its way into my system, and I can certainly point out where it excels. I wish I could more adequately describe why I’m not all in with this release, but…I just can’t. I can certainly tell you that you need to give it a listen, and I can say with equal certainty that I will look for more of Ovod’s work, having heard this. Do yourself a favor, if you like your work a bit on the experimental side: grab this and, as Lavrov suggests, listen to it some “evening in an armchair with disabled gadgets, a good pair of loudspeakers or headphones.” Again, don’t let my arbitrary and inexplicable hesitancy about this release keep you from checking it out.

Available at the Ovod website.

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