Oberhofer - Chronovision

by Helena Gadsby

Until recently, Oberhofer was not a band that had really registered on my radar. I had heard of them and had listened to songs in passing, Away Frm U being the only song I could really associate with the band. However, I had never really taken the time to delve deeper into their music, and I now keep asking myself, why not?

Oberhofer is a band from Brooklyn, New York, which formed back in 2008 thanks to the initiative of front man Brad Oberhofer. Before the release of Chronovision, the band had released two EPs and one album, making this only their second album release. But it was an album release that was a long time in the making. It took over three years what with alterations to the band line up and the releasing of 106 demos before they decided on the final 12 songs on the album. Regardless of the outcome of the album, it is very clear the frontman is a being of constant creativity: on inspection of his personal SoundCloud account there are over 200 custom piano pieces for fans and friends.

I am a big fan of music that is a little different and “out there”, and this is Oberhofer. Their new album is filled with strings and piano flourishes, yet still true to Oberhofer’s familiar sound. There is still that mix of amped psych-pop with orchestral flourish and new wave fuzz, it just seems to be increased in intensity. The album combines an eclectic range of sounds and manages to pull it off.

The first track on the album – Chronovision – is an instrumental piece. No lyrics, just string instruments. It’s lethargic and you get the feeling that Oberhofer is trying to convey something to you. This vibe is echoed at the end of the album with Listen To Everyone, a track that is predominantly a piano piece but Oberhofer sporadically utters a simplistic phrase of lyrics at various points in the song. Yet the songs that are embedded between them have a much great pop/rock influence. Sun Halo is a good example with the steady drum beat and perky tune and guitar motif at the start. Equally, Ballroom Floor or Memory Ends could be described in similar ways. This variety of sounds makes the album an interesting listen.

Lyrically, the album is one long emotional outburst. “I spent my life inside a hole / I don’t have any place to go,” Oberhofer coos through a forced grin on Nevena, while on Someone Take Me Home, he imagines a future in which his muse has left him for dead — set to cheery fuzz-pop, naturally. “You fill my whole world with love,” he can be heard quietly confessing in Sun Halo. The album closer, Listen To Everyone, ends with a coda so clear: “Listen to everyone / They too have songs in their eyes.” Oberhofer appears to have put his heart into the lyrics with this album. Yet the music is often upbeat, contradicting the seriousness of what is being said.

Chronovision is a good album. It is dark and catchy, just like its predecessor, and is different to other indie albums produced. If not for the love of this genre of music, it is definitely worth a listen, if only to hear the way that a romantic orchestral influence can be found in an album.