Melancholy piano melodies as waves lapping on a shore.
Whilst it is largely quiet, melodic and minimal in its approach, Ô Lake’s ‘Gerry’ – an album inspired by the film of the same name – has a simple poetic nature to it. The album works several themes together across its 45 minute run time that on their own are pretty and slightly sad. Yet together as a body of work, Ô Lake has created a lovely musical narrative that feels more alive as a full work than listening to its separate segments.
The reason for this is that each piano melody largely follows a similar style. It is a pensive mini trip of dah-dah-d-d-d-dah that appears in different variations. The closing track ‘Death Valley’, is understated and beautiful. On the opening theme where lush synths and minimal electronic drums pulsating too – its mysterious and evocative of a troubled mind. Elsewhere, synths take over to give the same theme a colder vibe such as ‘The Path’ or ‘Alone’ where the piano has a very long glass reverb to it over outdoor noise. The whole album reminds me of water lapping on a shore. I’m not sure why I get this imagery – maybe it’s the pace of the music and the waltz it brings. Every time I listen to it, I’m mentally drawn to the shoreline.
There is a three track segment in the second half of the album where all of this comes to fruition. ‘Do You Wanna Help’ is a brooding synth drone of the main melodies chords distorted by chaotic wind damage. It feels both healing in its chord progression but also hazardous with its sharp angular sound design. This leads into the ten minute ‘Lost’. This piano and synth piece takes all of Ô Lake’s post-rock past from his band days and works it into something more classical. The slow build-up and muted outro of the main riffs asks you to be patient. With all good post-rock music though, the rewards are worthwhile and bold. This then leads into the seven minute ‘Desert’ piece. This is a bubbling modular synth-like arrangement underscored by low octave piano and guitars dressed as noise channels. It is the kind of music you’d expect from a dramatic sci-fi movie where the main character is having a dramatic and long journey montage. It is epic, odd and extremely intriguing to listen to because of how the synths bubble and distort.
Having not seen Gerry itself, I may be missing some of the nuance to the music but this soundtrack works as a standalone musical narrative. The melodies entwine across tracks to give you a story. Ô Lake ensures its a story worth listening to. Keep an ear out for this if you enjoy piano soundtracks, film scores and unusual ways to add in modular synth styled music to cinema. Understated in a great way, dive in.
Recommended track: Death Valley
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