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June 27, 2012

Album Review: DIIV ‘Oshin’

by @thoughtontracks

A close friend recently told me that I was the most impatient person that they had ever met. As I searched for a rebuttal, I slowly came to grips with the new infamous title.  I wanted to flip this perception immediately; however, I understood this was going to be a work in progress.  After attempting to master the deep breath, battling to find an adult bedtime, and lowering my caffeine intake to a reasonable level, I begin to find regular calmness.  Like most instances I turn to music and try to find ways to connect the dots. While I continue to look for areas of enhancement, I immediately dial in on a certain absentminded, musical genre that has completely influenced my train of thought this year.  Releases by Beach House, Grimes, and Chairlift have helped relieve my intolerance by providing a powerful ease through the textures and moods that they focus on.  Existential in nature, dream-pop has emerged as my elixir to during experiences when calmness does not come quickly.  The latest delicate disposition is DIIV’s debut release Oshin. After several spins I have found an additional record to lean on to help me keep track of my tranquility.

Zachary Cole Smith may not be household name amongst independent music circles, but I begin to classify his work among the top tier of mood changing guitarists in my rotation. When I put on Beach Fossils’ EP, What a Pleasure last year I quickly realized that Smith was a mood master. Songs like “Calyer” help to showcase Smith’s ability to highlight otherworldly textures through his guitar playing. His style has etched a path in my brain that demands attention while offering an exit to ease. His direction in Beach Fossils provides me with my first dose, while his introspective melodic playing on Oshin helps to proactively numb impatient nerves.

Smith recorded this project in his bedroom with no Internet. The intimacy with these unplugged intentions builds immediate appreciation as I sink into this release.  His cracking melodies provide comfort almost effortlessly. Words appear to be subtle whispers throughout this record.  The blurry lyrical perspective hides behind the melody, but also endorses many compliments to this dim 13-track release.  The embedded, transposition that bassist, Devin Ruben Perez brings to the project is immediately noted in opening instrumental, “(Druun)”.  Former Smith Westerns drummer, Colby Hewitt, provides perfect structure around Smith’s childhood friend, Andrew Bailey’s guitar magic.  The record serves as a silhouette where each band member’s style helps to blur the line.

DIIV might come across to the listener as comfortable, but I find tracks like “Human” a bit unsettling. This song is true to the foundation of Oshin, but yearns for more with their most aggressive approach.  The addition of songs “Sometime” and “Doused” promote Smith’s vision to captivate and build lightly.  The insinuating approach that Smith subtly conveys throughout Oshin contentedly challenges the listeners’ experience.  Send off, “Home” serves as the perfect lullaby and a last layer to rest my thoughts on. This record’s ambiguity is amplified with each play, while inviting the listener into a comfortable distraction.

The rise in my own personal connection with dream-pop could not have come at a better time. Each new release offers additional mesmerizing textures that display patience.  Albums like Oshin are perfect for anyone looking for a change in musical perception and self-reflection. A familiar feeling of uneasiness sets in as I impatiently think about a follow-up only a week after its release…a work in progress.

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Written by Brett McGrath

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