Oh Dorian – “Untitled Volume 1”
“Macon’s Oh Dorian has combined the Heavens above with outer space. That is potentially one of existence’s greatest uproars, but, with her first full-length, Untitled, Volume 1, the only uproar is of pure genius and loveliness.” – Hannah CookHannah Cook
out of 10
Untitled Volume 1
Macon’s Oh Dorian has combined the Heavens above with outer space. That is potentially one of existence’s greatest uproars, but, with her first full-length, Untitled, Volume 1, the only uproar is of pure genius and loveliness. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard, giving it a refreshing and bizarre take on the emotional value of music.
Heather Kemp is the mastermind behind Oh Dorian, and her voice is the most remarkable aspect to it all. It’s like an angel’s—the daunting kind. The kind of angel painted on the dome ceilings of ancient churches; The kind with pale skin, thin lips, delicate hands and a sad look upon her face. She seems as though she’s witnessing all the demises and creations of the world beneath her morose gaze, and within that gaze, acceptance. Here, we have Heaven.
On the contrary, the instrumentation takes the side of the extraterrestrial. The synths and keyboards are mysterious, like a UFO spotted in the middle-of-nowhere, Texas, that could have easily been a figment of our imagination, or the dark side of the moon. A black hole. Outer space.
“Silvering,” a clever song of aging and perhaps self-doubt, flaunts Heather’s perfectly fluctuating voice over subtle guitar, both acoustic and electric. Eventually, the sounds of space weave in, as her vocals harmonize, reverberated and echoing. It’s busy, but cohesive. The ears have much to wallow in, but they do so gladly.
“Salt Ceremony” is the first song without heavy synths, and it’s a nice divergence from the rest of the album. Heather’s voice sounds different, more raw, without the effects, adding something that’s more organically haunting. This is particularly towards the end of the song when her “oh no no no” echoes and slowly fades out. It’s as if she’s being dragged away through a dark chamber, getting more panicky the further she gets.
Oddities shine through and through in “Sometimes I’m Happy [Holidays] | Numeric Affair.” Not only is the song over 12 minutes long, but there are so many worldly (and not so worldly) noises involved that it’s like some sort of weird time traveling journey. The song opens with a brief classic horn number that soon fades to white noise, that soon expands into haunting, shimmery synths. Heather’s voice joins in, just as eerie, but of course beautiful. Once voice fades out, then comes an array of noises—a man’s deep voice, birds chirping, a dog barking, a chain clanking, a door slamming, laughing. This lasts for about five minutes, but for some reason, it never gets old. The mind is almost forced to listen to every sound it can catch. It’s on edge, anticipating something but unsure of what.
Wisdom swims within Heather’s words and voice. She carries burdens and happiness, questions and answers, simplicities and complexities, all working against and with each other simultaneously. Untitled, Volume 1 is a creation that had the potential to fail, but it most certainly is Oh Dorian’s masterpiece.