Review: Oikos – The Great Upheaval

a4248824611_16Oblivion is seldom sudden. Oikos describe The Great Upheaval as “an imaginary soundtrack for every moment in history ravaged by violence and superstition”. In truth, the record seems to document the prelude and the aftermath on either side. The “moment” itself is implied, so vividly written into the before and after that it assumes a present tense clarity. E-bows descend like rain, summoned by tom drums played from mountain summits. How do we not see it coming? Guitars sink into dunes of wasteland drone, their Americana chords reduced to rubble and buckled harmonics. How will we recover from such profound disrepair?

The record has panoramic scope. Strings and guitars stretch across the frame like horizon lines. They ripple under the forces that threaten to fracture the future, bending into microtonal disturbances and expanding great sweeps of minor key, goaded into greater distress by flurries of cymbals or violin bows or wails of holy song. This seam between the earth and the sky – between the strums of physical connection and the great echoes that curdle above, between the croak of friction and the perpetual shimmer of celestial harmonics – is forever breaking open, prised apart by the increasing disconnect between human action and spiritual equilibrium. It’s a gradual, terrible process. Drum grooves trundle through the frame like a vehicle sent in search of solutions (before) or survivors (after), carving a path through the restless writhe of the fearful and the dying. The descent of Oikos is as assured as seasonal change. Each chord reaches forth into winter and pulls itself further and further in, profoundly aware of the imminent catastrophe yet powerless to steer around it.