Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Onségen Ensemble — Realms
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, CD / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2023-01-19
Over the years since Onségen Ensemble first started releasing music, they’ve grown in many ways, presenting different views into their musical world on each release. With Realms, there’s a bit more emphasis on vocals, though the powerful progressive backing is the same. They do an excellent job of balancing their sound between rhythmic grooves and angular composition, presenting what might be termed space rock filtered through a King Crimson lens. There’s also a definite cinematic scope, drawing comparisons with post rock and twanging surf rock. Their fondness for expanded instrumentation continues, and Realm features didgeridoo, ocarina, flute, saxophone, and trumpet in addition to bass, guitars, keyboards, and vocals. Often the vocals are wordless, supplied by a group of eight to ten people, which heightens the impression that you could be listening to a movie soundtrack. I’ll admit to missing the big guitar riffs that previous albums excelled at, but they’re replaced by ambitious arrangements for the large ensemble that provide similar impact. I particularly enjoy the way the woodwinds and brass are incorporated, providing melodies that complement the guitars and keys nicely. And as always, Onségen has a dramatic vision, negotiating quiet sections that contrast with the full-bore climaxes. This group really has a sound of its own, and fans of both progressive rock and post rock should find a lot to enjoy on Realms.
Related artist(s): Onségen Ensemble
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