Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

February 17, 2012

Ox Cohen ~ Sky Nine

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: instrumental, experimental
Label: Bangus Kahn Music
Year: 2005
Home: n/a

Members: Ben "Ox Cohen" DeGraff ~ all instruments

OC writes in his press release that he's looking to create instrumental music for healing or a future soundtrack ... which translates to wanting to create something out of the ordinary, perhaps mind soothing or expanding & pulling together different moods & styles of playing. It's not going to be your typical rock release the small print implies. OC is working towards his abstract goal with dueling Satriani-esque long guitar lines (for example, "Rock") crashing into each other like a Lou Reed solo (for example, "Sector 9", "Sade"), held somewhat in place with a steady bassline while prominent swooshing keyboards mold the crashing musical waves. Sky Nine, his debut though his website features many additional songs to explore, often feels wandering & unpredictable ... which is actually a key element in healing music where the mind is free to relax & itself freely wander. The only problem with the music, on the whole, is the looped electronic drums that give the tracks with a strong & upfront looped bass or keyboard foundation a bubbling new age influenced dance feeling (i.e. "A Elevator", "Flight (Of The Bugs)", "Wait A"), while others it drags down into a territory that's reminiscent of the "Miami Vice Theme" but with Satriani reinterpretting the melody line (i.e. "Sector 9", "Rock", "Sade", "Triapod Manic"), yet others have a less guitar-rock soft soundtrack quality (i.e. "Trees", "Two") but still struggled against the looped beats. Generally, the guitar lines feel like they want to soar like a jam band or be free to wander like an Indian drone to seemingly go on forever but the looped beat is not equiped with any variety, counterpoint nor is ever particularly interesting. Ethnic drums, or a synthetic equivilant, would be an interesting component to investigate in future recordings ... or, my recommendation as a music critic & fellow musician, just drop the drums on some of the songs completely (i.e. "Rock", "Sector 9", "Sade", "Trees") & just find out what the sound is like when there's no beat tying it down, or when the beat is just felt not heard. I think the result would truly be that healing music so desire. OC is a guitarist & novice cello player trained in classical & jazz styles. He says he's inspired by paintings. I once knew a dancer who tried to dance the positions he'd see in paintings ... playing the music of the canvas is possible but also esoteric, abstract & challenging for the artist & the audience alike to create & digest. But, then, Kadinsky always said the colors in his paintings corresponded to notes so it's not impossible. OC gets points for painting a lot of different types of paintings, from Dali to Vermeer. "A Elevator" & "Coffee Time" are both highlights to check out for their interesting, varied & less chaotic arrangements. "A Elevator" is a dance flavored mix while "Coffee Time" pulls together the chords of an acoustic sounding piano against the gliding notes of an electric keyboard. The drum beat doesn't hurt it any, though the choice in a fast rock beat does add an intersting counter element that might not be a first choice for this slow ballad. "Triapod Manic" might be the best traditional rock feel song where even the drums work due to the strong bassline as guitars & piano cascades in high pitched screams & waves. But, the real standout is the duel acoustic guitar piece "Two" with minor keyboard touches & a simple drum beat, like might be tried on other songs, that's the surprise stand out track that really shows OC's creativity, let alone his guitar skills unemcombered by effects & long notes.

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