Oh Hiroshima is a post-rock band hailing from Örebro, Sweden. They are a four piece that formed in 2007 (originally as a duo) and released a few ep’s, Empty Places Full of Memories in 2009 and Tomorrow in 2010. Empty Places was recorded by Leif and Jakob as a duo. When it came time to work on Tomorrow, Oskar joined the band on bass. In 2011, Resistance is Futile, their first full-length, was released. At that time, Oskar switched to drums while Simon joined the band on bass to make it a quartet. In 2014 and 2015, Oh Hiroshima entered the studio with all four members contributing to their latest full-length, In Silence We Yearn. Oh Hiroshima, while they sit firmly in the vein of the post-rock genre, do not eschew vocals nor do they sound like a carbon copy of so many others. There is a bright subtleness to their arrangements that evokes both a hopefulness and a melancholia at the same time.
The album begins with “Ellipse”, a piece that opens with a wash of cymbals and simple guitars playing off of one another. Jakob lends his longing vocals right out of the gate. This eventually turns into the thundering of toms under sparkling guitars which builds to this giant explosive moment in this track, the shortest on the disc. The guitar tone that comes with the eruption is a unique sound that gives Oh Hiroshima their stand out sound. “Mirage” hooks into the prior track by starting out with thundering toms once again. The guitar weeps over top and, eventually, another comes into conversation with it. These moments on In Silence We Yearn are picturesque and conjure a heaviness that is only lightened by the beauty of the melody. The vocals here lend a depth to the track that never distract from the overall musical soundscape but rather add to it. The arrangements are careful, calculating, at times sparse and at times complex, but always cinematic in scope. At about 6 minutes, “Mirage” explodes into a giant wall of sound. It then returns to a sparseness but it is far more aggressive with fuzzed guitars and toms thumping a tribal, almost foreboding feel.
“Ruach”, the Hebrew word for “wind” or “spirit”, begins with a syncopated guitar and drum that flows into a haunting guitar melody. The bass work on this album is extraordinary, creating moods and being a major part of the mix. Simon is not simply using his instrument to keep time or glue the parts together. While he does all of that, he uses the bass to enhance the emotive force of the rest of the music. While there are indeed vocals on this, and most of the tracks, Oh Hiroshima prove masters at telling stories with soundscapes. “Holding Rivers” is an abrupt contrast to “Ruach”, which is driving and aggressive. “Rivers” is light, sparse, and breathy. Jakob lightly sings repeatedly,
I hold chances in a row
I want to have control
With chances in a row
At about 3:27, a gorgeous melody played on the cello enters the mix along with another glittering guitar, having a conversation with one another. The track eventually fills out and moves into this wonderfully constructed, almost rock anthem.
“Aria” is the penultimate track on the disc and begins with light brushes on a snare with a melody being picked on a guitar. This track is the most melancholy on the album with mournful cello weeping through the speakers. The track has no build; it has no slow climb to that eruption. Rather, it brilliantly explodes, taking the melodies and musicality of the light quietness to a different place. As “Aria” fades, the listener is treated to a track that feels more optimistic with dancing drums and guitars. “Drones” is an almost 8-minute post-rock masterpiece, both powerful and moving. Jakob sings for a short period on the track.
Sons and daughters, there’s no progress
Songs of hardship reach our hearts
Our scales will fall, we wait for dawn
And hope to break the radio silence
The track turns to howling guitars and distorted bass, with, perhaps, a look into a possibly downtrodden future. Again, Oh Hiroshima are cinematic, telling stories with instruments and few words.
In Silence We Yearn is a spacious, cinematic post-rock tour de force that moves between a melancholy cinematic feel to spacious, glittery soundscapes. They create movements from eruptive, heavy walls of sound to quiet, pensive delightful moods with ease. Oh Hiroshima easily deserves a place among the greats in the post-rock canon.
Get In Silence We Yearn here.