Blake Parker’s Cyrus & Oz odyssey is the latest delight to land in our orbit courtesy of the tireless world-scouring Melbourne label, Ramble Records.
Joining fellow U.S. experimentalists Trespass Field and droneroom through the miasma of interesting ideas, Cyrus & Oz’s latest offering, Ephemera Collection 18-19, has been stitched together from different sessions and off-the-cuff field recordings. These moments give the album an unevenness that proves to be its greatest boon, showcasing Parker’s subtle range for improvisation and his ability to capture – in some instances quite literally – different moods in the room.
Over a myriad of mangled frequencies and insect chatter from the depths of night, opening 10 minute stanza, Downer, contains the kind of spacious lullaby riff we would normally associate with Explosions In The Sky. Pure, sweet beauty as the Cyrus & Oz experience operates within the margins of incongruity and accessibility.
Similarly with Pins, as a cinematic riff hovers above what sounds like indistinct chatter in a bar on a normal Friday night. Nothing sinister, just normal conversations that now feel like fading memories as civic vitality is slowly drowned out by online communication.
Far removed from the preceding two tracks, Vocal Meditations sounds like Labradford and Catherine Christer Hennix tinkering away at ideas somewhere in the hills of Vermont. A low-slung meditative drone wrapped in hisses and intermittent static, and while Needles continues down a similar path – a reflective, post-life adventure in the ether – the two tracks are essentially the through line to Ephemera Collection 18-19.
From here the curve balls come in succession, starting with something completely against the grain of its title. In what is a multi-layered noise assault inspired by Wolf Eyes, Family Time buckles the walls of the Parker family home. “See what I have to put up with?” comes a voice from (assumingly Mrs Parker); the whole scene a warts and all insight into how experimentalism lives and breathes.
With the wreckage of Family Time scattered, Parker swiftly moves things forward with 666 Over 888, possessing a Michio Kurihara A Boat of Courage vibe, only with added saccharine. In an ideal world it would be a fitting way to end Ephemera Collection 18-19, but you get the impression that’s not how this project works. Closing with a hip-hop inspired lounge music trance, Out adds to the subtle absurdity and mystique of Cyrus & Oz.
In many ways, Ephemera Collection 18-19 could be considered a portal for new ears. Such as the contrasting, genre-hopping escapades Parker takes us on here, no one Cyrus & Oz offering is the same, and here it feels like the best bits of the project rolled into one. If he ever set out to take post-rock to new thrilling heights he’d be more than capable. Things like that seem too easy under the Cyrus & Oz project, however. That’s the beauty of the world of experimentation, and with Ephemera Collection 18-19, Parker proves he is one of the many underappreciated voices in it.
Ephemera Collection 18-19 is out now via Ramble Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.