Chicago-based instrumental three-piece OR is preparing for the release of their debut full-length, “Pariah,” through Dog & Pony Records on April 8, 2022.
OR is formed by guitarist Frank Hryniewicz (Sidekick Kato, Damp Hay), drummer Matt Precin (American Draft, Sacha Mullin), and bassist Erik Bocek (Ghosts & Vodka, American Heritage, Joan of Arc). While this is OR’s recorded debut, the album is hardly a haphazardly assembled collection of songs. Written over the course of the last five years, the album’s eight tracks possess a focus and clarity that can only come with patience, time and allowing songs to develop as naturally as possible.
“Some of these songs have been around for years,” says bassist Eric Boeck. “I’ve just never played with people who wanted to put the time into learning them.”
Featuring veterans of Chicago indie underground acts like Ghosts And Vodka, Sidekick Kato, and American Draft, OR could have easily existed alongside any of those acts as much as today, though the band is hardly a rehash of previous offerings. The trio plays a unique shade of instrumental guitar Rock that isn’t easily pigeonholed. The influences vary-from The Animals to Sonic Youth to Mark Guiliana, and while those may not be obvious touchstones to the listener, OR takes those disparate influences and fuses them into something very Midwest. Equal parts melodic, dissonant, technical, and structured, Pariah offers densely structured compositions in bite-sized offerings, with all but one of its tracks exceeding the five-minute mark.
The trick to succeeding as an instrumental act is no easy feat, as doing so requires more than simply writing songs and then leaving out the vocals. “When you’re an instrumental band, you think more in terms of sonics and less in terms of verses and choruses,” says guitarist Frank Hryniewicz. “There are parts where I was really going for tension, almost like a trainwreck at times. I’m not afraid of making a lot of noise on guitar.”
“Every note is important, every part is important,” adds Bocek. “It was designed to be instrumental music.”
Recorded at Blacktop Recording by Andy Nelson over the course of a few days, then mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, the tracks on “Pariah” are all delivered with a forceful and panoramic production, which gives the songs an animated energy. From the driving Rock of “Viking Glass” to the angular and soaring “Witness Marks” to the dirge of the sub-eight minute closer “All of My Children,” OR covers a considerable amount of ground on their debut. Whether you’re a fan of their previous acts, are in search of timeless midwestern instrumental guitar rock or some combination of the two “Pariah” offers eight incredibly listenable and masterfully crafted tracks that loosely echo the past, in the present, while looking towards the future.
Watch OR’s quarantine-filmed video for the LP track “Many Robes” through the YouTube player below:
“Pariah” is set for release through all digital services and on vinyl through Dog & Pony Records on April 8, 2022. Find preorders at Bandcamp where “Manly Robes” is playing here: https://dogandponyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pariah-2