You wouldn’t be faulted if OX, Coalesce’s first album in almost a decade, shocked you with its overall raw, vital energy. “Reunions” don’t often work this well. That said, as I mentioned shortly before it’s release in June, the new collection ranks with their classic 0:12 Revolution In Just Listening and, yup … I really do prefer it to its elder. Riding that wave, the new seven-song OXEP, which came out today, continues the expansive, texturally expanded post-hardcore exploration of the full-length. (It’s all new material.) When speaking with vocalist Sean Ingram and guitarist Jes Steineger about OX I suggested:
Maybe because of the country western and just straight-up western feel (“Wild Ox Moan,” “We Have Lost Our Will”), it comes off as a really American album. I don’t mean this in a jingoist way. More Johnny Cash. A distinctively American sound.
Their responses go well with OXEP’s “Absent In Death.” So read while you listen.
Coalesce – “Absent In Death” (MP3)
SEAN INGRAM: We refer to it as Americana, yeah totally. There is just something about that period in our heritage, turn-of-the-century America, which begs to be reflected on by our generation. Such a raw time. A lot of sacrifice
JES STEINEGER: Actually, this one question will surely be the most memorable for us. Despite my previous claim about my antipathy for discourse and intentionality in the song writing process, there was definitely a specific conversation I had with Ellis one night about how I wanted to try and make Coalesce a distinguishable part of the American music tradition. Granted, we live after the first punk and metal generations, and we carry that mark very visibly in our sound. But I wanted to meld that sound to a heritage that, for me at least, began around the turn of the century when my ancestors immigrated to this country. We wanted to take a field holler like “Wild Ox Moan”, a song whose origin no one can trace, and include it in our music; give it our own specific twist musically and lyrically. The fact that one person (i.e., yourself haha) sees this sort of distinct American presence in our record means a lot to us.
To be a little more specific, we don’t just see it as an American record, but as a distinctly Midwestern American record, if for nothing else than the fact that that’s what we are individually: Midwestern Americans, born and raised. And this sort of recognition was a big point for me. My re-involvement with Coalesce since 2005 has coincided with my abandoning a fascination with the East and accepting where I come from; an identification of myself as a physical being, this blood, these bones, these emotions, rather than some abstract and passionless soul. My family members are farmers; it’s the earliest world I remember. And the agrarian world is the earth, the dirt itself in all its concreticity and weight. That’s the Midwest I love: the dusty and rural Midwest of depth and simplicity, in contrast to the urban cesspool of shallowness and complexity that I live in at the moment. All this romanticization I’m giving (which shouldn’t be mistaken as a jingoist romanticization, mind you) is ultimately inseparable from my impression of the music of OX.
The rest of the interview, including Ingram’s discussion of his love for Sufjan Stevens (“I am a great admirer of his, and as a lyricist, he’s a muse to me in many ways”) is over at P4K. If Coalesce are new to you then you ought to hear them in more standard mode, too:
OXEP is out via Relapse. These guys are truly inspired live. If you’re in the NYC area, you can see I’m telling the truth: Osiris and BrooklynVegan are hosting Coalesce with Coliseum, A Storm Of Light, Your Skull My Closet, and Tournament 12/30 @ Club Europa. It’s Coalesce’s exclusive East Coast appearance, I’m told.
[Photo by Jennifer Brothers]