He Was Eaten By Owls – ‘Chorus 30 From Blues For The Hitchhiking Dead’ Album Review.
He Was Eaten By Owls, of which I will from now on just refer to as Owls, are a self styled “Queer-Math/Chamber-Punk” band from London, who’s album Chorus 30 From Blues For The Hitchhiking Dead, of which I’ll refer to from here on out as Chorus, is an engaging plate of alphabetti spaghetti that uses the Post-Punk/Math-Rock playbook as a boomerang to unfortunately, whilst said boomerang is in the air, attempt to talk politics and Anarchist social movements touching on Race and Gender movements.
And if you are sighing at the name of both title and band because you’re scared of the whole thing being super-pretentious, then you’re actually wrong, semi-wrong, there are no flugelhorns after all.
I’ll get to the pretension in a minute, but if you are scared, listen to long-winded albums such as these, that are “proper-good” and then come back to me. Click – Here and Here, and Here, all the way.
Chorus gives you all your typical expectations from something with a Post-Rock tag. It may not have a brilliant crescendo in play, but it’s play is that it’s been infused with soft Math-Rock sensibilities that don’t knock the album aside by trying to play the album in over the top time signatures.
Instead Owls take rhythms from Jazz and knock them together with field recordings and strained strings that feel like a Post-Rock norm at this point.
It’s largely instrumental and you don’t get lyrics until about halfway through the album, and I almost wish the vocals weren’t there to an extent, as with the knowledge of ideology behind this release, they sadly don’t make quite the impact that was intended. It’s only clear from reading the linear notes or the description given with the album on their bandcamp page that this album is political.
That said, the sound excerpts of speech work amazingly well, Owls create a disturbed environment, one that feels like you’ve woken up in a field with a broken orchestra bleeding out on the ground in front of you. This is what makes Chorus good – it has that, and it’s actually somewhat bizarre, M83 uplifting serene feeling. It’d be perfect to listen to on a train whirring past the English countryside. Yet this is not seemingly what the album is about.
Instead the album is introduced as “ground-breaking” and “forward thinking”, it explores ‘intersectional feminist politics, queer theory, class issues and other radical praxis‘ – apparently the Math-Rock/Post-Rock blend is the perfect musical embodiment of these issues, it’s the “sound” of these issues.
Compositionally it’s beautifully artistic and very well constructed but the band’s ideology is less obvious. Unless you knew going into the listening experience, you would be otherwise unaware of what the meaning of these songs where, due to the lack of obvious vocal work. How can a largely instrumental album speak for so much cause? That is a point more readily known by the artist rather than the first-time beholder.
Musically Owls have succeeded, but the political overtones are somewhat lost, resulting in the album becoming confusing and messy when trying it apply it’s admirable and relatable ideological inspiration.
Ignore the fact that Chrous has been designed to be listened to in one go despite being split into nine tracks, ignore the misplaced messages that this album is going for because unfortunately in this case, it isn’t enriching the music – rather confusing it.
Chorus 30 From Blues For The Hitchhiking Dead is very enjoyable, and that’s all that you should care about, because I’m listening to it because it sounds good. Apparently it also does good for the world as well – and don’t be blind to the good – so it’s a win-win all round even if the music is clouded by a looming barrage of opinion that is no where near as obvious as it really deserves to be.
Find the band via the following links:
- Find He Was Eaten By Owls on Facebook for updates.
- Head to bandcamp where Chorus 30 From Blues For The Hitchhiking Dead can be found digitally and in various physical formats.