This review originally appeared at Exclaim.ca
In retrospect, it seems inevitable the Flowers of Hell would stretch out their experimental post-rock into a single, continuous 45-minute track. The songs on the trans-Atlantic collective’s last disc, Come Hell or Highwater, were already pushing the boundaries of traditional song lengths.
Taking what was already a sprawling sound to new heights, O isn’t exactly the kind of track you listen to on repeat while riding the subway; it’s best experienced alone, in a quiet room, turned up really loud to grasp the full sonic range and emotion. Music of this kind tends to be made electronically, usually by someone alone in their bedroom, basically because it’s difficult to get a bunch of musicians in a room playing together and not have at least one of them make a mistake over a 45-minute span. Group mastermind Greg Jarvis managed to capture O in one live take after many rehearsals and demos, giving the recording a very visceral feel.
Presented with a DVD on the disc’s DualDisc flip side, O includes a host of extra material, including a fancy stereo mix of the title track, music videos and individual live cuts, and a great 50-minute set recorded at Toronto, ON’s Music Gallery. While neither easy listening nor watching, O is nevertheless a triumph