The OO-Ray is the solo project of Ted Laderas, from Portland, OR, who defines himself as a scientist, amateur cellist, and electroacoustic composer.
Released on Audiomoves, "Astoria" is a selection from tracks written in 2009 and 2010. The project was to improvise a track a week, reflecting the mood and the atmosphere of short periods.
So it's not a "true" album, much more a collection of moments, of pictures not conceived initially as a part of this album but more as occasion to get to the point, to fix things, to smooth away remaining stress, events and tiredness.
It is quieter, less shoegaze, colder, less on the verge of emotional collapsing work than his "Winterborne EP" which I quite enjoyed. He seems to have wanted to reach a more conventional form of expression, and such direction is not so different from what Antonymes did on his album "The licence to interpret dreams". It is something like a more "adult" release, taking height naturally, but not as the result of a long work of composition, going back and forth, mainly as a change of scale and perspective.
David Darling, Brahms and My Bloody Valentine were his sources of inspirations for this album. Apparently the latter one lost some influence compared with the previous EP, and it pushes his music towards a more formal style, dilapidating a part of his charm.
We are closer to the real Ted Laderas, distanced from a sublimated version. I see no crossing point between warm intimate emotional melancholy of his shoegazing accents, and a still not deeply mastered ECM new series abstract spiritual melancholic perspective he often explores here without giving himself the right compositional tools.
I start my voyage through "Astoria" is with the objective to find back the follow-up of what I enjoyed on his "Winterborne EP", discarding what I can only translate as false starts or dead eands.
First stop with the slow swirls of "Marzo" where he is strumming his cello strangely in order to get a rhythmical pattern, which strangely reminds me of marimbas, over which he adds several layers of processed cello, and a few background percussion. You're not supposed to play shoegaze music and it is even shaky at times, but emerges from the condition an undeniable charm.
Slowly piercing through the collected tracks is a third vein he is opening with ambient hazy pieces reflecting the artwork. "Autumn" is a perfect translation of the cover image, aerial tramway pole leading god knows where through the fog. "Astoria" is a short atmospheric drone interlude, a temporary sunny spell with a pale sun in a middle position. Later, once the mist is dissipated, a glowing sun rises in a soft blue sky, with "Sleep" a warm and fulfilling ambient track.
It is followed by the feverish "Waveguide", where you almost imagine a distorted guitar playing with a cello, but it's just two layers or cello with some interplay, beautiful and intense like slow motion sea waves.
Later the delicate "Gwageus" is like a peaceful nocturnal refuge, suspended in time, like a long loop finisheing just where he started, until the "Chimes at Midnight" wakes us up, for a moment, before falling into deep sleep with "Palimpsests", meeting some ghosts.
Finally what lacks in this collection of tracks is more balance and structure, a master plan.
Astoria Sampler by ooray