Charles the Osprey - To Capture (Cover Artwork)

Charles the Osprey

To Capture (2017)

self releasede

The last time we heard from Grand Rapids, Michigan’s math-rock duo Charles the Osprey, was in 2011 when the band released its collaborative split twelve-inch with slowcore champions Shores. A lot has changed in the seven years since Charles the Osprey’s last release: Nazis are no longer hiding in the shadows, the American people willingly elected a crazed bigot into the highest possible political office, all of the entertainment industry’s long hidden (but not truly secretive) sexual misconduct issues are finally coming out publicly, and the threat of nuclear war has never felt more real. So just what could an instrumental math-rock group have to say about all of this? Quite a lot.

The eleven songs on To Capture find Charles the Osprey wrestling with the current state of the world through their instruments, and somehow trying to make sense of it all. To Capture is the result of guitarist Raf Ohli and drummer Derek Lancioni reworking songs the duo had been working on for the past seven years, but because of personal obligations the songs sat stagnant until recently. When you listen to To Capture, you don’t feel that these songs are the product of music that’s been past written; the songs feel fresh, new, and even without a single vocal, relevant to the emotional state of the world. The songs bring out an emotional side of the instrumental duo which we haven’t yet seen.

Math-rock has always been plagued as a musician’s music- something that only other people in bands could truly appreciate. Not to say that the genre doesn’t have its supporters among the instrumentally challenged, but it’s generally not an easy pill to swallow. Charles the Osprey’s releases have been plagued by this symptom, until now. Their previous records, while nothing short of spectacular from a musician’s standpoint, left little for the average listener. Once the shock and awe of their talent wore off, you found yourself spinning the records less and less. This is not the case with To Capture.

On To Capture, Charles the Osprey have finally found that delicate balance between beauty and chaos. They are able to give heart and soul to a mostly mechanical musical genre, that often feels rusted shut after a few listens. The dramatic shifts in tempo don’t jar you, or feel placed there for the sake of art. They feel necessary, and warranted. They have taken the often-abused math-rock rule book, and thrown it out the window in defiance. Instead, the duo focuses more on the craft of songwriting, and garnering an emotional response from the listener. Songs that bring the listener into a hypnotic trance, rather than solely focusing on the technical accuracy of the band. Charles the Osprey is saying so much without saying anything at all, and they want you to listen. Quite hard to do when there are no vocals to fall back upon. The album flows seamlessly from one transition to the next, and from track to track.

To Capture is not only an achievement for the duo, but also for the math-rock genre as well. Charles the Osprey gives a beating heart, and soul to something that often feels rigid. In these eleven songs, they find themselves not only wrestling with the world they reside in, but also the genera they inhabit. No longer are they trying to impress us with what they are capable of behind their respective instruments. They are showing us finally what they are capable of as a songwriting team. To Capture is the strongest effort of this impressive duo to date, and also of the math-rock genre in general.