OSV stands for the names of the original initiators of this musical trio; drummer Gary Oppert, bass player Steve Sexton and Brandon Vaughn, who plays keyboards and backing guitars. During the first two albums the trio had several guest guitarists to complete their instrumental albums. One of these talented guitarists was Dutch maestro Marcel Coenen, who, since the second alum; Second Thoughts became a steady force for the existing trio. When keyboard player Vaughn left, Sergey Boykov was the one that boosted the band to a higher level with his adventurous playing. Due to an overfull schedule and an upcoming solo album the keyboard duties shifted again; Boykov was replaced by Mathieu Fiset. In the meantime steady force Coenen was joined by Jonas Tamas as regular guitar player for OSV's album releases.
In the year 2014 OSV gave birth to their seventh album, simply named 7 with the line-up as mentioned above; Oppert and Sexton as rhythm section, Fiset on keyboards and both Coenen and Tamas on guitars. One year later, on the follow up album The Cover Of Light, two past members returned to the recording sessions; Vaughn and Boykov joined Fiset, as well as Thomas Brown does on one composition.
Musically OSV sounds as the hard rocking brother of a band like Planet X or the heavier sister of Cosmosquad; highly regarded technically skilled instrumental bands with outstanding line-ups. Listening to the album 7 you still hear a coherent piece of music, although I do think the recordings are the result of back and forth sending of musical files, being put together for the final mix. Nevertheless, as I mentioned, it sounds great; thanks to the modern technology. The overall sound is fine, drums are clear and present, but not taking all the attention in the mix. Steve Sexton's bass has a nice rumble and an occasionally high ”plunk”. Fiset has a cool keyboard sound and the occasionally used Hammond organ sound certainly gives the songs a little extra. His contribution levels the usually dominating guitars and makes sure both of these albums are accessible for guitar freaks as well as for the progressive rock fan that is keen on majestic keyboard parts, impressive ivory solos and relaxing piano spots. Still, personally my favourite instrument excels on these albums, Marcel Coenen, known as a high speed shredder, shows another side of himself, listen to Reflections Past and you hear how smooth and tasteful his playing is. During other occasions he definitely puts his pedal to the metal in furious playing. But also the compositions impress, perfectly balancing keyboards and guitar, creating interesting and intelligent musical arrangements. During Elevation, Jonas Tamas takes the lead, his way of guitar playing very much differs from Marcel's approach, more jazzy, blues influenced and therefore an absolutely interesting addition to OSV's music. Highlight for me on the 7 album is the amazing Heliocentric.
After the reasonably steady line-up of 7, The Cover Of Light sees a more vitiated list of musicians and I am curious if the 2015 release can top the fine 2014 album. Marcel Coenen's high speed soloing absolutely contrasts with Mathieu Fiset's space sounds during the album's opener; The Fall, creating some doubt. Continuing with compositions that hold Fiset's keyboards I hear a change, the organic sound of the Hammond organ on the previous album has been replaced by a more spacey sound, which creates a sort of gap between both instruments. Sergey Boykov's contribution is a more progressive one and can be compared to the style of Rick Wakeman at certain points. A style that perfectly fits to the compositions and balances the technical guitar parts. His playing makes sure this album gently moves towards the progressive rock side of OSV's music. Day Break is a good example of the progressive side of OSV's music. Taking keyboards; Thomas Brown does a very nice job on the piano when you listen to Giver Of Faith. A bit of a shame the guitar sounds like it is recorded with less professional material and therefore sounds if the guitar player is located a few meters behind the keyboards. Original band member and partly name giver of the band, Brendon Vaughn adds his playing to the relaxed Come To Pass, joining Jonas Tamas in a fine composition, certainly a highlight of the album. As a sort of bonus on the 2015 album OSV has recorded three extra songs, The Police's Every Breath You Take, Led Zeppelin's No Quarter and Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb. A nice gesture, where No Quarter absolutely stands out.
OK, it's hard to judge both albums as one and I definitely have listened to the albums in the wrong order. Where 7 is amazing in quality; the overall sound is undoubtedly good, the successor The Cover Of Light does not have this coherent feeling when it comes to the album's sound. In a way, during this album Marcel Coenen's guitar has a bit of an awkward sound and the album misses the band feel it had on the 7 album. Too bad, because the compositions are strong and promising.
The Cover Of Light: ***+
Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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