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Oberhofer - Chronovision LP
The road to Brad Oberhofer's 2015 LP, Chronovision, was paved with elaborate demos and exploratory misfires. According to his press release, a grand total of 106 demos from a variety of locations and situations preceded the dozen well-curated tracks that make up his sophomore release. After a quick rise from a Brooklyn bedroom to recording his 2012 debut, Time Capsules II, with studio legend Steve Lillywhite (U2, XTC), the indie pop wunderkind spent the next few years recording material on his own in upstate New York, as well as with Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses) in Seattle, before scrapping it all when his vision finally coalesced. More so than on Oberhofer's debut, Chronovision feels rooted in the tight static of '80s new wave, but veers occasionally into sweeping orchestral pop and psychedelic grandeur. The sessions that eventually made the cut were mixed by Ben Allen (Washed Out, Animal Collective) and have a more muscular feel, especially on standouts like "Nevena" and "Someone Take Me Home." The punchier, less frenetic rhythm section allows room for some of his busier arrangements to work, but overall, Chronovision feels less cluttered than his debut. Another highlight, the majestic and poignant piano ballad "Sea of Dreams," represents Oberhofer's dreamier side and is probably the most affecting track here. In other places, though, there's a feeling of having captured a handful of exciting ideas that don't quite add up to a great song. It's a common trapping for some artists who can seemingly produce an endless fount of creativity, but often move on to the next idea without refining the one before it. Still, the extended editing process of whittling down his 106 demos seems to have worked well enough for Oberhofer as he turns in a solidly crafted follow-up.