Oh boy. What the hell do we have here? Finnish weirdos PH (formerly Mr. Peter Hayden) have returned with their fifth album, Osiris Hayden. When last we saw our heroes, there were meandering their way through a lethargically hypnotic set of post-rock on 2017’s Eternal Hayden. I can’t say I was excited to hear of the creation of Osiris Hayden, but as is often the rule around here, I reviewed the last one so here I am with this one as well. At the very least, the promo blurb is more enticing than it was for their last effort. This time around, PH are aiming for something “beyond the limits of modern psychedelia,” something that pulls influence from Gary Numan and Nine Inch Nails. And one of my psychedelic favorites from the past, Julian Cope, fully endorses these guys. This all makes me at least willing to dig in.
Much like Eternal Hayden, the songs on Osiris Hayden all flow together seamlessly, turning this 38-minute album into one song rather than nine. The theme throughout this trance-inducing adventure is apocalyptic ecstasy. Massive, oversaturated drums drive a hypnotic, churning soundscape of synths, while distorted vocals echo occasionally in the background. Effect-laden guitars swirl around our heads, while the bottom end threatens to end the lives of our speaker systems. As for specifics, well, I’ve just described every song on Osiris Hayden; there isn’t really anything to set any of the nine numbers apart from each other. It’s a trippy, blurry, hazy journey to the edge of the interstellar frontiers—or something like that. I shouldn’t have read all of the promo notes, in fact, because nearly every epic adjective is used in it, leaving me with scant few of my own to choose from.
Kudos should be given to PH for just how well Osiris Hayden flows. The drone of the synths undulates, expands, and contracts with more conventional elements in an easy, natural manner. Aside from a harsh transition from “Ad Coronam” to “M47eria Prima,” both the music and the feel flow smoothly between songs. But despite the pristine production and wonderful instrumentation, throughout the entire album we are left waiting for more, waiting for something—anything—to happen. The band is reaching for climactic moments, but even on the final track, “Tachophonia,” this level of musical annihilation remains just out of PH’s reach. What we get is an album of near misses, in which it seems that the magical moments we yearn for are always just out of reach, or passed by as the band moves on towards an alternate destination.
PH enlisted recording and production help from folks who have worked with Oranssi Pazuzu (Tom Brooke) and Dark Buddha Rising (Kimmo Nyssonen) in the past, and these individuals utilize their experience to bring added dimension to the aural landscapes presented here. The band has moved farther away from the post-metal sounds of Eternal Hayden, almost completely abandoning traditional-sounding instruments. In fact, it would be easy to envision Osiris Hayden as the solo work of one composer, done entirely electronically with the addition of occasional guitars. There is nothing with the album’s production that we can be displeased about.1 It’s the songs themselves that just don’t grab us and hold on.
What PH have created here isn’t really a conventional album; it’s more like a soundtrack to a trippier version of Blade Runner. Much like the band’s last album, Osiris Hayden is a sonically accomplished piece of work, spatially epic and loaded with juicy samples. The problem is longevity. Aside from hallucinogen-fueled raves, I just can’t figure out when it would be appropriate to play this album. While it’s marginally more entertaining than Eternal Hayden was, I don’t see myself returning to this unless someone says “Hey Huck, don’t you have anything weirder you can play for us?” In which case, yes, I do.