Billy Otto – BØRN EP (June 1, 2018)
It’s now official: Billy Otto’s brand has transcended the boundaries of genre.
After teasing a project over the past couple of years with singles like Dreams and Ghosts (We Can’t Let Go), Billy Otto has returned with a fresh take on his own atmospheric sound. Anyone who came into the Billy Otto fanbase through his 2013 release Floating Now will be surprised to be met with a significantly different sonic palate. Gone are the sparse, folky acoustic arrangements of that release. BØRN sees the arrival of electric guitars drenched in chorus and reverb, coupled with dreamy synthesizers, and full-band arrangements that lean decidedly in a more rock direction.
Within the short run time of this EP, everything from indie rock, synth pop, dream pop, shoegaze, psychedelic rock, and even some post-grunge influences can be heard. There is clearly a sense of experimentation and adventure in the music: from the exciting, punchy riff that ends Dreams, to the shifting time signatures of Eyes Like Fire, or the frequent use of futuristic electronic effects, the music itself is, in it’s own way, progressive. Otto also branches out vocally with a more emphatic use of his falsetto voice, most notable on closing track All About You.
The constant element tying this release to his previous work is atmosphere. Otto’s music remains ambient, emotional, dense with textures, and evocative of an other-worldly experience. If his previous album was meant to feel like you were “floating now”, then BØRN has managed to recreate that same sensation, just with a slightly punchier delivery. That being said, the added punchiness is slight. This EP knows that it was meant for relaxation and never pushes into “high energy” territory. For some, this may at times make the record feel slow-paced, but this is simply a by-product of a focused project that never tries to be something it’s not.
While we’re fresh off the release of this new EP, the Spotify numbers for the singles leading up to it don’t lie. The material on BØRN is perfectly suited to expand Otto’s audience, and is a sign of even more good music to come. Ride those waves Billy.
(P.S. I don’t have anything snarky to add to the end of this review so instead I wasted 10 seconds of your life with this sentence. This is the quality content you came here for.)