German rock four piece Okta Logue have released this, an EP entitled Transit, which combines tracks from their previous album, as well as an anticipatory glance toward their upcoming LP, Tales of Transit City. Though clearly meant to be a kind of “catch-up” EP for the U.S. market, this record could fool some listeners into thinking it is a full-fledged album all on its own. This is due in part to the presence of the twenty-minute centerpiece, “Decay,” at the latter end of the album. And even if it ultimately serves as a sort of teaser for the fuller experience, Transit is an intriguing and enjoyable listen.
Foremost, the band seems to have an interesting handle on who they are. Toeing a line where they are not quite strange enough to be considered experimental, but also not quite ordinary enough to be just a regular ol’ rock band, Okta Logue seem to thrive in this median mode, where the music doesn’t push but doesn’t lag, and the guitars suggest the six-string heroics of early-nineties guitar rock (Guns n’ Roses, Pearl Jam) with a smidgen more restraint.
Take the opening and title track for example, which jaunts along, lead by the chameleon-like guitars which switch between an almost surf twang, dissonant drones and straight-ahead distorted riffing without so much as a wink. The vocals sway pleasantly between these washes and carry the song through all sorts of moods in its near seven-minute length. It doesn’t carry the pretension of an “epic,” though, as it just moves between these moods and modes as if they were ordinary verse-chorus-verse transitions.
The same could be said for the aforementioned “Decay,” which proceeds similarly through a wealth of interesting musical ideas: a dreary and reverberating wah-wah-drenched intro, a manic dance-prog interlude seven minutes in and an almost cheeky acoustic coda are some of the apparent highlights here. One thing that handicaps the track a little bit is a certain dependence on the old jammer’s standby of frequent guitar leads between these wonderfully eclectic sections. Though the leads are tasteful throughout, their bookending presence on the track seems to spoil a bit of the fun.
However, though the album serves its rock with quite a level of craftsmanship and confidence, the band clearly has an open mind to stepping out of their comfort zone somewhat. “Bright Lights,” a quirky sixties-style track with Dylan-esque organ runs and bubblegum backing vocals, gives a breezy change of pace to the guitar-centric mood of the rest of the tracks, while a seemingly tacked-on, hyper-electronic four-minute remix of “Decay” suggests the band is willing to experiment with their sound and allow left-field influences to bleed into the proceedings. Overall, this record serves as a solid reminder of Okta Logue’s past, but also as an equally solid suggestion of their future. It’s a well-chosen mix that feels representative of their artistic abilities and potential without giving away the whole picture.