Sometimes the most amazing albums are inspired by equally amazing source material. Such is the case with "A Memories Chase," the first full-length by the Chicago-via-Miami band, Ohvaur.
In fact, the band’s main driving force, Timothy Den, has amassed plenty of experience to inspire a 10-disc box set of music. Over the past two decades, Tim has been the Assistant Editor of Lollipop magazine; founded his own website, Transform Online; fronted the Boston-based Kimone, a spacious and driving rock band whose work was produced by former Jawbox head J. Robbins and logged time onstage opening for the likes of Spoon and The Album Leaf; and scored numerous short films, including "Bitch," which premiered at the 2007 edition of the Sundance Film Festival.
Through all that, Tim was constantly dogged by an unsettling truth: he was living here in the U.S. illegally.
Tim was born in Taiwan, but at the age of 10, legally moved to Miami with his mother and sister, where they lived for seven years (with a good chunk of that time also spent in Ecuador) before a legal mess ensued, forcing them to return to Taiwan. They managed to make their way to Canada, and then back into the U.S., but were forced to live in fear and anonymity for nearly 20 years.
Now a legal citizen, Tim is finally ready to open up about this harrowing period of his life, starting with "A Memories Chase."
Mind you, the album isn’t about the details of these experiences (the full story is in a personal letter written by Tim – available in English [http://db.tt/fSvoT1LN], Spanish [http://db.tt/pY5ttTZq], and Chinese [http://db.tt/lzmZe9Xz] – accompanying this bio). Rather, "A Memories Chase" uses the backdrop of the immigrant experience, and the sounds that Tim has absorbed from his time in Asia, South America, and the States to examine what identity, ethnicity, and "home" means. Too, it is filtered through the hearts and hands of his band, almost all of whom are Latino immigrants or the children of Latino immigrants.
"A Memories Chase" might use the 60+ years of Tim's family history as a starting point, but its themes are much more universal: how we define ourselves through the people, places, and cultures that bring us into this world and shape our being. Or, as he sings on the album, "No one single part / tells me who I am or not."
How this translates musically is through a lush and haunting web of electronic beats and synth washes, augmented by distorted guitars and visceral-yet-understated drumming. Some songs, like "You Chose to Bury Love," stick closer to the pop formula, while others, like the gorgeous album closer "Whole," are fully processed with vocals and instruments melding together beautifully. "A Memories Chase" fulfills the promise of so many bands influenced by the world of '90s shoegaze and '00s IDM, connecting the threads via pure songwriting smarts.
According to Tim, "This is the story I've been waiting to tell since I started making music over 20 years ago." The wait is over, and from the sounds of "A Memories Chase," his patience has paid off in the form of a musically rich and poignant album that speaks to the heart of anyone, no matter their background and what part of the world they call home.
– Robert Ham