Operator Music Band – Puzzlephonics I & II: PSA

Operator Music Band (OMB) are a quartet of clean and efficient musicians from Brooklyn. With an apparent penchant for primary colors and a directness of tone, the band led by Jared Hiller and Dara Hirsch have a particular vision that lays human-scale passions over a precise appreciation of sound. The music that emerges from the band is deeply good, and the videos that they shoot are mesmerizing.

Have you ever thrown a piece of almost-cooked spaghetti at the ceiling to see how long it would stick? This slight act of cuisine-borne rebellion holds a childlike delight in playing with known constructs – there’s fun, there’s excitement and there are questions. “How and when will this thing land?” “Why does it make sense to throw spaghetti on the ceiling… it just looks good, right?” There is something about the music of OMB that makes a listener want to throw spaghetti at the ceiling. Let’s talk about it for a bit…

OMB’s album, Puzzlephonics I & II gathers together a series of previously heard, and previously unheard tunes from the work of the band. If you were to think of this collection as two EPs that have met, married and produced a new joint-identity you’d be entertaining a thought I’d like you to have. There is a contrast in the materials here, but they clearly belong together. The cohesion of textures, subjects and sounds is nothing short of spectacular.

Played over speakers this album is something your neighbors deserve to hear, and in some cultures you may be considered a wanker for not sharing. Through headphones there’s a strange intimacy to the people whose voices tell very real stories in a kind of cut-out set of verses. Lyrically things are more emotive than comprehensive, so let’s just go ahead and call it poetry.

There aren’t many bands that can sing about the hollow dread of a medical procedure whilst being so joyously compelling on the dance floor. Check out “Creative Tube Bending” and the dark humor, keyboard wizardry and (almost) disco cymbal work will get you on your feet.

If you’ve read about OMB elsewhere, or if you’ve seen them out on tour, you’d have heard words like “Krautrock” being thrown around in descriptions of the band. True, it’s fair to assume that certain bands from a certain genre have influenced the approach to craft explored on Puzzlephonics I & II, however, for all the symmetry and drive of songs that populate the collection there is also a balance of humor, warmth, bathos, pathos, and chaos.

Operator Music Band Puzzlephonics I 2

The precision that Hirsh (audio-tech) brings to proceedings is wonderfully undone with the passion, and sometimes sardonic turn of phrase that gets employed as she sings, or as Hiller sings, or when synths simply warble, blip and bring crazy, seemingly chaotic textures. There’s an intelligence that prefers to not be any one one thing at any one particular time. Check out the vocal track on “EE UNSH” Hirsh hits beast mode on the beauty dial before pogo beats break in, smash shit up and produce a new kind of loveliness.

This is an album that curates cleverly from all arenas of culture. And while there’s a clear appreciation of process in the self-effacing awareness of Hiller and Hirsh, the influences are organic and not contrived. They’re not chasing anything here, and so they’re expressing things on their own terms.

Puzzlephonics I & II is an album of very serious fun wrapped in an album of very fun seriousness. OMB are a band that you need to add to your party playlist, unless of course you’d prefer to sit on the floor and mispronounce the word “Didacticism” to people you’re failing to impress.

We should also pause briefly on the artwork employed by the band. Any fans of L.G. Claret’s essential book Integral Principles of the Structural Dynamics of Flow will truly enjoy the aesthetic that OMB deploy here.

Anyway – over at popbollocks we were so moved by the music of Operator Music Band we issued a demand sheet, requesting the band make a Public Service Announcement video addressing the kind of thing audiences should expect when pressing ‘Play’ on Puzzlephonics I & II. Because OMB also enjoy throwing spaghetti at the ceiling they responded well to our demands. Here’s what they came up with…




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