The Inside Track: Ohr - 'Golden Ceilings'

Song explanation by Craig Klein

Photo by Christopher Brown 

Golden Ceilings was one of the first tracks written for Walk in the Light. The multi-layered recording carries many of the sonic signatures of the record… swirling organs, mellotron and synths, tremolo guitars, insistent bass and drums on top of an underlying drone meant to imprint on the unthinking mind. Lyrically the track deals with overcoming anxiety, accepting that much of life is out of our individual control and to not let fear keep us from being present in the here and now. 

To be honest, “Golden Ceilings" is really the first proper song on the record. Before I decided to make Walk in the Light a double LP the record was very much 10 discreet tracks. When I decided it felt right to expand the album I started thinking more in terms of sides and flow, connecting one song to the next, and  I knew I wanted Golden Ceilings to be early on side 1. The track that precedes it (It’s On) is meant to kind of set the table and welcome the listener into the world of the album. Everything begins with the drone, strings and synths stacked up before it melts into a short groove I pulled out of a much longer song that I left off the record. The idea was that the opener would present some of the different aspects of the album. I think having that stuff come before makes it really powerful when the bass line kicks in and Golden Ceilings gets going. Michael Hunecke’s bass and Bob Husak’s drumming on this track are just perfect. We recorded them playing over my demo version and their interpretation of my parts just took the song to a whole new level. After those sessions I dug back into the song which I felt like had a whole new life. I did a lot of rearranging, adding and subtracting elements until I hit on the final version. There are so many details in there that maybe you wouldn’t pick up on in the first listen, the pretty acoustic guitars in the verses, the underlying drone, backwards guitars turning into forward guitars, reverse reverb piano and vocal lines, the mellotron strings on the chorus, how the bridge references the track before it and the ending morphs right into the next song…It was crazy to mix. There are also a lot of things that just sort of happened very spontaneously in a kind of unthinking way, like the truly bizarre slightly unhinged guitar solo towards the end of the song. It took me quite a while to relearn how to recreate that for a live performance. All that being said I think the song represents the record really well, it is straightforward, direct and positive. It’s calculated and off the cuff at the same time. I think it could work with just bass, drums and vocals which is why for the single version I started the song off with just bass instead of the drone. When it came to time to think of a visual accompaniment I immediately thought of Todd Mattei’s work. He’s an old friend from the time I lived in Chicago and I love the way he used the abstract visuals to match the feel of the song. He asked me if I had anything in mind and I just kind of laughed and said this music is all about letting go of preconceived notions. Just do what you do.."

Animation created by Chicago-based visual artist and musician Todd Mattei 

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