On “Oshin”


The worst thing about nostalgia is that its an inherently subjective experience, and yet so many of us see it as a Very Specific Thing. For a lot of my generation – myself included – its summoned through memories of VHS tapes, theme parks, classroom supplies, first loves, etc. But have you ever been nostalgic for the last few years of your life? Im met with some incredulousness when I call DIIVs Oshin a “nostalgic” record, but it brings me back to a specific point in my life with such detail that it can be hard to listen to. It came out in June 2012, at the beginning of a summer that I needed saving from. I was taking classes at a school I was becoming more and more disenchanted with, and didnt really know what to do in my spare time. I was playing in a few bands and making my own music, but all my creativity felt forced, like it was for the sake of saying I was doing something. Something about Oshin fits all that. It was written by Zachary Cole Smith as an outlet for his own creativity while he was playing guitar for Beach Fossils, Soft Black and others. Hes spoken on both his krautrock obsession and drug use, and his record is pretty true to that: dreamy, impressionistic jams that either spiral downwards or sink into the couch. Its dark and anxious, but with a blanket of melody you can wrap yourself in for days. The lyrics are sparse, when you can hear them at all, although you get the sense they act as more of an added layer. Its the sound of having something to say, something to feel, but not enough energy to figure out exactly what – probably my own interpretation, but nevertheless, I related. After a whole summer, “Doused” and “Past Lives” felt like a part of me, and even now, hearing them takes me back to strolling the streets of Boston at 3am, looking for a way out. Wikipedia sez nostalgia is “a sentimentality for the past, typically a period or place with happy personal associations”. I wouldnt call it a happy time, but Oshin was definitely a place of solace for me, somewhere that I felt at the very least understood.

Ray Begleiter