“It’s a little bit of a conversation with myself,” says Philadelphia’s Ben Rosenbach, the person behind electronic post-rock project Our Alarm Clock. It’s a solo endeavor he’s had for nearly a decade, although he’s written music since he was a teenager. He spent much of his formative years listening to and playing in Christian rock bands with his best friend, even before he became a Christian at 19. Faith and music have always been central to Rosenbach’s identity. In Our Alarm Clock, Rosenbach wrangles the ecstasy of worship-oriented music into a chimera of ambient music, pop, and post-rock – his new LP Time flies. Suns rise and shadows fall. Let time go by. Love is forever over all. is the crystallized result.
If the album’s title sounds like it came out of a fortune cookie, that’s because it did. Rosenbach laughs about that, musing on how these ideas come from the strangest places. That ethos carries over to his music – he’ll hear a riff or melody course through his head even at inopportune moments, and he’ll have to either frantically sing it into his phone, or run home to record it. A rushed lo-fi vocal recording soon becomes soaring synths and lush guitar work, surrounded by steady rhythms.
Well, maybe “soon” is an overstatement. Time flies… has been on Rosenbach’s mind for a few years at this point, and he’s methodically tweaked the stems until they’ve become precise and profound. Take lead single “A Sealed Up Secret Wish” for example, which begins as a meandering synthpop nugget that grows to titanic size, climaxing with explosive guitars and pummeling drums. When the wave eventually rolls back, the listener is left with the original piano riff that inspired the song.
When he mentions conversing with himself, Rosenbach’s specifically talking about “Sunrise,” one of the three tracks on the LP with vocals. The image is funny for a predominantly instrumental album, but it works, and applies to its thematic foundation – learning balance. “The words in the chorus on ‘Sunrise’ are existential,” he says, cheekily mentioning that he’s not trying to sound too much like a deep fourteen-year-old. At the end of the song, he responds with a plea to “stay and watch the sunrise.”
Much of Our Alarm Clock’s music has focused on finding balance and rest. Thirty-two years old and a father, Rosenbach explores a different landscape on Time Flies… than when the project began. By the time the final song rolls around, the listener has been taken through sublime peaks and more pacifying passages, never becoming obnoxiously nihilist or naively optimistic, instead stumbling upon its resting place somewhere realistic.