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The Color Study Pull You Into Their Scenic Canyons

The Bend band contemplate the sheer weight of the universe on their new EP.

The Color Study invite you to take a deep dive into their world with their majestic and imposing EP Canyons Pt. 1 — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

The universe is an impossible beast to understand, its vastness a cold and open question, a void that dwarfs us into something akin to nothingness. For Scott Oliphant, this enigma of the universe looms heavy, a riddle that he explores through the music of The Color Study, a sonic power-house based out of Bend, OR. Their newest EP Canyons, petite though it is with its three-song tracklist, stretches wide open in an attempt to comprehend the sheer weight of the universe, our minuscule place within it, and the hot, taut wire of love that somehow holds us together. The album is lush and expansive, a rock epic painted with flourishes of horns, dark beds of synths, the wistful melodies of Oliphant’s questions, which have only become more urgent with the passage of time. “The older I get, the more precious things are.” He says. “The more losing things feels very close.”

Throughout Canyons, which is in and of itself is a metaphor for the existential void, Oliphant oscillates between states of anxiety and peace, the latter finding its footing in an unwavering belief in the power of love, which seems to be the only divinity that can offer him some semblance of comfort.

The record launches headfirst into this idea with the opening track An Anthem, an aptly named avowal of love, a promise to somehow return to those who are precious to us long after our bodies have disintegrated. “The end is right on time / Rearranged now, we’re redesigned / I will find you, I’ll always try” Oliphant screams into a rush of horns and guitars, the darkness of some unknown future split open by the power of human spirit. The song is cathartic, buoyed by the undeniable chemistry of the six piece who propel lead single An Anthem forward with almost jubilant urgency, the spirited voices, the dark synths, the driving drums — a united force against the emptiness.

The EP wavers back with Life On A String, a chilly, piano-driven portrait of a person no longer tethered to the world, floating into nothingness. Canyons finds some resolution in its third and titular movement, a moving, patient conversation with the darkness. Here Oliphant finds that the answer to his unrest lies in the very pursuit of evidence of love across time and space.

The Color Study formed in 2020 with a self-titled pandemic record that was written, performed, and recorded entirely by Oliphant. A long-time drummer and guitarist, Oliphant spent 20 years playing in projects in Austin amidst a burgeoning music scene that saw the rise of Spoon, Explosions In The Sky, Okkerville River and many more projects which continue to influence The Color Study’s sound to this day.

Oliphant, who had fallen in love with the craft of songwriting through his work as a producer and recording engineer, felt compelled to begin writing his own songs after the end of a significant relationship. He began to collaborate with local musicians during the recording process of the band’s second album Future Past Present Tense, which united him with Melissa Atillo on keys and vocals, Miguel Mendoza on horns, Steven Reinhardt on guitar and Matt Jackson on bass. They would later be joined by Sean Garvin on drums, which would round out the six-piece that we hear on Canyons.

The EP marks a natural progression in the sound of the band, which, no longer encumbered by social distancing requirements, was able to hone their sound playing live in the local Bend music scene and up and down the West Coast. With Oliphant at the engineering helm, The Color Study tracked the record live at a lofty cabin they rented outside of town, each musician able to bring their own artistry to their parts in real time. The collaboration feels effortless, bringing a communal warmth to the songs even as they explore the frigid nothingness. It is a fitting representation of the love to which Canyon clings.

“If the universe is a hundred trillion years old and I get to spend 60 or 70 or 80 years (if I’m lucky) with somebody I care about,” Oliphant says. “That’s almost mathematically impossible. Somehow that makes me feel better in the face of the vastness of everything.”

Listen to Canyons Pt. 1 below, watch The Color Study play the title track above, and meet up with them on their website, Facebook and Instagram.