Otis Infrastructure New Album ‘In A Room’ Out 01/18/24

There sure is a whole lot of variety on Otis Infrastructure’s album, In A Room. There’s room (so to speak) for the semi-psychedelic “Unclenched Fist,” as well the more straightforward ballad in “Ballet For A Yesterday.” It’s a 12-song cycle of surprises, to put it succinctly.

The act is a three-piece, featuring guitarist/vocalist Dean Essner, Mike Perri on bass and Alex Torres (drums/vocals). Originally from College Park, MD, the trio calls New York City home now. The album features the prog rock-ish single, “In A Room,” as well as a softer, instrumental take on the same with “Room (Reprise), which is driven by jazzy keyboard.

The album closes with “The Red House,” which has a poppy, power-pop groove. It’s sparsely instrumented, with electric guitar and melodic singing. If this was all you’d ever heard by Otis Infrastructure, you might well assume this is an especially pop-ish act from, say, the ‘70s. But this track reveals only one side of this sonically multi angled act.

“Robin Hood” also has pop-leanings. However, it may also remind you of XTC’s early days, where sophisticated instrumentation consistently danced with strong melodies. The story of Robin Hood, that guy that stole from the rich and gave to the poor, will always be looked at with nostalgic glee, whether he actually really existed or not. This track, which begins gently, eventually goes into a harder vocal section that comes off yelled, toward its end. It also includes a guitar crescendo at the conclusion that finishes it off with a bang. “Static Unlearned,” which immediately follows after, couldn’t be more different. Although it also includes fine guitar work, this is guitar of a much softer, picked variety, rather than the full on rock instrumentation of what precedes it.

The group can be heard at a galloping pace during “Razor’s Edge,” which is propelled by a fast strummed electric guitar rhythm. It’s electric, yes, but still much gentler than much of the harder rock that’s out there these days. The guitars on this – and the rest of the album – never sound like they’re about to overtake the vocals (or any of the other aural elements found within, for that matter). “String & Vine,” tamps the volume down further and is built upon a hushed acoustic guitar rhythm, which sounds a little like a folk song being sung around a campfire.

Unusually, “Movie On A Lake” starts off, not with keyboard or guitar, but with drums. It’s about as close as anything on this project gets to dance-able music – which is not close at all. It does have a beat you can bob your head to, though. Then with “Gale Winds,” the group gives us a song that – although not especially dance-y – is nevertheless soulful.


Good luck to anyone foolish enough to try and slap a genre label on Otis Infrastructure’s In A Room album. There’s just so much more going on, stylistically, than what’s found on most albums. No matter what sound the group goes for, however, these players hit their marks each and every time. It might be titled In A Room, but it certainly colors wonderfully outside the proverbial box.
-Dan MacIntosh