If you know Oceansize, rest assured you're going to be blown away.
If you don't : It's time to get acquainted.
Oceansize are a truly under-rated band : largely ignored by the media, adored by the fans. I've been around since the beginning and they just get better and better. The introduction of a new bass player has created a new sound and direction without losing any of their former creativity - in fact it's added an extra dimension / progression that moves further away from mainstream accessibility ( Heaven Alive ) and into a whole new world of powerful, sweeping movements and some moments of absolute genius ( well, there is a track called Savant.. )
So how does it sound, what's it all about?
I'm not going to do the whole track by track thing - I'll leave that for you to discover on release. My personal favourite track is 'Trail of Fire' - a beautiful tune with the most powerful final 4 minutes any song has ever had. There are a multitude of references to their influences ...you'll find Cardiacs fighting Pink Floyd whilst being rudely prodded by Meshuggah who in turn are being tortured by Radiohead singing NIN songs to a King Crimson jam but it's all out of time and completely OCEANSIZE.
Ultimately, they sound like themselves, doing exactly what they want to do - and that's a rare thing - it's also utterly brilliant.
This is one of the finest albums of this or any other generation.
on 2 October 2007
I thought long and hard about how to describe the sound of Oceansize and 'immense' is the only word I can think of to do them justice. Undoubtedly at the heavier end of the spectrum, they are difficult to pigeon-hole in terms of a scene or a genre. There are elements of Tool, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Led Zep and a dozen other influences. The musical direction veers between brutal crashing power chords and tortured vocals to gentle picking and beautiful ambient, whispered intimate moments. But there is no 'tortured' emo heavy/soft affectation. This is sheer musicality and emotion.
Whereas their previous album 'Everyone Into Position' hinted at greatness, 'Frames' looks down from the lofty heights of supreme musical achievement. There's not a commercial or catchy sounding track on the entire album, yet it magisterially drifts into your subconscious, kicking down long locked doors to unexplored areas of sound and imagination.
The best album by a British band in years!
on 7 February 2008
No, I'm not joking - I discovered this wonderful band around Christmas time and their songs have not left my Ipod since then. I could list superlative after superlative for the band and this genius album, but what's the point - you get the idea from my heading, hopefully!
I'm not normally one to be so gushing about a band or album, but the song writing and musicianship here is staggering. They do get better on every album for me (the previous album, Everyone Into Position is a close second, only matching Radiohead's OK Computer for a perfect half dozen run of songs between tracks 3 and 8, but that's for another review!).
Frames is perhaps a slow burner in places. Songs like Trail Of Fire (my utter favourite - an absolute gem of a song only matched to my mind by My Bloody Valentine's "Soon") and Unfamiliar are pretty instant in terms of catchiness. Other songs, such as the awesome title track, Savant or Only Twin take time to digest - such is the scale of their grandiosity.
Ignore this band - and particularly this album - at your peril. They deserve to be MASSIVE - happily for me, they are not. They are like a Secret Garden which nobody else knows about. During the last 3 minutes of Trail Of Fire it makes me think nobody else should be allowed (or even bother) to make music after this high water mark. A wonder to behold. Go and treat your ears (and your mind) - buy this album!
on 30 August 2007
I've said it before and I'll say it again, these guys effortlessly represent the absolute pinnacle of music coming out of the UK now and for the last 3 years...
Some of the work on display here is nothing short of astonishing, sweeping soundscapes merging with awe-inspiring hooks, soring vocals and an overall sense of something... I can't put my finger on it, safe to say there is nothing else out there quite like it.
Possibly the only downside to the music on offer here is that it takes a while for the "sound" to sink in, maybe more than 5-6 complete play throughs over a period of days (maybe even weeks)....but once it does; once you "get" it, you will be hooked forever more...
on 3 October 2007
Can these guys do any wrongs i doubt it completely, i saw these guys at "the rescue rooms" in Nottingham last night the album was waiting at home to be opened but i decided not to spoil the surprise i'd get when they played new tracks at the gig.
Totally stunning (thanks for the autograph Mike on my ticket - i just couldnt resist it), the set these guys played was immense, they are an immense group maybe not as assectaple to many including the record press as groups like HIM or even MOGWAI but these guys rock.
The sound they produce on this new album confirms their greatness to me, each and every track has all the elements that we've become accustomed to from the very first "a very still movement ep" to the last "new pin single" this album creates textures and feelings inside that make you wish you could play it all day. I for one won't ever get fed up or tired by this album as i think we do with some albums, Oceansize are a great band with a great sound and it all comes together perfectly
I refuse to pick out individual tracks because they are all fantastic in their own right, this album is produced perfectly no loss of sound quality and in this modern fast produced and rushed business called "rock music" it makes a difference to find a group that refuse to bite the bullet and produce fast rubbish radio based music
this is a stunning album by a great group who keep you on the edge of your seat well done guys ...
SEE THEM LIVE ... BUY THE ALBUM ... SEE THEM LIVE ... BUY THE ALBUM ... SEE THEM LIVE ... BUY THE ALBUM ... SEE THEM LIVE ... BUY THE ALBUM ... GET THE IDEA?
Top notch stuff .... spot on .... greatness falls on those who are supported and continue to let their music flow .... welcome to Oceansize
on 2 October 2007
The echelon of greatness, Oceansize have long been considered neo-progressive but a closer listen to the velveteen, layered textures of their music will reveal that the majority of the soundscapes and the sheer depth of everything they do is achieved mainly through production. And Christ, they know how to produce a record. Chris Sheldon is one of the best in the business and Frames stands as a testimony.
Firstly a quick recap. Effloresce is released in 2003. The name means "to blossom forth", which is what that record did. Oceansize blossomed forth with their debut, the songs, more often than not, blossom forth from cryptic musings drenched in guile and deception into loud, soaring outbursts of energetic fury. And as an album, Effloresce effloresces very nicely into an almost tangible blossom with the last three tracks at around ten minutes each. The record covers a whole array of styles but is primarily rock based with progressive and metal influences. The schizophrenic and erratic time signatures of their more unusual numbers carry forth into a couple of songs on their next LP, the highly polished and ultimately complete Everyone Into Position, released in 2005, spawning two killer singles in the form of the almost radio-friendly Heaven Alive and the skittish, all over the place New Pin, a song I feel is at the absolute pinnacle of pretty much everything, ever. Other impressive songs from that album include the exhausting opener The Charm Offensive, the beautiful, meandering Music for a Nurse, and the epic, almost supernatural closer The Last Wrongs.
Frames is both an extension and a simplification of the last two records, and simultaneously and perhaps stubbornly, it is neither. The production this time around is better than ever, as the record lures you in with the opener Commemorative 9/11 T-Shirt, Vennart begs "try to keep your composure, I'm just having a laugh" and the effect of the overwhelming amount of stuff going on is instantaneous. The first single taken from the album is Unfamiliar, a sort of mechanical yet liquid-like bastard child of Women Who Love Men Who Love Drugs and A Homage to a Shame. Oceansize have the uncanny tendency to grow on you gradually like a slow, sly disease. Frames is a long record. The shortest song clocks in at just over six and a half minutes, meaning that time and energy is required as an input more than ever before in order to become fully appreciative of the gorgeous, gorgeous sound. Other tracks which have already impressed me are An Old Friend of the Christy's, which starts off with bleak, death-knell drums before evolving into a frenzy of overdriving guitars and I believe there are some string-symphonies in there somewhere too. Trail of Fire, which is track three, ends in the most energetic dying four minutes I've just about ever heard. Sleeping Dogs and Dead Lions is offensively heavy and fast with hardcore influences, the intent was to shake you up a bit but in reality it shell shocks and disorientates. The last true track (disregarding the eleven minute bonus Voorhees) is a song called The Frame which reminds me a little bit of the closing track from Everyone... because of its epic feel, and big-sounding, sweeping guitars towards the end.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Oceansize are a largely underrated and for the most part ignored band which can only be truly experienced first-hand. My job here is made more difficult because they defy description and seriously can't be pigeonholed into anything. They are a rock band, they are a progressive band, an emotional band and an ambient band. They are all of these things at the same time as they aren't exactly any of them. The contrasts in the music serve to disorientate and confound those who have to know what they're listening to. But spend a little time and allow yourself to be submerged and smothered by the band's thick, viscous sound and you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. Outstanding.
on 7 November 2007
Musically speaking I'm very difficult to please, but this has gone straight into my top five albums ever made.
It's impossible to describe, I can't say 'it sounds like so snd so mixed with so and so', because it just doesn't sound like anything else.
It has soul, it has dexterity, it has extreme cleverness, it has lovely jaw dropping melodies that transport you to another world and let you float for a while.
Why haven't you bought it yet?
on 12 October 2007
I've been a fan of the 'Size since the release of Effloresce and they have always been one of my favourite musical discoveries. I often think about the fact that Oceansize just don't receive the commercial acclaim they deserve, but on the other side of the coin, they are so far removed from the mainstream that they could never really hope to get it. And also i like to have them all to myself.
Frames is another example of why Oceansize are such amazing songwriters and musicians. I'm tired of mainstream albums that are released for maximum profits and have little to no substance about them whatsoever. Oceansize make music as an art form, to be experienced and revelled in.
One thing that has been common with all Oceansize releases is moments of sheer musical genius and euphoria; on Effloresce it was the closing three songs of WWLMWLD, SMBS and Long Forgotten, on Music For Nurses it was Paper Champion, on Everyone Into Position it was Music For A Nurse and Ornament/Last Wrongs, and now on Frames the closing three songs of An Old Friend Of The Christy's, Sleeping Dogs and Dead Lions, and The Frame. As you hear the massive crescendo of The Frame unleash itself in all it's glory, you will know what true music really is.
The thirty second gap between The Frame and Vorhees separates the final track from the rest of the album, as it is a bonus track. And a very good song it is too.
Essentially, buy this album, listen, be enlightened.
on 11 December 2010
Why are this band so criminally overlooked....I saw them play in front of 73 people in Exeter two weeks ago and wondered why, after 12 years, 4 Albums, A DVD boxed set of live performances, and continuous touring they haven't become as big as, say, Muse....or Doves...or NIN...If you want to find out about this best kept secret, buy this album...it's stunning....Layer upon layer of structured guitar, the best drumming you've heard since Bonham...Heavy;Soft;Loud;Quiet;Melodic;Harsh, but overall a beautiful experience.............Support this band..
on 4 November 2012
One of the biggest travesties in modern music is that prog rockers Oceansize were never as big as they deserved to be. When it comes down to crafting complex yet absorbing songs Oceansize were the very best and 'Frames' was their masterpiece. Despite having only 8 songs it is over 75 minutes long and yet it never drags as each song changes signature or transforms mid way through to always keep you hooked. A lot must be said for Mike Vennart whos voice is excellent here as are his lyrics, while drummer Mark Heron proves hes one of the best drummers in music with some incredible drumming on display.
'Commemorative 9/11 T-Shirt' starts things off as it flows along underpinned by Heron's powerful drumming, Vennart's calm voice and some great guitar work. Next 'Unfamiliar' is the shortest song here, even though its 6 and a half minutes long, and is build on some excellent rhythms. The next two songs might be the best here. 'Trial Of Fire' is as innovative and complex as it gets, starting off with soft guitars and great vocals it changes into a progressive tour de force. The latter 3 and a half minutes of the song are some of the most intense and powerful i've ever hear, with Heron performing some jaw dropping drumming. While 'Savant' is the albums most beautiful moment with some soft vocals and swirling guitars before building to a fantastic string-based conclusion.
'Only Twin' is more subdued, built around a keyboard before becoming more of a beast as it progresses. 'An Old Friend Of Christy's' Is the most atmospheric song, being mainly creepy sounds and the bang of bass and drums until it explodes into a rock out middle section. Penultimate track 'Sleeping Dogs and Dead Lions' is the heaviest song here, built around grunge like guitars and frantic drumming with a fantastic conclusion. Final song 'The Frame' is a wonderful closer. The bittersweet guitars and atmospheric vocals make for a stunning conclusion.
Frames is easily one of the best rock albums in years and was certainly Oceansize's high point.