Friday, 17 September 2010

Ocean's alive

NEMS were the days.

I remember back in the early 70's when I lovingly placed a 12" disc with The NEMS logo proudly gleaming from the label onto the turntable of my Dansette, complete with an old penny taped to the top of the adapted for stereo cartridge.

The crackle of the run-in. The slight hiss from the cloth covered single speaker.

My heart was in my mouth. The crackle continued and turned into what sounded like rain. Hell, it was rain. A church bell chimed. Then all hell was let loose. A riff. Not just a riff. The riff. Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath. My sphincter was almost rendered useless. The power. The menace. The darkness.

Self Preserved While The Bodies Float Up
released 08/09/2010 *****

Well, I've been transported back there. This time no Dansette, hiss or rumble. But my god, Part Cardiac, the magnificent and moody opener to Oceansize's latest epic Self Preserved While The Bodies Float Up did the same to my poor sphincter that Mr Iommi et all managed nearly 40 years ago.

What a start. Could the rest of the album stand up to it? Hell yes.

This is a magnificent work. Not predicatbly long (as most artists/record companies appear to do de rigeur to painstakingly fill the maximum 74 mins of CD format) this masterpiece weighs in at 51 minutes. And it's a 51 minute journey everyone should buy a ticket for.

It meanders from dark to light. Heavy and moody to plaintive and melancholy. Beauty and the beats. It boasts one of the greatest song titles ever; Build us a rocket then rocket-building cunt (to give it its full spectacular title). It is, without a doubt, one of the very finest albums of this year. Indeed of many a year.

Vennart: Hungry.

For those without an appetite for the ├╝ber-heavy, don't be daunted by the opening with its dark, maruading heavy riffola, the album, while as heavy as hell in parts offers a wonderful canvas deliciously painted with all manner of light and shade.

Complex time signatures, wonderful interventions by spine-tingling accidentals and diversions. The production is tight yet never over-lavish or indulgent. Fresh from his live stint with Biffy Clyro, Mike Vennart's guitar work is, as ever, complex, considered and spellbinding.

But it's not all twiddly, onanistic rambling; nope, tunes abound. By the pound. Some, even catchy; Oscar acceptance speech will have hats on the sides of heads and whistling like Roger Whitaker. Well, maybe. Beauty and grace swim to the surface on Silent/Transparent and Pine.

This is a truly marvellous collection. By far the band's best and most diverse yet. Buy it!

There is hope for music. Real music. And bands like this, while thankfully they'll never wear meat hats at MTV awards shows and never (non-ironically) use autotune or appear on T4, will always lend us this optimism.

There is a movement (diverse and non-related) huddled in underground bunkers and sweaty venues reclaiming live music that's neither poppy, obliquely and contrivedly antagonistic or antisocial. Genuine musicianship. Call it prog, call it Britass, call it post rock. Call it whatever. Just rejoice in it.

Big up bands like Karnivool, Proceed, Periphery. File in the same section as Vetiver, The Mars Volta, Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer. Total Genius.

Man, I'm happy.

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