Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cassette Review: Oceanray "Worship/Eavesdropping" (Sweet Sounds Records)

[$5 // Edition of 25 //]

If you've ever listened to a band or any type of music before, it will prepare you for what you are about to hear from Oceanray though it will only do so in the most basic of senses.    It's like saying you can count to ten so you're ready to tackle some college level math courses.     You can have a general idea in knowing what numbers are and all, but you will still not really be that prepared for this one.
The music of Oceanray operates on three different levels, which is almost like 3D and for the record most artists operate on only two levels (which I think of as being the musical parts and then the vocal parts)   The music of Oceanray is perhaps the most complex of any musician I have ever heard as they take what your ears are used to hearing, chop it up and bring it back at you in a different, yet still pleasant way.

I got this CD once from an artist I won't call out by name, but basically the press release for it said about how layered the album was and that you could listen to it with headphones on or even on just a second or third listen through speakers you'd hear something different.   They basically presented this as an album that was really multiple albums and, of course, back in the early 2000's, I listened to that CD and never heard anything more than the pop rock that was right there on the surface.

In some ways, "Worship/Eavesdropping" has that multi-layer facet to me that makes me think of that CD from all those years ago, probably over a decade now, and it's not quite the same idea but I'm not sure such a thing can exist.     At times, the music of Oceanray on this cassette can be straight up FNL and at other times it can be percussion heavy as well.   There is that aspect to the songs as well that seem to bring out more of the music than the vocals, so even though there are a decent amount of lyrics it does seem closer to instrumental.

Bands I can compare this with are few.   It has hints of Flaming Lips and Neil Young, but not a lot else for me if only because of the presentation.     What you have to imagine now is something you won't think possible perhaps, but it does indeed exist and Oceanray pulls it off to perfection so please believe me.    Take a band like Copeland and just think of their general sound and song structure that probably a million other bands are using in verse/chorus/verse type of form.  

Now take those pieces of the songs, chop them up and put them back together.   You might think that means just having verse/verse/chorus, but it doesn't.   I'm talking about really chopping these things up and piecing them back together, within clips of seconds not minutes.    Imagine if I told you that not only could you do that and have it sound amazing, but you could do it and have it actually sound better than the original version.     That is exactly what Oceanray pulls off, seemingly creating new sounds from those old standard ideas.

Vocally, the singer can have his voice just as chopped amongst the static as the music itself.    He sings beautifully and unlike anyone I have ever heard.   At times he doesn't really scream, but he just kind of belts it out with a certain amount of force.    It's just those big belly notes that not everyone can hit.  (You're supposed to sing from your belly, right?  I always forget because I'm not a professional singer or trained or anything)

One last thing to say about this cassette and then I want to just leave it for you to experience yourself.    When I looked at this title, I couldn't figure out what it reminded me of exactly.   I know that the "Worship" part might make you think this is one of "those" bands, but whatever Oceanray believes religiously doesn't seem to come out in the songs.     I realized that it reminds me of Glassjaw's "Worship and Tribute", which is my second favorite Glassjaw album, and yes, they do in some odd way share characteristics.  

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