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Oceansize - Frames CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.02 | 302 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is an album I so much wanted to love.

However I found myself disappointed at the direction the band has taken. In their quest for complexity they appear to have further neglected composition. Further, they have abandoned any psychedelic/space rock feel they might once have had. The changes to the band's sound seem to have received wide approval, but I'm not convinced. I set a great deal of store by the vocals on any album, and to my mind the understated, whispered, heavily processed, buried-in-the-mix singing through the majority of this record robs it of warmth and personality. Ultimately the vocals rob the first half of the album of any real passion it might have had, and raise an impenetrable barrier between myself and the music. I understand that others may not have this reaction, but I feel obliged to record it.

'Commemorative T-Shirt' is an excellent opening track, an instrumental lead-in to the album that unfortunately sounds too reminiscent of 'Meredith' from their previous album to give 'Frames' the distinct personality it needs. 'Unfamiliar' has a post-rock beginning, but rapidly descends into alt.rock sensibilities. Nice enough, but I expect OCEANSIZE to be painting on a far broader canvas. To my ear it suffers in comparison to the similar second tracks on their previous albums, being not up to the standard of 'Heaven Alive' and certainly not 'Catalyst'.

'Trail of Fire' and 'Savant' pass in a blur of tedious technical complexity (woo, look at all the different time signatures) and vocal forgettable-ness. The singers either whisper, or have their vocals obscured by annoying fx. Has someone told them they can't sing? If so, what a pity. The great dynamic range of the singers and the musicians alike seem to have been wiped off this record. The guitars are more recessive, the rhythm section louder, the vocalists merely adding texture. 'Savant' is the worse of the two, with the heavily processed vocals almost completely obscured by admirable but ultimately unrewarding drumming. Oh yes, the song grows into a superbly memorable track, with a real symphonic quality when the guest musicians on their strings finally rise to dominate the rhythm, but the damage has been done.

It's not until we get to 'An Old Friend of the Christy's' that the album really comes alive. The band stretch their compositional legs on these longer songs (including the bonus track, 'Voorhees'). I'd quite happily listen to the opening track, 'Savant' and the last four. I would have opened with 'An Old Friend', a slow post-rock builder with wonderful guitar-led melodies. No attempt to throw a million time changes at us, just simple, effective, powerful songwriting. Then when the song explodes half-way through they've taken us with them. 'Sleeping Dogs and Dead Lions' roars at us in a math/tech-metal frenzy, its high energy lifting it above 'Trail' and 'Unfamiliar' from earlier in the album. Fans of MESHUGGAH will recognise and appreciate the riffage. 'The Frame' brings the album to a climactic close, a ballad rising to a powerful orchestral finish.

Yes, it's a good album. More than good. OCEANSIZE have confidence and class, and this is reflected in their music. I do hope they pay more attention to their composition in future, however, and provide us with something of beauty as well as power and complexity. 'Effloresce' showed us they are capable of it.

russellk | 4/5 |


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