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Deluge Grander - Oceanarium CD (album) cover


Deluge Grander


Symphonic Prog

3.82 | 94 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars The word DELUGE is an English word that can mean a great flood, a heavy downpour or can mean to overrun or inundate. Dan Britton is back with his highly innovative symphonic prog band to bring us something even GRANDER than what came before. Yes, DELUGE GRANDER returns and living up to their name unleashes a veritable torrent of music in the form of the band's fourth full length album OCEANARIUM. While it may have seemed that Britton was playing back-and-forth with his two bands by releasing one album from one and then one from the next, it seems that the Birds And Buildings project has been put on hold while DELUGE GRANDER, well could get even GRANDER than anyone thought possible. As with the other three albums, OCEANARIUM is a dense and heavy ride through a sophisticated swirl of never-ending progginess that harkens back to the 70s in similar style and production, yet somehow feels very contemporary in the second decade of the 21st century with its grandiloquent larger-than-life elegance as it prances around like a symphonic prog pony on all those classic 70s albums and then back to the here and now.

OCEANARIUM follows the 2014 "Heliotians" as the second album in a 3-level 7-album series which purportedly will be followed by the album "Lunarians" open to the public possibly as early as 2018. While this middle section of the first level of an ongoing theme has much in common with the previous albums which came before, in sophistication and style, OCEANARIUM takes all of the attributes of a typical DELUGE GRANDER and creates a much denser and craftier manner of orchestrating the large number of instruments on board. Unlike the previous offerings, this one is exclusively instrumental without a vocal peep finding its way into the mix. There are eight tracks on board and are accompanied by stunning artwork in a lavishly designed packaging ( a 20-page full color booklet with artwork representing each track) with each track representing a stage of the loose concept that narrates a story about a rat-man who unluckily falls off of a building and into the lands of competing tribes and after fleeing from the conflicted areas only manages to become lost without the certainty of ever finding his way back to where he began.

While Dan Britton is the undisputed leader of this project, handles the keyboards, guitars and a plethora of other instruments, he is joined by Dave Berggon on guitar, Brett d'Anon on bass and guitars and Patrick Gaffney on percussion. While these guys have the chops to make a totally satisfying prog behemoth all by themselves, DELUGE GRANDER go for broke on OCEANARIUM with seven additional musicians lending a hand on trumpet, oboe, sax, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, trombone, cello and violin. Although Britton is modest and doesn't want to include his long list of contributions as a multi-instrumentalist, also included on this album are the sitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, xylophone, hammered dulcimer, hand drums and oh yeah, can't forget about the tambourine! The density of OCEANARIUM is thicker than a uranium atom with enough radioactive zest to please even the most hardened of proggers as it feels as expansive as the Pacific melding with the Atlantic with no clear boundaries set between them but yet each segment still exuding its own personality in the nebulous mix.

Because of the fact that this album is so chock full of sounds and creative ideas, i solicited a bit of info regarding the storyline to aid as a training wheel for those of us who don't have the patience to unravel all the mysteries through countless listens. Here are a few comments about the eight tracks delivered to me by Dan Britton himself:


Track 1 - "A Numbered Rat, a High Ledge, and a Maze of Horizons" [11:32]
 Heavy to symphonic to fusion to heavy


Track 2 - "Drifting Inner Skyline Space" [8:28] Can (the Inner Space) meets Marillion (the Skyline Drifters), though perhaps only titularly


Track 3 - "The Blunt Sun and the Hardened Moon" [15:25] Sun Ra and Moondog battle for the soul of Rat-Man


Track 4 - "Finding a Valley in a Gray Area on a Map" [3:24] 
Track 5 - "Finding a Shipwreck in a Valley in an Ocean" [6:20] These two tracks were originally one 10-minute piece but were split to fit the album better onto two LPs


Track 6 - "Tropical Detective Squadron" [14:10] The soundtrack to an imaginary cop show from the 1960's, 1970's, or 1980's


Track 7 - "Marooned and Torn Asunder" [8:06] A combination of musical ideas from "Saruned" off Heliotians and "Torn Amoonder" off Lunarians


Track 8 - "Water to Glass / The Ultimate Solution" [12:31] Inspired by the PFM album Per un Amico, especially the songs "Appena un Po" and "Per un Amico"


Britton cites some of the usual 70s suspects as influences such as King Crimson and Genesis as obvious reference points but also found many lesser known bands as inspiration giving credit to artists as diverse as Kayo Dot, Kenso, Maneige, Miriodor, Semiramis, Asia Minor, Kotebel and Crucis. While it is obvious that some of the symphonic keyboard styles are derived from the Japanese band Kenso, the more bombastic rock heft can clearly be heard from the Spanish band Kotebel as well as the extra symphonic touches coming from many of the aforementioned and beyond. Personally i find OCEANARIUM and its narrations through music prospect reminds me the most of Pekka Pohjola's classic musical narrative on "Harakka Bialoipokku" as the music is the only form of explanation of emotional connection to the storyline at hand and like the late Finnish maestro's best efforts, DELUGE GRANDER effortlessly convey the emotional rollercoaster ride through the sophistication of the musical tapestry of sound alone.

One other influence not cited that immediately comes to mind for me as well is the sophisticated symphonic texturing approaches of the American band Happy The Man with their light and uplifting overall mood elevating effects. In the end, DELUGE GRANDER succeed in amalgamating all of the prog heroes who came before yet sound themselves like no other progressive rock band and display in vivid sonic form exactly how highly complex prog should be done in the 21st century while still firmly placed within the ongoing traditions already set during the heyday of the 70s. OCEANARIUM not only takes the band's compositional approach to a personal higher level but also ups the bar for symphonic prog section of prog in general. Even for a hardened proghead like me, this one was a dense and impenetrable experience on the first spin, but subsequent listens have allowed it to sink in on a deeper level of consciousness as well as taking in the countless passages that are sewn together like a royal cloak in the high court. Here we are in the year 2017 and a new classic is born somewhere in the tiny US state of Maryland. Bravissimo! Great job, guys! Looking forward to the continuing saga.

4.5 but prog this good needs to be rounded up here :)

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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