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Harald Grosskopf - Oceanheart CD (album) cover


Harald Grosskopf

Progressive Electronic

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4 stars Oceanheart is a dramatic shift in sound compared to Harald Grosskopf's previous album. Where as his debut was rooted firmly in the electronic sounds of the '70s, this album is entirely rooted in the electronic sounds of the '80s. While this sometimes is a bad thing, Grosskopft pulls off this sound very well because of his ability to maintain his established composition skill, only with an updated sound.

The percussion is still prominent throughout, blending seamlessly into the electronic forefront, but as with most percussion in music of the '80s, they seem artificial with echo effect. Fortunately, this doesn't subtract anything from this album considering that it actually works very well with the overall tone of the album. If compared to the often dark Synthesist, this album is much more optimistic. Because of the upbeat optimism and intense pop attitude of this album, it's all very commercially accessible and sounds somewhat similar to a lot of other '80s pop acts with the absence of vocals, and even now artists can gain popularity utilizing this exact sound such as Com Truise.

Some of the tracks stand out more than others, such as the title track which really does give off an oceanic type of drowning atmosphere that borders on thickly layered ambient drones. "Pondicherry Dream" is much more similar in sound to the powerful and racy Berlin school music of his previous album except with only a small amount more of '80s pop production echo and tabla percussion. "Minimal Boogie" has a compositional form very much like something Steve Reich would write - very repetitive with subtle alterations that keep the track both predictable and interesting - while creating enough variety within itself to please the ears throughout its 11 minute duration.

Anyone expecting an album that is very close to the sound of Harald Grosskopf's previous album will be very dissapointed, but Oceanheart is definitely not a bad album. Some people scoff at the sounds of the '80s (which I usually do), but Grosskopf's compositional skills have not dropped off at all and are displayed quite proudly on this album that also shows his willingness and comfort in working with the then modern sounds that defined that decade. In comparison to Grosskopf's contemporaries, I'd personally rate this much higher than the '80s era albums released by his more well-known contemporaries.

Report this review (#630490)
Posted Saturday, February 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
3 stars Beach soundtrack

Although this album is largely built up around the sounds that made the 80s, there is just something here. For whatever reason, the falseness and rather plastic sounding synths do actually by some miraculous feat come to life - and in a way that I hadn't imagined, when I first popped this album on.

I am a huge fan of Grosskopf's first outing Synthesist, and it may well be the perfect entrance into the world of prog electronic for the uninitiated - those who need umphh and drums in their music... Now while Oceanheart throws around 80s synthesizer loops, sequencers, long deep breaths of effervescent keys - holding hands with the 'new age' outlook, this album does have quite a lot in common with its predecessor. What made the debut such a riveting and seductive piece of electronic music, was its breezy melodies, and how dear Harald went about creating some of the most friendly atmospheres known to mankind - all through the usage of robotic instruments.

Of course, all of this highly skilled sorcery came from his extensive insight into the gurus of the electronic lands - those that practically started it all. Starting out as a drummer in Agitation Free, the synths of Michael Hoenig were never far away, and when he then later on encountered Klaus Schulze, he practically begged to be on one of his albums. -And so he was, actually both the second part of Body Love, a 70s artsy erotic flick that worked so incredibly well with the ghost sounds of Schulze's futuresque electronics, and the now legendary Moondawn. Harald studied to be a Jedi, and it wasn't long hereafter that he picked up a lightsaber of his own, and started waving it about - now commencing to explore the wonderful vastness of space and beyond, all through the powers of the magical and esoteric world of electronic music. Still, it's certainly no secret that Grosskopf's work is highly influenced by both, even if he successfully manages to smooth over the abstract and floating Schulze trademarks. Making them seem incredibly melodic and welcoming.

Oceanheart is like a warm sunny day with beautiful long legged women cycling by you down at the beach. It's melodic stuttering segments of sound, that apart from being backed up by some rather lethargic drum work, doesn't at all seem to stem from a once famous drummer. There is much more ambience and invisible room in this album - like a window to blue skies overhead. The music is open, if you will - and it just swirls around in these tiny docile sculptures, creating a breezy and gentle ride. Nothing here is abrasive. You almost feel like you're receiving a sonic massage.

Honestly though, if I reach for a Grosskopf release, I reach for Synthesist. The two have so much in common, that I mostly just go for the warmth and original vibe of the first. Oceanheart still sports that exact same breezy feel - recalling entire summer holidays spent on the beach watching females and seagulls flapping about.

Report this review (#786947)
Posted Thursday, July 12, 2012 | Review Permalink

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