Oceansize - Self Preserved While The Bodies Float Up

Tom Reed 13/09/2010

Rating: 5/5

Oceansize have been one of the most innovative and singular bands in the UK for some time now, rarely making concession to fashion or passing musical fads. Since their debut, 2003's Effloresce, they have created varied records that veer from riff heavy brutality to delicate post-rock textures to skyscraping melody, often in the course of a single tune. 2007's Frames saw the band push these textures to extremes, creating some epic compositions that were more classically concieved pieces of music than mere rock songs.

It seems with this new record however, that the band have decided that brevity can be a positive factor in their songwriting, and prog fans may be disappointed by some of the song lengths. Fear not though, for there is no lack of creativity to be found here, as tracks like 'Superimposer' and 'Build Us A Rocket Then...' career through ideas at lightning speed. Opener 'Part Cardiac' is a thrilling yet misleading introduction to the album, with its slow tempo and thunderous detuned riffing proving misleading to the mood of the rest of the record.

The middle section of the record sees Oceansize expand further on the mellower textures explored on their recent Home & Minor EP, with 'A Penny's Weight' and 'Ransoms' being a much more restrained and allowing for space and ambience in the band's sound. 'Silent/Transparent' crosses the 8 minute mark, with a huge crescendo following on from some lush melodies from singer Mike Vennart. Drummer Mark Heron also deserves special mention for his work throughout the album, bringing incredible technicality to the heavier tunes while even introducing some jazz-influenced ideas to the more sparse tracks such as eerie closer 'Superimposter'. 'It's My Tail and I'll Chase It If I Want To' shifts the mood again, its short sharp shock of mountainous chords providing another dynamic change, helped along by a shouty cameo from Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil.

But the centrepiece of the record is the epic 'Oscar Acceptance Speech'. The early sections recall Mew at their most melodious, Vennart adopting a falsetto that suits his voice well. The track shifts through the gears, to a powerful middle section with myriad harmonies and voices crossing over before a lush 3 minute string coda that floats the listener down to earth again gently. A truly stunning piece of work.

Many are claiming this will be the record that pushes Oceansize into the wider public consciousness, and there are few bands who deserve recognition more. But for my money, this is purely the sound of a band continuing to explore their sound, and this record sees them move into exciting new musical territories in an absorbing and affecting way.

Release date: Out now