Throw on this record and it’s going to be the furthest thing from pop music you’ve heard in a long time. The name of the band, The Sound of Animals Fighting, already evokes thoughts of quick, rapid and harsh images whereas the title of the album, The Ocean And The Sun, conjures up mental pallets of peace and tranquility. And that is what you will find lttered throughout this record: a cross between calm and chaos.
The Ocean And The Sun is the third album by California based The Sound of Animals Fighting. The group consists of four members, who until recently, were only known by their zoological pseudonyms; The Nightingale, The Walrus, The Lynx and The Skunk. With such names I’m picturing characters out of an old fantasy novel: four mysterious, wise beings, rising from the past to lead and bestow upon the people something different, something changing, and that is what you feel like after listening to this record. The group consists of Rich Balling, Anthony Green, Matt Embree, and Chris Tsagakis, all members from a variety of different acts, such as Rx Bandits, Circa Survive, Days Away/Good Old War, Finch and The Autumns.
This is very much a progressive rock album with wild splashes from a variety of different genres: jazz; eastern music; punk; electronic; and hardcore metal. They certainly pull from a diversity of flavors with the least bit of care of sticking to expected and structured song formats. For the most part however, each song sounds unoriginally the same; hyper, metal like guitars and frantic drumming spliced with a strong jazz guitar riff that ploughs through all the other sounds. It’s something Joe Satriani on speed would pulse out.
At the end of many songs, a chaotic mashing of instruments that really just sounds like, well, noise. But then somewhere below that surface of sound, faint and inaudible vocals yearn to break free and make their greatness known. And on the tracks when they do, they add a much desired change of pace and texture. The vocals for me are the true gem of the album, that unfortunately only shimmer instead of burn brightly.
On “Another Leather Lung” one is reminded of The Smashing Pumpkins; at first listen one might think Billy Corgan is at the helm of dictation. Corgan is the closest comparison to these vocals, though in a softer nature on the other tracks.
My favorite song on the album is title track “The Ocean and the Sun,” which follows a completely different style than the other tracks and is really just an overall beautiful composition. It’s a slow electronic number with heavy eastern influences, particularly that of modern electronic Indian music, with wispy, nostalgic, fantasy-esque vocals. It reminds me of the Nitin Sawhney track “Letting Go.” The song takes you back to another time/another era, the electronic aspect creating a dreamlike experience.
“Cellophane” is another standout track that breaks the harshness of the album and falls on the tranquil side. The sound stems from its name it seems and has an airy, light atmosphere, with a well played jazz guitar riff that floats throughout the song. The barely audible vocals seem to be only sounds rather than words that do well to bolster the airy atmosphere. The end, however, is lost to the album’s characteristic format of spastic guitar/drum thrashing that sounds like animals fighting.
The Ocean And The Sun might not be an album you can quickly enjoy on first listen, as the initial noise and musical mashing can be a little harsh. However, it is an original and diverse record that can be appreciated for its uniqueness and effort of combining a variety of instruments and genres to produce sounds that are vastly different from other records out there today.
The Ocean And The Sun will be released on September 9th by Epitaph Records.
02. The Ocean and the Sun
03. I, The Swan
04. Another Leather Lung
07. The Heraldic Beak of the Manufacturer
08. Chinese New Year
10. Blessings Be Yours Mister V
12. On the Occasion of Wet Snow
Written by: Ali Hussain
Filed under: album reviews | Tagged: ali hussain, anthony green, Billy Corgan, chris tsagakis, circa survive, days away, epitaph records, finch, good old war, joe satriani, lynx, matt embree, nightingale, nitin sawhney, rich balling, rx bandits, skunk, the autumns, the smashing pumpkins, the sound of animals fighting, walrus |