Posted by Todd Hamm
Expansive, yet often airy and lithe, Oceansize's complex sense of melody has drawn comparison to everyone from Radiohead to Tool. It's been their ability to evolve and create within new parameters, to bound through seldom used sectors of their "genre" while maintaining a strangely cohesive aesthetic, that has set them apart from most progressive acts of the day. With their most recent Home & Minor EP, the Manchester quintet has taken the opportunity to explore their gentler sensibilities for half an hour; something like the "Music For A Nurse" or "The Frame" arrangements, but more focused and refined. They haven't tried to pack the entire range of their catalogue into a single song (although that approach often makes for their best material) this time around, and it has worked surprisingly well.
"Legal Teens" begins blurry-eyed and curious, the reversed effects splashing between left and right channels the way water refracts light. As captured in the video, lead singer Mike Vennart drifts in falsetto with the guitar sway, Steve Hodson's bass slowly instills gravity, as Gambler's keys flutter between rhythm guitarist Steve Durose's soft, deliberate riffs and Mark Heron's warmly batted tom drums. As the track fades on the EP, "Getting Where Water Cannot" clicks on crisp in the middle of a subdued action sequence, where the tricky drum click soon picks up bits of guitar, bass, keys and trumpet as it tumbles through scenery that is as much David Gray as it is Radiohead. The melodic feedback of "Monodrones" serves preface to the title track's wobbling reverb and gregorian vocality, and while it may be the weakest--and longest--song of the collection, the lack of repetition and anticlimactic fray at the end of the song make it bearable background music. "Didnealand" has the spacious qualities of an old house, complete with creaky furniture, hardwood echoes, the family's grand piano. Not a word is spoken, nor does it need to be. "The Strand" closes out the disk in haunting fashion, with Vennart's dark lyrics whispered over the whine of industrial fans, or perhaps the quiet hum of machinery. The track nearly foreshadows a return to the deep brooding tension of "Voorhees", especially given the eery cat-wondering-in-a-warehouse sounds to wrap things up--and yet, it is the end.
Home & Minor is an exercise in patience, a six track build-up, that, while hinting at some kind of climactic resolution, is able to stand on it's own as a delightfully moody assortment of sounds. It plays perfectly into the bigger picture; it's simply the next chapter in the discography they seem to have already planned out, with vastly different spikes in plot and character development, but that follow the same extremely well thought out arc. It's hard to tell how those used to the edgy prog-metal, spastic time signatures and tangential song structures typical of previous Oceansize material will react, but by the sound of it, the band doesn't care much, or are at least confident. They are however, due for an explosion.
Here's the afore-mentioned video for the opening track "Legal Teens" from the Home & Minor EP: