Massive Bereavement from Effloresce by Oceansize

I was first introduced to Oceansize a few years ago after reading a general review of progressive rock by a devout Catholic (a priest I think, not you Brad!). He discussed a number of albums produced over the last few years that had escaped me and I decided to take a chance on Effloresce.  I purchased the CD with no internet listening beforehand. At first I just didn’t get it; what was this all about? There were too many things going on for my brain to register. It literally blew my mind. I just couldn’t get my head around it. But after about 4 or 5 listens it hit me like a sledgehammer, but in a good way, where pain is pleasure. I have listened to this album so many times it’s stupid really…can one album be so good that I spend so much of my precious time listening to it? The whole album is like a massive earworm to me, I have trouble getting it out of my head after listening to it… trouble sleeping, you bet!

Of all the brilliant tracks on the album, I’ve chosen Massive Bereavement to comment upon because it includes so many of the elements of progressive music that I like.

  1. It’s long and it takes me on an emotional journey.
  2. It has multi-layered guitars (three of them), played in the usual complex time signatures. The guitar sound is dissonant, atonal and challenging but it’s also soft and melodic at times. It’s full of great little riffs without any noticeable solos. If someone can identify all the time signatures for me then I would appreciate it!
  3. It has some fantastic ‘off’ beat, syncopated drumming. The drum is another key instrument, it’s not just there to hold the beat together (thanks Nigel). It adds extra texture and complexity. In fact of all the many albums I’ve heard, Effloresce is my favourite for drumming.
  4. The structure is typical of a ‘prog’ song i.e. it’s typically unstructured in the traditional sense and you’re not quite sure what you are going to get next. It builds up slowly and carefully, slipping in and out of strangely hypnotic vocals. An unsettling interlude follows – the song almost ‘simmers’ before the tempo speeds up; more lyrics follow building up the tension before exploding into a frenzied vocal and concludes with an attack of manic, duelling guitars.
  5.  The mood of the song is at first hallucinatory; it has a dream-like quality that is also disturbing; there is a sense of foreboding. As the vocals kick-in, there’s a palpable sense of anxiety and related despair as if someone is trying to get somewhere but can’t. As if in a dream I feel disconnected from reality without the ability to control my circumstance. A sense of trying to understand someone or something but being unable to, then realising that whatever I am searching for is different from my expectation. This is the emotional state the song triggers in my mind and I cannot escape from it.
  6. The vocal style, its emotion, is in perfect harmony with the mood of the song. At times dream-like but also contemplative, despairing and finally, almost hysterical.
  7. Lyrical meaning – what is the song all about? – perhaps asking Mike Vennart, who wrote it, would be a good idea.  I’ve heard on one blog that it’s about the death of Bill Hicks, the American comedian who died tragically young and who (allegedly) the band admired. His comedy involved direct attacks on mainstream society, religion, politics, and consumerism. However, I’m not going to hypothesize. Musical lyrics, like most verse, can be interpreted in different ways. What I know is that the words resonate with me and this significantly adds to the song’s enjoyment. I leave it to the reader to listen carefully to the song and make of them as you will. (They are at the end of this review).
  8. I never tire hearing this song. Every time I listen to it I capture a little bit more of its essence.

I read one review saying that Oceansize are like Mogwai meeting Tool and indeed, there are similarities with both. I personally ‘connect’ with the Mogwai sound, Tool not so much, but I believe there is an extra level of musical complexity to Oceansize. I would recommend either a very, very good hi-fi system OR a very good set of headphones to gain maximum appreciation of the complex sound of the band. The ‘inner-ear’ experience is superb.

Massive Bereavement is a stunning track from an album full of exceptional tracks. It’s an awesome debut album and currently in my top 10 of all time. Please, if you haven’t heard them, check out their other three albums, Everyone Into Position, Frames and Self Preserved While the Bodies Float Up. I hope you won’t be disappointed.

Oceansize fit into the edgy, dark and heavy side of Prog but that’s just where I like to be. Intense stuff. Welcome to the dark side J

PS – Totally unrelated anecdote

Massive Bereavement is a superb warm up track for the gym. I’ve developed a special 10 min cycle routine for it. A low rpm start, gradually building up the power to an explosive intensity and climax (Yes I am slightly deranged!).

The Lyrics

Billy’s worries take control
All at once needing seething teething
Take one more

He is growing

And we were searching for a truth that was there all along
All those knowing little seeds would be the words to this song
That righteous indignation dollar turning you on
Turn off the television turn off the television
All at once needing seething teething
Take one more

He is growing as god looks on
He is growing, god looks on, god looks on
What a way to go i’m still running for that bus that we missed years ago
A perfect antidote more connections made it’s inevitable
That he was reaching out to touch me he was reaching out to touch me he was
He was reaching out to touch me he was reaching out to touch me he was Reaching out

He’s not joking joking joking

Indelible an ever-changing colour you winner man
He’s invincible and screaming at the world that you’re wrong you’re so wrong
And i was reaching out to touch him i was reaching out to touch him i was
I was reaching out to touch him i was reaching out to touch him i was Reaching out

I’m not joking joking joking
Is this not what you expected
Is this not what you expected
Is this not what you expected
Is this not what you expected
Ah ah ah ah

4 thoughts on “Massive Bereavement from Effloresce by Oceansize

  1. Ian, I love this review. And, agreed. My favorite part of the song is the moment when he sings: “What a way to go i’m still running for that bus that we missed years ago.” Incredible image. This is my favorite Oceansize song as well, and I would rank “Amputee,” “Relapse,” and “Breed Siamese” close to it. Thanks for doing this. What a pleasure to read.

    Liked by 1 person


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