Oceania (Best of 2012 — Part 1)

The Smashing Pumpkins

One of the albums in my Top Ten for 2012 is The Smashing Pumpkins’ Oceania.

Volcanic bass guitarist Nicole Fiorentino and Rush fanboy Billy Corgan deliver some especially mind-blowing musical moments. The title track invites us to go swimming in 9:07 minutes of heavy prog wonder, in which we encounter an acoustic guitar island and then ride out more waves with multiple distorted guitar solos.

But every track is a keeper. In the album order, my four fave tracks are “Quasar” (which rocks things off with an appropriately heavy mystic quest, as the chorus sings out the Tetragrammaton—YHWH—until meditative bliss is encountered), “The Celestials” (complete with a heavenly epiphany—see next paragraph below), “My Love is Winter” (an incredibly melodic mind-grabber that builds the tension expertly in a prolonged way and then attains delirious resolution after teasing us delightfully with the extended musical deferral), and “The Chimera” (for its epic monster riffing).

“My Love is Winter” was the divinely lovely song that stayed with me most when away from the headphones; but “The Celestials” is perhaps my upper-echelon selection for epic greatness. It opens with an awesome sing-along acoustic guitar enticement. Then it blasts into rock trio orbit at 1:16 as the bass (oh yeah! dig the bass!), the guitar, and the drums prepare for the jump to light speed. And wham, at 1:52 we launch into hyperspace and the whole world suddenly accelerates and then magically slows down as, now outside time, we cosmically survey it all via the synthesizer’s lens. Powered into crazy warp speed by the ripping guitar beginning at 2:22, then eventually, at the edge of the universe, at the three-minute mark, the horizon of spiritual enlightenment is crossed as the music invites us to contemplate the spiritual master’s most divine insight (sung in harmony with the guitar): “Everything I want is free.”

Wow.

“Everything I want is free.”

Give somebody this album as a gift for Christmas.

May the music help you swim in the ocean of love. Ride on!

Oceania

8 thoughts on “Oceania (Best of 2012 — Part 1)

  1. carleolson

    Thanks, Chris, for posting this! I bought the album months ago, but (gulp) haven’t listened it to it yet. (Yes, I’m really bad about such things. I have dozens of CDs that fit into the “bought but not played” category.) Anyhow, I appreciate your listing of favorite songs. That helps.

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      1. carleolson

        It is, I think, one of the most distinctive and memorable rock albums of the 21st century. High praise, I know, but warranted. Mark Greaney, the leader singer/guitarist/songwriter, has a most distinctive voice—an operatic, banshee-ish, Geddy Lee-ish marvel—and pens songs that are wonderfully obtuse and deceptively simple: “Snow”, “October Swimmer”, and “Oxygen” come to mind. The second album has some fine moments, but isn’t as immediately gripping; the band split in 2006. Greaney is apparently working on a solo album while he teaches music/voice at a school in England. I mention it because JJ72 was obviously influenced by early Smashing Pumpkins, and I think you’d like it.

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  2. Chris – thanks also – i’ve tried hard with TSP over the years – my 19 yr old son loves them but Siamese Twin and Mellon Collie (probably their most popular) just didn’t ‘do it’ for me, although there were some excellent moments. Anyway i gave up on them. If this is a return to form then i will check this album out
    Ian

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  3. Darren

    If you have the time, listen to Billy Corgan’s interview on CBC’s “The Q” — http://www.cbc.ca/q/uncut/. He talks a bit about the album, but mostly about his views on the music industry, his place in the industry, and on his music’s place in improving a declining world. One of the best interviews on any topic I’ve heard in a while.

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  4. Pingback: Clockwork Angels (Best of 2012 — Part 2) « Progarchy: A Celebration of Music

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