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.”
“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!