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The Ocean And The Sun
The marriage of punk and progressive rock does not seem like a match made in heaven (or any dimension, temporal or otherwise); how could punk rock, whose very definition focused on stripping away of stylistic and performance excess, ever combine harmoniously with the progressive tendencies it strove so mightily to eviscerate? Fortunately, we live in strange times: the four core members of the The Sound Of Animals Fighting collective make this unlikely combination seem as natural as a backbeat and a collection of well-strummed guitar chords.
The dichotomy extends beyond a simple collision of diverse genres, however: The Ocean And The Sun is simultaneously eclectic without being pretentious and straightforward without being conventional, mixing rock idioms, carefully sculpted noise, and touches of the unusual (the album opens with a reading of a Farsi translation of Stephen Crane's poem "In The Desert;" the poem is re-read in English over a bed of shifting static on the 11th track, "Ahab") with aplomb. The title track combines a Bright Eyes low-fi aesthetic, vocals of a Beatles-era George Harrison, and the dreamy instrumental soundscapes of Brazzaville; "I, The Swan" hides a tale of an artwork destroyed at the moment of creation by its creator under the folds of its slow, grooving hook. "Another Leather Lung" quickly jumps from melodious counterpoint between guitar and bass to busting out a high-energy bridge that would jive with material from Protest the Hero, while "Cellophane" moves from dreamy pop to syncopated beat to screeching guitar solo with Opeth-like precision.
The variations continue through the record, interspersed with the type of interludes favored by Tool since Aenima: "The Heraldic Beak Of The Manufacturer's Medallion" is the type of track The Mars Volta might have written for Frances The Mute, replete with driving punk rock energy laced through a host of catchingly dissonant chords, except that The Sound of Animals Fighting knows when to end a song. "Uzbekistan" manages to float six minutes of noise, an R&B groove and a nice rock riff over a simple synthesizer pattern without inducing fatigue. "Blessings Be Yours Mister V" could very well be a Discipline-era King Crimson track, before the album closes out with the summation: over seven minutes of "On The Occasion Of Wet Snow," which combines every influence mentioned above with some late-70s Queen for a sweet, slow progression to a mighty finish.
By Eric B. Hanson
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|Performer:||The Sound of Animals Fighting|
|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H):||5.00 x 1.00 x 6.00 Inches|
|1.||The Ocean And The Sun|
|2.||I, The Swan|
|3.||Another Leather Lung|
|5.||The Heraldic Beak Of The Manufacturer's Medallion|
|7.||Blessings Be Yours Mister V|
|9.||On The Occasion Of Wet Snow|
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