8 studio albums in, we get this from The Smashing Pumpkins. Technically, this was announced as "an album within an album," which was "Teargarden by Kaleidyscope." After claiming that albums are a dead medium, songs were released one by one for free online from late 2009, then releasing EPs. Oceania is an album though, right? Well, Billy Corgan stands by his view. He defends releasing this as a more comfortable way to approach writing. I get that, and who would deny him anyway?
And then he went on to say that they got burnt out on the song-by-song writing method.
So here we go! "Quasar" is definitely an intro track if I've ever heard one. Even if it's just that stingy build up into a loud rocking song, it's an intro all the same. I can't say what I was necessarily expecting, but this wasn't it, and I'm delighted by that. It's dark and twisted in this really awesome way. Things are produced in a very modern way, so if you're looking for that early-90's sound, you're SOL.
"Panopticon" has an interesting in and out sense to it. You almost feel pulled in than drawn out from the music, which, I think, comes off the rhythm of the whole thing. The beat's so steady in every single instrument at work here.
Okay, well, this is a new sort of twist. A regular guitar strum is what's dominant in "The Celestials." There are strings in the making, or at least synth strings, that give it depth. But the song's much more light and thus sort of sounds much more deep than the others. Around 1:15ish it picks up a little bit, but don't be fooled - they're still experimenting with the sound. Some things like this can be really hard to pull together, but when it's done right, like this, you wouldn't even notice the changing unless you're listening this oddly hard, trying to pick it up.
We come in heavy with "My Love Is Winter." It's not hard, but trull just heavy on the heart. It's getting harder to decipher lyrics here, but the title sure comes in clear. Otherwise, the feel matches that title, being just a little more cold and tough to break through to really feel. Something about how this is mixed makes me feel a bit detached from the music itself. Really, it's a strange feeling, gotta say. I've not cared for songs before, but can't recall just flat out not feeling.
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"One Diamond, One Heart" is possibly the sweetest little love/friendship song I've heard in a while. I've been working on my room and just kept hearing the line "I'm always on your side." I imagine, given the title, it's a love song, pledging true devotion and whatnot, but hey, it's sweet all the same.
"Oceania is not only the title track, but the ingest track, sitting at over nine minutes. It's got a creepy tone to it, and I guess is meant to me the largest statement piece on the album. There's even this off little western sound lying underneath of it all. It's an interesting experiment in composition for sure. The song even seems to be divided up into movements, which makes it difficult to like the whole thing - they aren't all as equally wonderful as the others.
And moving right along, which is what "Pale Horse" seems to be doing, we'll just keep the travel-along mode up. It's a very steady song, which is where' I'm getting all of this travel talk from. There's still that old western feel to the approach to the guitar, even if it's just subtle. What's actually catching me a little here is that work on harmonies. It's interesting if not just a little bit haunting.
See now, the music is just twisty enough in "Glissandra" to mirror Billy's twisty voice. This just makes more sense, even if it's not my cup of tea to hear on a regular basis. I'm also making a desperate effort to hone in on the lyrics and find something awesome there, but it's hard. Things are just so weird for my taste. I like the overall sound, don't get me wrong, it's just hard to fully commit to a song when you can't get it into your heart.
"Inkless" is kind of this all-in song, even complete with fancy guitar solo rip. The repetitious chorus kind of becomes boring, but I like the attempt at something harder. Again, no vocals to match that feel, but to appreciate the band's regular sound you have to forgive that. And wow, we've come close to the end of the album - how/when did that one happen? I feel like this went by incredibly quickly.
Anywhos, the final song is a little painfully slow, entitled "Wildflower." It's droning, there's just no way around being nice about that. It's got a finality feel to it, so I suppose it's well-placed and appropriate. It grows a little, and I'd even venture to say could grow on me a little. There's a build with more strings and feeling that could turn into something kind of great. This gets sort of hypnotizing. Amazing how a song can change throughout just a few minutes, and even grow to capture you a little more.
Added to My Playlist:
- "The Celestials"
- "One Diamond, One Heart"
I was never a huge fan of The Smashing Pumpkins, mostly because they were a bigger deal when I was too young to appreciate them. Nonetheless, I was excited to take a listen to this because of the name and the time it's been. I wasn't thrilled be every moment, but I wasn't disappointed either.