Deluge Grander — Oceanarium
(Emkog Records 007, 2017, CD)
by Henry Schneider, 2018-01-12:
Deluge Grander is no stranger to Exposé and our readers, but their fourth album, Oceanarium, is my first exposure to the band. Oceanarium is the second in a planned three-level seven-album series, the first, Heliotians, was released in 2014 and the third album, Lunarians, scheduled for 2018. Unlike Deluge Grander’s earlier albums, Oceanarium is a set of eight progressive symphonic rock instrumentals. Deluge Grander is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Dan Britton, joined by a cast of supporting guest musicians on various tracks: Dave Berggren (electric guitar), Neil Brown (trumpet), Steve Chruchill (oboe), Brett d’Anon (bass, guitars), Brian Falkowshi (saxophone, flute, clarinet), Denis Malloy (bass clarinet), Corey Sansolo (trombone), Natalie Spehar (cello), and Zach Stachowski (violin). Oceanarium is a concept album that follows a loose thread about a rat-man who falls off a building into an area of competing tribes, which he leaves, only to get lost. The album opens with “A Numbered Rat, a High Ledge, and a Maze of Horizons.” The track is a rotating composition with the lead line moving from organ to harmonica to electric guitar to piano to clarinet and back to the beginning for complex symphonic / classical progressive music with some tasty Mellotron near the end. The next track, “Drifting Inner Skyline Space,” starts out calm with some analog synths, slowly adding some jazz fusion elements and violin with similarities to Mike Oldfield’s compositional style. “The Blunt Sun and the Hardened Moon” is next and shows more of a King Crimson influence with its complexity, as well as a reference to Steve Hackett. The dark, eerie “Finding a Valley in a Gray Area on a Map” follows and incorporates some Asian motifs. The mood shifts with “Finding a Shipwreck in a Valley in an Ocean” and its swirling piano runs alternating with progressive jazz fusion, and tying it back to the previous track, some Asian motifs. Track six, “Tropical Detective Squadron,” is an eerie track with sliding notes, shifting moods, Mellotron, and lots of little interesting things peppered throughout. “Marooned and Torn Asunder” is a bridge between “Saruned” from Heliotians and “Torn Amoonder” from Lunarians. This track sounds like a blending of post-Gabriel Genesis and Mike Oldfield. The album closes with “Water to Glass / The Ultimate Solution” that blends floating piano runs, Mellotron, and symphonic progressive music to create an uplifting and majestic climax for the album. Though there are many touchpoints with 70s progressive artists, the music on Oceanarium is not derivative and is quite unlike anything you have heard. So if you have not heard Deluge Grander yet, do not waste any more time, you will not be disappointed.
by Jon Davis, 2018-01-12:
I know there are a lot of people who listen almost exclusively to vocal music. Songs with lyrics make up the vast majority of most people’s listening. So why is it that the majority of my favorite music is instrumental? One reason is probably that as a critical listener, vocals are just one more thing that can get screwed up. If a mediocre keyboard player sits at a Hammond organ and plays a simple melody or chords that fit the rest of the music, it’s going to sound just fine, but if a mediocre singer opens their mouth, everything can be ruined. Things are maybe a little trickier with other instruments, where tone is the result of technique rather than just setting controls, but I think the point holds. And then there’s the lyrics. A decent piece of music can be ruined by bad lyrics, and there are a lot of bad (or just dumb) lyrics out there. Which brings us to Oceanarium, not because it’s got bad singing or stupid lyrics, but because it’s a maximum-length CD chock full of good instrumental music. (Just as a disclaimer, I’ll note that other Deluge Grander albums have featured singing without damaging their quality.) Multi-instrumentalist and composer Dan Britton and bassist / guitarist Brett d’Anon are the only musicians to appear on all tracks, with numerous guests fleshing out the music with a wide variety of brass, woodwinds, and strings. Some of the tracks rock, particularly “A Numbered Rat, a High Ledge, and a Maze of Horizons,” which starts off the album in an energetic fashion with a great guitar riff. Over its 11 minute duration, it covers a lot of ground, with nice touches from oboe, bass clarinet, and trombone in addition to organ, Mellotron, and other keyboards. I’m not going to try to explain why Oceanarium succeeds where so many symphonic wanna-bes fail — there are too many factors involved, and it just comes down to the fact that good decisions were made, and executed really well. This one’s a winner, and fairly bursts with originality and nice touches.
Related artist(s): Deluge Grander
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more