Exposé Online banner

Ossicles — Music for Wastelands
(Karisma KAR099, 2015, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-01-09

Music for Wastelands Cover art

When a band produces a debut album as good as Ossicles did with Mantelpiece, there’s a very real possibility that a second album will slip in quality, the dreaded (and clichéd) Sophomore Slump. So how does Music for Wastelands fare? That’s not a simple question to answer. The bad news is that it doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor, but that can be tempered with the knowledge that its predecessor was so outstanding. The good news is that this is still a really fine album. There are some superficial similarities with the Porcupine Tree brand of contemporary progressive rock (breathy vocals, production style), but Ossicles have a much looser, jazzier feel, with electric piano and saxophone often figuring in the mix, and both the guitar and keyboards venturing into chordal territory not common in rock music. And while these are elements of Canterbury prog as well, this doesn’t really sound like a Canterbury album, though Ossicles would certainly work as a double-bill with Syd Arthur. The stylistic range such that they’re very hard to sum up. For example, there’s a fairly mellow stretch in the middle of the album, starting with “Pale Summer Nails,” which features a moody female singer backed by acoustic guitar, through “The Red Heart,” which is a mellow tune with beautifully harmonized male vocals, acoustic guitar, and lush keyboards. The next track is “Goodnight Ghosts,” which starts with an insistent bass riff with distorted electric piano, then crashes into a frightening near-industrial section of distorted vocals; interludes feature a jazzy sax part. But it all holds together and manages to sound like the same band. The Veland brothers are amazingly talented musicians, with wide-ranging influences and a distinctive sense of how to put parts together. I’m reminded at times of Lars Hollmer’s way of juxtaposing seemingly unrelated elements, and Mats/Morgan would be another touchpoint, especially considering the dexterity involved in some of these parts (though Ossicles is generally less hyperactive than Mats/Morgan). In short, if Music for Wastelands is a tiny notch below its predecessor, it’s still miles above most of what passes for music in 2015, and gets my highest recommendation.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Ossicles

Latest news

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Cul de Sac - Ecim – This four-piece from Massachusetts offers a free-wheeling neo-psychedelic sound that finds itself at home somewhere between current bands bands like Porcupine Tree, and the experimental music of...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues