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

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Final Tragedy - Trial of Tears – Once upon a time there was a French thrash metal band called Etheric Soul which included among its original members multi-instrumentalist Jean-Luc Millot. Then one day, singer Delphine Cochand...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues