It’s been a month and a day since The Night Wears A Sombrero, where B. and I had the good fortune to meet and watch a performance from Oculesics. I guess now would be a good time to get this review going.
Never Odd or Even is the Connecticut-based math rock outfit’s debut album, released in July 2011, and it has a ton to offer. The seven-track album is about thirty-four minutes long, and starts off with a one and a half minute-long track titled “There’s Only One ‘I’ In Selfish,” which is very telling of what the rest of the album has in store. In ninety-two seconds, it touches upon every section of the self-imposed “postexperimentalmathyjazzrock” label very nicely before it flows seamlessly into “Space Nails!.”
Seamless transition is a persistent theme throughout the album. Tracks like “So Strange A Noise. . .” and “Ed Booth’s A Scumbag. . .” break away from this theme, having very definitive ends, though as independent tracks, their dynamics necessitated these distinctions. They even served well, being placed in the middle of the album, to further establish the experimental theme of the album as a whole, allowing for a new form of variety. That said, I listened to this album a lot in circumstances in which I wouldn’t pay any mind to the track numbers, listings, or lengths, like while driving. As a result, I found myself frequently thinking “I wonder when this song is going to end.” Upon looking at my mp3 player, I would realize I was almost at the end of the next track more often than not. That is not to say the music at any point felt like it was dragging. On the contrary, I was so enveloped most of the time that I had no idea where I was temporally in the music. In writing Never Odd or Even, Oculesics was fully capable of seeing the forest for the trees, and what beautiful foliage they produced. It’s the type of forest whose landscape continually inspires you to keep walking, to pay no mind to how far you’ve walked or how late it’s getting, to take it in for all it has to offer. With the same sentiment, the album ends with a simple, unexpected (though not abrupt) release, leaving you content in knowing you’ve experienced the whole of it, though further content in knowing you can still go back and discover more. It’s a similar feeling to waking up after a long night of pleasant dreaming to the warm rays of a sunrise. It just happens, and it feels good.
So…? I wore my heart on my sleeve this entire review. They share characteristics of early Tera Melos (a cited influence of theirs) and late Flaming Tsunamis, which are my favorite stages of two of my favorite bands. They also fulfill one of my key factors in distinguishing good math rock bands from really good math rock bands, which is having at least one song that evokes memories of Metroid, which in this case is the transition from “Rotavator” to “Tulsa’s Mom’s a Slut.” Not to mention, the album title, as well as the last three track titles, are palindromes. AND the field of study from which they borrow their name could provide for conversation and contemplation for hours. Seriously, look into it. Everything about this band is cool. Four out of five kegs.
By the way, the album is available for free download from their Bandcamp profile, which I posted just above. I would strongly encourage getting your hands on it.