By Will Oakeshott
The Post-Metal genre includes a degree of adventure with each song that comes under the moniker. For the listener and artist alike, there is an ability to become so transfixed and involved with the journey of a track that it is able to transport the witness and performer into an other worldly experience. With this in mind, Germany’s long-time advocates of the sound The Ocean embraced this transference notion a step further, with both the release of their latest album ‘Pelagial’ and the live performance that comes with the record. As the mastermind and guitarist Robin Staps explains whilst on tour in New Zealand:
“We do have a visual aspect that is involved with the tour behind ‘Pelagial’, it is a video projection which is a part of the performance. However, because each venue we have on this tour especially differs quite a lot, we do have to see if our gear is compatible with the venue to ensure that the film aspect can be seen. So we have to see each day if it is going to be possible, which is risky but hopefully we can make it work everywhere. I know some of the venues are quite small, so whether the stage has the size and capacity to host the video projection with us also is a gamble we have to take.”
In fairness the entire project of the band’s sixth studio album was so ambitious, a “gamble” could be a bit of an understatement. Not being content with just writing and tracking another Post-Metal masterpiece, Robin with vocalist Loïc Rossetti, guitarist Damian Murdoch, drummer Paul Seidel and bassist Chris Breuer crafted eleven songs that were recorded in a different technique and written with the idea of the full-length being one entire song. As Staps elaborates:
“It was a different recording process, the whole album is meant to be viewed and heard as one continuous song and film, but obviously recording music in that way is nearly impossible and very challenging. So instead of dividing the album into songs to record, it is divided into sections and that is how we actually recorded ‘Pelagial’. Plus it doesn’t make sense to go into a studio for a band like us and do a take that goes for an hour long,” he laughs.
Staps continues – “The sections do not actually reflect what became songs on the final album, they are separated differently again. That was certainly a process but a necessary one, it still flows exactly how we wanted to it just had to be as tracks on a full-length album. If we did what ‘Pelagial’ is meant to be, one continuous journey of music, iTunes would certainly be ripping us off because one song is not worth the same as eleven. Financially it would be pretty stupid for us and that’s shit really because it somewhat jeopardises our vision, but it hasn’t defeated the purpose by any means.”
But what of this film that is included? What brought this grandiose yet invigorating idea to life?
“The visual inclusion was not just a touring idea after we had released ‘Pelagial’, it was a part of the album itself. When we were writing the record, we were always going to include a film idea with the music from the beginning. It was conceptualised to have a movie with the album, it comes as a bonus DVD with a limited edition version of ‘Pelagial’. We collaborated with Craig Murray who made the movie and he was there from day one. It was a duet of sorts with The Ocean and a filmmaker the whole project of this album. The film revolves around the idea of the record which is based around the oceanic depth zones and the darkness included with that journey, but I don’t want to give too much away, you will have to see it for yourself.”
With a degree of reliance on technology with such a large-sale concert in an intimate setting, have there been technical issues at all?
“That shit happens all the time (laughs)! It’s extremely frustrating when it does and it can somewhat ruin the show. You have to learn to live with those technical issues and in the end it is the music, which is what people have actually come to the show to witness. I’m sure that when the screen goes completely black that they notice something is wrong, but from my experience they are never to affected by it because the film is just an addition, they are there for the band The Ocean, which is awesome in the end.”
For this writer it felt like I had been left wanting more and my fascination had well and truly defeated me, but fortunately due to Robin’s pure passion for his project (plus his incredibly lovely nature), he was able to expand on what Australians can expect and what is next for The Ocean:
“This album is a one-directional project, it is meant to be heard from start to finish, not by individual songs. It means that the show we are going to perform for the audience is going to be very predictable, if you have heard the album that is exactly what you are getting. I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out, but for the next album we will be doing something different. It works awesome live and how it is structured, but we have played 300 shows at least on this record, we would like to mix up the set-list a bit more in the future,” he laughs.
‘Pelagial’ is out now via MetalBlade Records.
Adelaide, Jive – Thursday April 16
Melbourne, The Evelyn Hotel – Saturday April 18
Perth, Amplifier – Sunday April 19*
*Caligula’s Horse not appearing
Tickets on sale now via wildthingpresents.com, Oztix, and the venues