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Ocean Roar is the counterpart to Mount Eerie‘s wonderful Clear Moon, but one expecting it to be a repeat or a continuation of that album had best think again. Scuttlebutt had it that this was a more “black metal” record, and it’s easy to see the point; the guitars are heavy, the atmosphere feels dangerous, and the music isn’t as song-based as its sister record, but that’s okay. On first listen, it’s a cacophonous racket, a shambling mess, and somewhat off-putting, in comparison to its predecessor. Don’t fret, though; P.W. Elverum knows what he’s doing, and it’s in the repeated listening that you find the magic of Ocean Roar. This record is made for a vinyl listening experience, an should be approached as having two distinct halves. The first side is notable for the epic “Pale Lights,” a song that starts off soft and slow, and works its way into a dark, foggy night, equal parts disturbing and sublime. Your patience may be tried by the two noise pieces/field recordings, but he brings it back around into a darker place with the song “Instrumental.” Side two opens with noise, the pounding one-two punch of “Waves” and “Engel Der Luft,” two songs that demand to be played loud, are hard on the ears, and just when you feel like you cannot relent any more to the overwhelming sound, it breaks, goes silent, and he returns with the soft, gentle, beautiful, “I Walked Home Beholding,” which calms you for the final track, a second instrumental number that is both as heavy as the songs at the beginning of the side, and as beautiful as anything on the first side. Ocean Roar is not an easy pill to swallow, but swallow it anyway, for the beauty that’s found within the noise and the racket—it will consume you.
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