Lost Shoegaze Gems III : Ozean EP

Ozean is the shimmering, crystalline lost little child of Slowdive’s “just for a day” era, who offer us with this posthumous reissue a trio of beautiful songs (all proceeds from downloads will go to funding a vinyl release this year!) Like some of the other genre-skirting, dreamy bands of the decade (the EP is originally from ’93, the year I was born!) like Swallow, Ride (founding members Eric and Mike met after both going to a Ride show, how indie!) and especially Slowdive, the emphasis on creating guitar textures in the veins of the Cocteau Twins which transcend strings and power chords and become blurred colorful noise is heavily important to the three songs here. Each is generally built around layers of soaring guitars so spaced out they barely resemble instruments but seem more like beams of light intersecting at high speeds. However within the haze there are lovely chord changes and melodies, mostly led by the voice of Lisa Baer, whose voice cascades lovingly and softly through the sparkling ambience. Their drum and bass rhythm section is clear, clean and groovy enough to organically move your hips along to, with a shift more on the lighter post-punk side of things, like New Order or Chapterhouse (mostly percussion-wise)

It is especially in the intro section to the first track, “Scenic” that I see these parallels; the starry guitar sounds enter at about ten seconds in, unfolding into a slow-moving panorama with the drums and bass leading with a lazy but precise momentum and driving it on. Lisa’s washed-out voice glides with grace through it all, captivating but distant enough to not be overwhelming or poppy. “Fall” keeps the new-wave glitter and bass lines but has a freshness that sounds like both something you’d hear at an intimate local show and some lost dream-pop tape your crush plays in their car for you. Again, the combination of Lisa’s beautiful, ethereal crooning and the distorted waviness of the strings creates an amazing atmosphere, something this short “album” has a surplus of, the last song sounding like a lost Slowdive/Cocteau Twins/Lush b-side or demo. The strength of this tape is the consistency of the songs; this is also however the biggest weakness, as they do tend to blend together eventually. Each is lovely and a wonderful throwback to the bands of the early ‘90s who found inspiration in the dreamily jangly, ambient guitar rock scene that was becoming popular at the time. Ozean truly feel like what they are, not an imitation or a nostalgia trend, but a group of kids who saw the shoegazers at their peak and really were inspired to do something about it, something befitting the legacy those bands would leave behind one day many years after the press had turned on them and before returning as heroes.

The fresh DIY cassette label ‘Lavender Sweep Records‘,  re-released the EP of their 1993 tape and will release vinyl this summer:  https://lavendersweep.bandcamp.com/releases

Digital download available from the band itself, see below.

“While exiting a RIDE and Lush show in 1991, Eric Shea was handed a flyer that read, “Band seeking guitarist and singer. Influences include Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, Xmal Deutschland, The Byrds, Lush, Pale Saints.” Not even a week after calling the number listed below, Shea brought his Rickenbacker over to Mike Prosenko’s home. After admiring his vintage Fender Jaguar and talking about music, Shea and Prosenko plugged in and began creating the music that would become Ozean. Both musicians agreed that the songs they were writing called for a female singer with an otherworldly voice. Enter Lisa Baer. Influenced by the breathy cooing of Astrud Gilberto and the songs of The Jesus And Mary Chain, she was the perfect fit. The trio tried out various bass players and drummers to fill out their rhythm section after booking time with Michael Padilla to record their demo on his Fostex Model 80 1/4″ 8-Track reel-to-reel tape recorder. They enlisted Mark Baldwin to infuse their demos with his Peter Hook inspired rhythmic talents before mixing to DAT and releasing a few private pressed cassettes to friends. As with many young bands of the early 1990s, Ozean disbanded too soon. But an accidental rediscovery of these 1992 recordings begged for a reissue. Unfortunately, the original DAT master was nowhere to be found. But thanks to Tim Green of Louder Studios, a remaster from one of the original cassettes is now available for download.”

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