Ocasek - "Cinematic 1996-1997"
(Digitalis Recordings 2004, DIGI002)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: July 2004
No connection to Rick Ocasek, but a reference to "Boston rock-gods Pie", these recordings are taken from two albums, an EP, a single and compilations, but remixed/mastered here. What's most striking is that Brad Rose and John Mulhausen recorded this stuff on a 4-track when they were 17-year-old high-school drop-outs. Lots of impressive songs and creative ideas here, and surely not much of it learned in public school. I think I lucked out again. "Kyiv to Odessa" opens with a lovely cosmic My Bloody Valentine shoegaze melody, the vocals mixed low. "Photos from Odessa" reveal the vocals to be of typical whiney indie-rock stock; a friend of mine said "that's just how boys sing" - yeah, there definitely seem to be signs of puberty still lingering here, cracking and wavering at times. He reminds me some of Tare from Avey Tare/Panda Bear, but as with that group, the music is more than good enough to nullify any annoyance from the vocals, and I'm even forced to like them after awhile, as they are of course part of the music. Besides, there are some low warm round keyboard tones here that recall the Moog.
"Hungarian Dream Come True" is orgasmic. This is the melody that won't leave my head for the rest of the fiscal year, played by some of the prettiest, cleanest, most talkative keyboards to be heard in this genre of music. The coda takes the same notes and mixes them into a new epic melody which shoulda been played another one or two bars. "Cinematic" is the same melody/riff, but here played on the greatest cosmic guitar-wall this side of any shoegaze stuff, or Farflung, or the Boredom's space-rock stuff, and no vocals, and the drums and ride cymbals drive it to infinity. What a diff texture makes - same notes, but still a different tune than "Hungarian". "Rings of Saturn" is an acoustic strum, drum stomp and catchy vocal. I should say at some point that at times these recordings are not up to the hi-fi studio quality some enjoy hearing all the time... but that's how we like it, raw being cosmic. "Transcend on the Starlets" is another great melody, only two minutes long, a cosmic swirly guitar/synth melody played over strums and vox, very unusual tone. "North Atlantic" is another lovely space-keyboard melody, though less concise here, more ethereal, with strum, drum and hum (vocal). "Nicolette" puts the vocals more at the fore, before the band comes in... this is more of a ballad of sorts, not bad.
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Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg