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THE OCEAN - "Aeolian" in his own words – by Robin Staps (guitar)

Ein Artikel von Odin vom 18.11.2005 (9930 mal gelesen)
The City in the Sea
The City in the Sea is a poem by Edgar Allen Poe. We moved around a few lines to make them fit the rhythmical patterns of the song, but it's pretty close to the original. It was amazing to see how that worked: to take a more or less random poem and custom-fit it to the music... and especially with such an intricate song! Apparently it's not a random poem though: we all love Poe, and this specific poem really fits us, thematically. This song is our tribute to metal, in a way, it comprises a lot of different styles and aspects, all wrapped up in the OCEAN-vesture, of course: there is the classical re-de-de-de-de-de-opening, followed by a chaotic fuck-your-brains-out-part, then the mid-tempo hardcore part with these bestial vocals followed by the essential sludge/doom-part, and then the infamous final chapter... the final chapter of this song is among the most intricate and crushing music we've ever written - and strangely enough, it is one of the few arrangements our drummer Torge and me have developed jamming, more or less. We met every day for about 10 days in a row, working on the arrangements. When we played it to the other guys in the band, they were like "fuck off, you crazy bastards!!"... it reminds me a bit of old Confessor - except for the vocals, obviously...

Dead Serious & Highly Professional
No comment on this one... the title says it all!

The essence of that song is an existential dispute with the struggle for passion in a world heading for its abolition, and the manifestations of this struggle in every-day life (that term in itself appears to be incommensurate with passionate living). The lyrics of this song deal with some of the nasty, hostile excrescences of a society based on commodities, wage-work, material success, individuality... and, increasingly, control. One of these implications is the necessity of leading outlined lives for the sake of carreer and affluence... we go to kindergarten, to school, to university, to work, and by the time we get out of the sweep through the institutions we're old and tired. We're being passed on from one institution to the next and we never actually pause and live life in the present tense, in a rewarding way. A lot of times we don't even seem to know what is rewarding to us, our desires have been crippled so much by the permanent exposure to the billboards and commercials of companies that take great pains to tell us what our desires are (how fucking absurd!) that we don't even know what is ours and what is external, what is real and what is not. And thus it's easy to convince us that we want anything and everything, and of course, it all comes at a price, and here, the cycle closes. The strategy of promise and refusal of fulfillment brings about that we don't even know what we want anymore. Hence we are content with almost everything -- working shitty jobs doing things we don't enjoy in order to earn money to buy things we don't need.

Killing the Flies
This is one of the newest songs on the album. It starts off with a tricky rhythmic pattern, pauses all of a sudden for a short break and then comes crashing in like a derailed freight-train... this track features the largest number of vocal contributors, 5 different singers are screaming their guts out here, including Tomas from Breach and Nate from Old Man Gloom. It's a song about a very dark phase of my life that I was going through many years ago. It's about emotional dependency and its implications. The end of the song is really majestic. The final chapter is inaugurated instrumentally, and then Tomas Hallbom comes in and sings: "this is the imperative of devotion: a command to consistent action... to defend our most heartfelt convictions against attempts of self-protection to cut them down to size of reason..." and this is what happens when we are unconditionally in love: we cling to our love in complete disregard of our own well-being, although we are perfectly aware that it might breed only suffering. There is an imperative to consistency somehow inherent in our feelings that we cannot elude.

Une Saison En Enfer
"Une Saison en Enfer" is the title of a book by Fench poet Arthur Rimbaud, it's a collection of poems and prose, and I think that title, as well as that book in general, perfectly represent what that song is about. There's a verse plagiarized directly from that book, it goes: "You that were banned from heaven and hell, murderers that have suffered great pains, searching in oceans of absinthe, the land where it is better to live". I'm really into Rimbaud and the whole story of him and Verlaine, I'm actually even more interested in his life than in his artistic, poetic achievements. Rimbaud to me reflects an individual with a heart so passionate that in the end it turned out to be his tragic flaw. He lost his life at the age of 37 after completely turning his back on and even ridiculing his own artistic work and becoming a vagabond of sorts in Ethiopia. Before that, he was working for the durch army, deserted, fled, got banished, lived in Cyprus, Norway and Africa... though his days on earth were few, he lived life to the fullest and experienced more than most other people ever will, in 60 or 70 years of life on earth. That was very inspirational for me and it also represents the spirit of THE OCEAN.
I was really fascinated by that website when I found out about it... it's not just about romanticizing dead bodies, it's all about fantasies of killing women for sexual gratification. there are mostly comic illustrations on that website about women being haltered, electrocuted, decapitated, with men standing around them raping them or masturbating. It's really nasty. the lyrics to that song make direct references to that website. It's a song about power, in its purest form. about how permanent exposure to sexual stimuli, to beautiful bodies on billboards and on tv, cripples our desires and inevitably leads to sexual frustration, and how sexual frustration leads to the quest for power, as compensation for frustration, and to the will of using force. and it's only a small step from here to the next step, which is gaining pleasure from using force, from violence. and i think that scheme is true not only for sexual frustration and sexual violence, but for any type of frustration and any type of violence, so the song is basically just a metaphor for a larger mechanism of human behavior.
the lyrics to that song are written from the "I - perspective", that is a treat I'm using quite a lot for the lyrics to our songs: to put myself in the position of someone else, to see the world through his eyes for the duration of the song, to try to think in his terms, and express what he feels immediately. I think that is a very powerful way of communicating lyrics, it's very direct, because the listener doesn't need to abstract, doesn't need to interpret.

One with the Ocean
This is one of the fast old-school tunes on the record... it's so much fun playing that live, but if it came down to picking one track that is to be representative of THE OCEAN, I probably wouldn't pick this one.. when I wrote that song I was inspired by Darkane's "Rusted Angel" record, it's one of my favourite technical death/thrash albums ever... at some concert we played in Western Germany, a friend of mine gave me a copy of a band, and when I put on the disc later at home I was immediately reminded of old Darkane as soon as the vocals set in. So I called up that dude and asked him if he was down for doing some guest vox on our new record, and he said "yeah, sure"... The same singer is also singing on "Une Saison en Enfer", although his voice sounds really different here, more in the old-school hardcore vein. He's got a good range of vocal styles.

If the lyrics determined the chronological order of the songs on the album, this track would have to come right after "Killing the Flies". It's about the end of a dark phase in my life, about coming back to the surface, to daylight. When you have seen life through black glasses for a long time, and all of a sudden these glasses are being smashed off your nose (or you manage to discard them out of your own strength), you'll be blinded by the glistening light of the outside world - and that hurts again, but only for a short time, until you get accustomed to it. It's a song about break-up and departure, about appreciating life again, about seeing the good side of things and realizing that life on earth is precious and too fucking short to waste it away being depressed and striving for things that are impossible to achieve. In that way, it's also a call for realism. I used to be a big-time dreamer that was constantly collapsing at the foot of his own demands and agendas. Since I have become a pragmatist, I have learned to appreciate life much more than ever before. Romanticism is beautiful, but it is just as well the greatest scourge of mankind.

Queen of the Food-Chain
The version of this song that is on the album is entirely sung by Sean Ingram from Coalesce. I wanted to get him to sing on that one from the beginning, because the verse riff is really Coalesce-style to me. And when I sent Sean the tracks, he picked this track from the start, and I was like "yeah, I knew it.." There's another version of this song with entirely different vocals, sung by our singers Meta and Nico and Tomas Hallbom from Breach, which was just released through Danish Futhermocker label as a limited 7" record, check it out if you can. Sean recorded his vocal tracks in the US and sent them over to us last minute -- actually we didn't get his tracks in time before the mastering. When I listened to his tracks I was almost shocked at first, because he completely changed the vocal arrangements of the song, especially the chorus. The other guest-singers have basically sung my lines the way they were originally meant to be. So we all sat down and listened to it and we were like, "wow, this is really... weird!". The song "Queen of the Food-Chain" is a really old song actually, we've been playing it live for more than 3 years, so we were really used to our version. And now we heard something completely different, that was quite confusing. But in the end we realized that it was just different, not necessarily better or worse, just different, and it really started growing on us. So we decided to go for it and Magnus Lindberg mastered the song again, with Sean's vocals on it, last minute before the deadline...

Another old tune. There's an old live recording of this track that we have done in 2002 with different instrumentation: instead of the cello, there were trombones and flutes. The instrumentalists kind of sucked though, the intonation was pretty bad, so we never released it. It's a song that could have also been on "Fluxion", for it is one of the few songs that features a long instrumental passage dominated by cello. It's one of my favourite songs ever. There's this almost Wagner-esque part in the middle of the song with all these celloes playing and building up tension and a breathtaking, ever-changing drum-pattern to top it off... it just builds and builds and then it totally explodes when the vocals come back in, before terminating in this agonizing tempo-curve breakdown at the end of the song... I also really dig the contrast at the beginning of the song between Tomas Hallbom's desperate, high vocals and Meta's low-end roars... you can also hear a surf-guitar in the first part of the song if you listen carefully...
The song is called "inertia", and the lyrics of that song describe these rare moments of emotional weightlessness, of being totally in unison with yourself, of being utterly content and embracing what life holds in store for you. The lyrics to that song were written when I was travelling in Morocco with the biggest love of my life, and we spent some magic days in the beautiful Sahara desert surrounding Merzouga, sleeping on rooftops at night and absorbing the out-of-this-world loneliness of the desert at day-time, engaging in nothing but each other and ourselves and our love.


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