Oceansize
Music for Nurses


4.5
superb

Review

by Mendigo USER (21 Reviews)
May 18th, 2008 | 34 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The 25-minute masterpiece “Music for Nurses” seems like the very best parts of an Oceansize album compressed as much as possible.

Oceansize are known for putting out lengthy, ambitious albums with tons of material on them. So it is quite surprising that by far their best effort to date has been a 25 minutes long EP called “Music for Nurses” released in October 2004. Often termed a companion to the debut “Effloresce” or a little appetizer to pass the time to the follow-up “Everyone Into Position”, this secret masterpiece is an extremely overlooked album by the band from Manchester, UK.

This album is as inventive as music can be, blending in styles like (post-)metal, alternative, (post-)hardcore, progressive rock, noise, ambience and hints of post-rock, all of them complementing one another and adding up to a perfect mixture. There’s enough material on the 5 tracks of “Music for Nurses” to fill more than only one full-length album with. Hardly a riff is repeated over more than a few seconds, no drum pattern that is kept longer than necessary. The music is constantly on the change, a wink of a moment of absence is enough to lose track of what’s going on. Which leads us to the one problem this album has: it’s extremely hard to get into. That’s true of any Oceansize album, but “Music for Nurses”, beside it’s short running length, is for sure the most complicated and complex but also the most focused record they’ve made to date. Still, despite the constant changes the ever-evolving music never seems forced - once you’re used to it, it becomes clear that every break and every riff is perfectly in place.
Fans of the studio albums can be taken aback by “Music for Nurses” at first, just like I was. All the long, building and psychedelic instrumental passages that made the end of “Effloresce” so great are gone here. Actually the whole softer side of Oceansize is reduced to brief glimpses throughout the album, yet they are as beautiful as anything the band has done. The focus lies on the band’s heavy side; they’ve never been afraid to write heavy songs but they’ve never done it to such an extent either.

Instrumentally “Music for Nurses” is slightly superior to the band’s other albums: especially Mark Heron’s drumming belongs to the best I’ve ever heard. The vocals are also quite different from the other albums: there are the softer lead vocals by Mike Vennart, often providing a wonderful counterpart to the music and there are hardcore-like screams by Steve Durose. Both of the singers are playing guitar as well and considering that the band has even a third guitarist (Gambler), who also plays the keys next to bassist and keyboarder Jon Ellis, the sound is appropriately epic and broad. In order to achieve that sound a lot of credit has to be given to the perfect and amazingly detailed production, done by Chris Sheldon (who also produced their debut and 2007’s “Frames”) and Mark Williams, settling in just between the rougher sound of “Effloresce” and the polished one of “Everyone Into Position”. It can be smooth and soft, but it’s mostly rough and gritty, giving the album an extremely dark feeling. Still there are so unbelievably many little details and effects that the album can never become boring.
The lyrics are a point where I’m not really in the know, but that’s true of any Oceansize album. All of them have a feeling like they want to tell something, but I just can’t say what it is. I have some assumptions with all of the songs, but I won’t share them - I guess it’s up to every listener to interpret them on his own. But all of them are wonderfully written and they mirror both the desperation (“Just to make you see how I am striving to make a fist”) and the anger (“All you have belongs to me / Glamour pigs media whores / Let blood run like a water fall”) the album conveys.

A detailed description of the songs is impossible and wouldn’t help anyone, so here’s just a sketchy and fragmentary overview to get an idea of what awaits you: “Music for Nurses” shoots forward with the merciless opener One Out of None (sometimes spelled like one out of nONE or One Out of nOne) and knocks down the listener with full power. It is one of the most break-filled songs I’ve ever listened to, not any ten seconds of the music sound the same. Still it does never sound random, but builds towards an epic ending where the song is drowned in a wall of noise. Paper Champion chooses a different path, it builds from a slow start with a trip-hop flow, reminiscent of Massive Attack, to a long crescendo, going through all kinds of changes until it hits its breathtaking peak. The last three tracks flow seamlessly together and build another big crescendo. Starting with ambient effects and the organ of Drag the ‘Nal, the most relaxing moment on the album, we move over to Dead Dogs an’ All Sorts. It opens with clean guitars and careful drumming over the remaining sound layers of the previous track, a mixture that sounds like alternative rock, even more so when the almost whispered vocals join the music. But it doesn’t take long until everything begins to build until it reaches an extremely heavy, distorted climax, from where As the Smoke Clears takes over. The last song soon lets the heaviness fade and plays along with clean guitars and soft harmonies just to take up speed and power again, builds and builds, until it is cut off at its heaviest point and the album is ended by a closing minute of ambience.

“Music for Nurses” is a glorious effort, one of the most complex and focused albums ever recorded, an EP that feels so much longer than it actually is. It might seem too abstract and compressed at first, but with time it unfolds its brilliancy and turns into a masterpiece. While I recommend it to any open-minded listener, I have to commit that it might be not the best starting point for anyone new to Oceansize because it covers mainly the heavy side of the band’s repertoire and leaves out many of their other qualities. But what it does, it does with a breathtaking power and certainty.



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user ratings (138)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Mendigo
May 2nd 2008


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the EP is pretty rare btw, I don't think there's any chance of getting a physical copy. (not that long ago I saw an offer for about 50€!!!), but downloading it from amazon costs only 5$. it's really really worth it, I promise.

Refl
May 2nd 2008


43 Comments


This is just so good. They played the whole thing a few years back and it was incredible.This Message Edited On 05.02.08

Ras
May 2nd 2008


27 Comments


Good review.

So I wanted to buy it, but Amazon is U.S. customers only.

Fuck.

Anyone got a link? I can't find a torrent.

Mendigo
May 2nd 2008


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sorry, didn't know about that problem with amazon.
can't help you really, all I could do is search google, but you've done that I guess.

Kage
May 2nd 2008


1172 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

5 is a little over the top, but this is a good release indeed.

Mendigo
May 2nd 2008


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'd say 3 is a little bit of an understatement ;)

Amputee
May 2nd 2008


207 Comments


Oceansize is one of my favorite bands of all time but i think a 5 is a little exaggerating.

Effloresce is a 5, definitely.

Mendigo
May 2nd 2008


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hm, I've thought about the rating for a long time, it isn't like I just came up with a five to get this more attention or anything, I really think this is a classic - Effloresce is also great, but too inconsistent to be a 5-star album.
well, there's always taste and everything but I recommend to give this album a few more tries, it needs time to grow and unfold, just like I've written in the review.

Amputee
May 2nd 2008


207 Comments


*points to my name*

botb
May 2nd 2008


9757 Comments


If this is anything as good as Frames, it's amazing.

Digging: Solstafir - tta

Mendigo
June 18th 2008


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ok, four months after my rating was criticized, I finally give in and lower the rating to a 4.5
don't know exactly why, I still love it as much as back when I wrote it but reading through the review, it just seems as the tiny extra point to make it a 5 star album is missing. But it's as close as it can be.

MyRamona
June 18th 2008


1090 Comments


^^ I would say they were still working out their sound at this point, I think their post-frames release will be a fantastic 5-star.

bodiesinflight57
September 24th 2009


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

One issue with this review: Mike does the screaming, not Steve. Mike has a second mic which he uses for screams and this is often adjusted to give his voice a weird sound. Otherwise great review...although it should've been a 5 obviously cause it's Oceansize!

UnnamedOcean
January 16th 2010


3980 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I think this is quite possibly the best EP I have ever heard. It follows a very classical form, like a piece in several movements, which has a loud beginning and end, and a soft middle section. Paper Champion is a good transition from One Out of None, and Dead Dogs and All Sorts is one of the most epic build-ups I have ever heard

Yazz_Flute
August 20th 2010


18851 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Why is everything Oceansize do so good.

Well except home & minor.

Digging: Kenn Nardi - Dancing With the Past

crazyblinddude
August 20th 2010


3389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Even Home and Minor was pretty solid. Band just has loads of talent.

Yazz_Flute
August 20th 2010


18851 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It was alright just not at the same level as everything else i've heard by them.

crazyblinddude
August 20th 2010


3389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I hear you. I think the new album will probably have a better sound than Home and Minor. Because the thought of a not completely awesome full length by these guys is kind of scary.

Yazz_Flute
August 20th 2010


18851 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm hoping the new one sounds like a continuation of this EP, even though this was released like 6 years ago. The generally shorter song lengths and the comments that it contains some of their heaviest material have me excited.

crazyblinddude
August 20th 2010


3389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You're right, a continuation of this style would be just great. But I didn't know it was going to have heavier moments. You're kind of getting me excited now. Release date is coming up soon, so we'll just have to wait and see.



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