Review Summary: Few albums are truly as heavy as this. Be prepared to drift in the ocean, enveloped by the music herein contained.
Atmosphere. A greek word that is used when referring to the gaseous layer that keeps the Earth habitable. Generally speaking, the word atmosphere also to the ambience a piece of art may have. It is seldom easy to truly pinpoint what creates atmosphere in a song, as in some ways it similar to quintessence - what Aristotle knew as the fifth element. Anyhow, if you were to ask me at any random point what my favorite albums were, Devin Townsend’s “Ocean Machine: Biomech” would definitely have a spot in the foremost three. If you asked me why, I would say one word: atmosphere.
The title of the album is somewhat misleading. Why? The presence of the word “machine.” Found here is one of the most organic works of art I have ever had pleasure of hearing. Across the board, the feeling of floating aimlessly in the ocean is everpresent. This is because the album is absolutely brimming with atmosphere. This cornucopia of sound includes the following: huge washes of echo and reverberation; waxing and waning dynamics - which can oscillate from absolutely crushing heaviness to ambient serenity at the drop of a hat -; and some of the richest songwriting ever.
Every track is outstanding on the album however, particular standouts include “Night, Funeral, Bastard,” and “Things Beyond Things.” Night is a straightforward hard rock affair, where Townsend’s trademark bark is heard throughout. This is one of more uptempo tracks on the album along with opener “Seventh Wave.” Funeral and Bastard are found nearing the end of the album. Tranquil yet crushing are two words that definitively describe the two tracks; with Funeral taking a jovial tone and Bastard veering in a more oppressive direction. Finally, Things Beyond Things is a calm balladesque affair, what with its simple motif and soothing vocal melodies.
In the preceding paragraph I mentioned my particular standout tracks, this is not intended to mean that the other numbers present on the album are subpar. It is quite certainly an experience in and of itself to listen to the entire outing back to front; and that is something I can seldom say about a record. Townsend went 110% with his songwriting and instrumentation on the album and it certainly shows. The multitracking and ambiance are witnesses to this. Every second is meticulously crafted to perfection and as such... The album is an utmost joy to experience.