Out of time
Can't keep pace
From the human race
You've had enough of civilisation. Life hasn't treated you well: no career, no lover, no joy - just bitterness. You want nothing more than to be disconnected from the human race. You take off across an icy, snow-swept landscape with nothing but the huge fur coat on your back, no thoughts as to where you'll end up or if you'll come back. And the soundtrack that guides you into a careless oblivion? The heavy slab of psychedelic rock that is Ocean Towers' Distractions
Clearly taking inspiration from the chilling, tranquil winters of their homeland Nova Scotia, Canada, this four-piece have spent a number of years perfecting their slow-burning, rumbling and rugged sound as an ode to this small, isolated corner of the Americas. Beginning with the raw stoner-rock sound of their EP Chapter 1
, expanding into the two ethereal 20-minute jams of Chapter 2
, we are finally presented with their debut LP. Fusing the tight song structures of their first with the dense environment of their second release, the band have crafted an album of simple yet brilliant songs that thrive on an incredible atmosphere.
While there is little variation between tracks, each ranging from a slow to mid-pace and featuring a low-end, straightforward guitar riff, every one holds you enthralled with their small developments and how damn hard
they groove. The bass is prominent and heavy as hell, creating the core of the band's sound for the guitar and drums to drive the songs back and forth between heaviness and serenity, with the keyboards gently forging an airy ambience. Stand-out Ascension
is the best example of this, beginning subtly with Pink Floyd-esque atmospherics before building up and then hitting us with distortion as Jon Dacey slides the length of his guitar's fretboard, delivering an immense sound and a groove that will melt your brain.
The album's strongest moments also lie in the two instrumental tracks that mark the first and second third of the album, Respite
. Each comprising of one barely changing riff, the grooves have ample time to slowly develop, with scattered keyboard and guitar licks, amplifier feedback and drum fills conjuring atmosphere. This does not mean that the vocals are weak; Dacey's gruff, brazen voice gives the music its bristled, bitter edge, an important aspect of Ocean Towers' identity. Their lyrics keep to the band's 'simple but effective' ethic, creating this theme of abandoning the tedium and monotony of society plus occasionally offering social commentary, such as Shifting Circles
' "There's no difference in the left or right."
However, when drummer Brian Stroud steps up to the mic for Lake Echo
there is a dip in quality, his vocals arguably being weaker than Dacey's, with a higher range and the odd crack in his voice. Dacey's voice is hardly perfect though and is something that, along with the lyrics, can be developed in later releases.
For a debut album, Distractions is a remarkable achievement, the band showing a deep level of maturity and tightness in their musicianship and ability to forge icy atmospheres as well as killer grooves. Nonetheless, the simplicity of their music as it is currently means that more of the same kind of material will become as monotonous as the everyday life they scorn throughout the album. The fact that they have become a six-piece since its release however excitingly promises even denser atmosphere in the future and a potential for further exploration into the deep, chilling landscape of Nova Scotia.