With their background in pop and rock, the three sessioneers comprising This Oceanic Feeling have unfathomable experience. Vocalist/mainman Chris Braide, drummer Ash Soan and bassist Lee Pomeroy have written and played for the likes of (deep breath) Beyonce, Paloma Faith, Britney Spears, Del Amitri, Robbie Williams, Billy Idol, Geoff Downes, Steve Hackett and It Bites, and both Braide and Soan were involved with Trevor Horn in the Producers project. So there was sizeable interest when they announced they were producing their own pop/prog collection, heralded by a press release name-checking both The Police and Yes’s 90125.
Deeper down, the album reveals more elements: the quality and versatility of Braide’s voice; the low-mixed guitars and Anderson/Squire-like vocal melodies of Universal Mind; the subtle layers of keyboards underpinnin Karma Camera, and the interpolation of the main refrain from Universal Mind with the final couple of minutes of Season of Light. The band apparently take their name from a term for a state of religious joy or limitless elation coined by early psychoanalyst Romain Rolland, and the album is concerned with issues of self-awareness, emotional states and mental health. There’s destructive/violent urges (Put Down the Gun, Johnny Tragic); loss and depression (Radio, I Play Debussy); paranoia/treatment (Logotherapy, Karma Camera) and, on Season Of Light, the hope of passing out of darkness. This is music for grown-ups. It’s for people who don’t need to be bludgeoned by volume or bedazzled by virtuosity. True, there are few big surprises and little in the way of experimentation in song structure or sounds, but you sense that This Oceanic Feeling aren’t much interested in overstatement or grandiose musical gestures. What engages these three, and what emerges from Universal Mind, is the power of restraint, of crafted tunes and of hooks that burrow into the brain. And stay there.