In the middle of the global pandemic, The Ocean are about to conclude their most engrossing endeavour to date. In 2018, they released Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic – the first half of a sprawling but superbly cohesive palaeontology concept album. In September 2020, The Ocean are poised to release the eagerly-awaited concluding parts of the Phanerozoic journey. Completing the album took longer than expected, because of the band’s heavy touring schedule since the release of Phanerozoic I: impressions of these adventures through India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe are documented in the 130-page Phanerozoic photo-book that will be released along with the vinyl edition of Part II. In contrast with the compositional directness of Phanerozoic I, the new album – Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic – is a vastly more progressive and perverse piece of work.
Divided into two sections – Mesozoic and Cenozoic – Phanerozoic II once again showcases the detail and depth that have become two of The Ocean’s most enduring trademarks. While ostensibly delving into the extraordinary realities of the Earth’s shifting temporal tides, Staps and his comrades have long drawn hazy parallels between their chosen subjects and the emotional experiences that their music strives to convey. Phanerozoic II is essentially an album about time, with some very poignant and pointed allusions to the modern world woven into the new music’s spiritual fabric.
A profound cautionary tale, Phanerozoic II is underpinned by some of the most imaginative and challenging music that The Ocean – completed by drummer Paul Seidel, keyboard maestro Peter Voigtmann, bassist Mattias Hägerstrand and guitarist David Ramis Ahfeldt – have made yet. Tracked in Iceland, Spain and Germany and produced by esteemed studio guru Jens Bogren, the album is once again blessed with the presence of Jonas Renkse, whose peerless vocals find another sublime backdrop during the second half of mammoth epic Jurassic / Cretaceous.
The Ocean have long been known for their extensive, awe-inspiring album packaging, and their 10th album is no let-down: the Phanerozoic wooden box set included an engraved slate rock plate next to vinyl records and/or CDs of both albums, and even authentic pre-historic fossils: a trilobite from the Palaeozoic, an ammonite from the Mesozoic and a petrified fish skeleton from the Cenozoic era. The band sourced these fossils over the period of several months with the help of a geological institute in Munich, and getting the quantities needed to fulfil 1,000 box set preorders was a great challenge: hundreds of Moroccan trilobites, 450 million (!) years of age, had to be sourced from global trade fairs.
Released into a world in turmoil, Phanerozoic II will provide fans of adventurous and challenging music with all the sonic and philosophical sustenance they have come to expect from this most intuitively progressive German / Swiss / Swedish musicians collective.
Phanerozoic II is out on September 25th, 2020 via Metal Blade Records (CD / digital) and Pelagic Records (vinyl).