Oceans Away – Electric 85 (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Oceans Away and the story behind it is the perfect example of the mindset which seems to have evolved due to the restrictions of lockdown. As musicians have found themselves shut out from their traditional workplaces, they have retreated more and more into home recordings and distanced collaborations. Ironically, as the physical walls closed in around them, for many, the creative boundaries pushed outward equally.

The result? Music that dropped any sonic constraints or self-view on the part of the creators and just went for it. Music that hopped genric fences, mixed and matched sounds and styles, found inspiration and influence in new places…simply pushed the creative template to new heights.

Oceans Away is a sassy blend of dance and disco, digital sketches turned into analogue playing, or at least a blend of the two, pop poise and rock energy…and more besides. 4th State of Mind is funky and soulful, wandering between busy beats and smooth guitar licks, Unify The World echoes some cool, post-punk moves and is shot through with electro-funk grooves and Don’t Panic is a light and heavenly topline riding some brooding bass, a song that ebbs and flows between subtle and supple breakdowns and soaring sonic crescendoes to create a fantastic dynamic as the song takes the ep home.

Necessity is the mother of invention, so they say, and I’m sure that Electric85 realise that due to the restrictions that weighed down on them they have possibly made music very different from what might have flowed naturally under normal conditions, and certainly done so using different methods. But that is the great thing about creativity, it’s about the happy accidents, about responding to the musical landscape, about working with what you have got.

Oceans Away is a charming and chiming, groovesome and graceful set of songs, one that not only speaks volumes about the joys of musical cross-pollination but which reminds us that often, when the chips are down, when the pressure is on, when the walls are closing in, that is when we do our best work. I like to think that Electric85 would agree with me.

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