Over the course of three albums in the shape of Out Of Phase (2007), Veils (2011) and From Tomorrow (2013), The Oscillation has come to be established as one of the premier voyagers and navigators of the politics of consciousness. While the purity of their vision is diluted in lesser hands in an ever-expanding scene, The Oscillation’s dexterity in moulding and manipulating sound into an aural kaleidoscope remains undiminished.
Presented here is a collection of not only rare and previously released material grabbed by eager hands but also a handful gems that are finally seeing the light of day. In doing so, The Oscillation are giving off more than a reflection of their talents; here, they’re offering something much more and go beyond the mirror.
Four of these tracks have already been released as b-sides and limited EPs, all of which have sold out. The unreleased tracks are expressions that haven’t been able to fit on previous albums but demand your attention to present another side of The Oscillation.
Which, of course, they do. ‘Waste the Day’ (b-side of Record Store Day release ‘No Place To Go’) is a groove-based beast that moves confidently in and around broad strokes of sound. But it’s with the unreleased material where the jewels shine with hypnotic and glorious wonder. ‘Endless Oblivion’ shimmers in a loaded haze as ‘The Detour’ and ‘The Mirror Pool’ find The Oscillation developing a new vernacular.
There’s an undeniable sense of liberation about these songs. Eschewing the need for narrative and continuity, these rarities work well together with a compelling mix of heavy delivery and an unabashed melodic sensibility.
The Oscillation have long been regarded as one of the foremost purveyors of psych/neo-psych and, over the course of three albums (‘Out Of Phase’, ‘Veils’ and ‘From Tomorrow’),their reputation for producing crystalline kaleidoscopes of sound has grown and grown. earlier this year main man Demian Castellanos enhanced his own reputation with his solo outing ‘The Kyvu Tapes Vol.1 (1990-1998)’, reviewed on these very pages. ‘Beyond The Mirror’ is an illuminating collection of B-sides and unreleased tracks that have either been tucked away on the flip side of singles or, for some reason, have yet to see the light of day.
‘Braindrainer’ (originally on 2012’s “Fall” E.P.) is a groove driven instrumental number with an insistent bass line over which some glorious washes of sound give it a psychedelic, spacey feel. It motors along and is nigh on impossible not to nod your head; a cracking start to any album. ‘Waste The Day’ was the B-side to the ‘No Place To Go’ single of 2012 and is, again, another groove laden track but this time is graced by Castellanos’ muted, almost dreampop, vocals backed with some spacey effects and a rock solid rhythm section. At times the soaring guitar threatens to engulf the vocals but are held back with some restraint. ‘Kissing The Sun’ from the 2013 ‘Travel Expop Series #2’ sees the band heading off into kosmische territory with a motorik rhythm that doesn’t quit and synth lines and guitar combining to give a spacey vibe to proceedings. It is the unreleased tracks that provide real interest to this collection; ‘The Mirror Pool’, for example, which starts like a John Carpenter soundtrack a la Umberto, all drone and eighties synths. Once again it is graced by the vocals of Castellanos which are more spoken than sung and raise the inherent feeling of foreboding and suspense. It signals a totally different modus operandi for the band (and one that I personally think bears some future experimentation). ‘Endless Oblivion’ is another unreleased number and is one of the heavier numbers on the album. Some fab fuzz guitar and a relentless drum beat reminiscent of The Jesus And Mary Chain all accompanied by some swathes of synth and spacey swirls and swoops. As the track progresses the guitars become more insistent and overtly psych – fantastic stuff! The unreleased ‘Crystalline Tears’ sees the band veering into more unknown territory, this time a synth driven excursion into Tangerine Dream-like ambience; blissful and beautiful. ‘Insect Attention’, originally on the “Travel Expop Series #2” of 2013, is the soundtrack to a nightmare (and I mean that in a good way); whispered, echoey vocals over dissonent synths and unsettling effects all underpinned by a sub-motorik beat. The previously unreleased ‘The Detour’ closes proceedings in a dreamy haze of dreampop that shimmers and shines and gradually builds into psych based shoegaze.
‘Beyond The Mirror’ gives us a glimpse of a band who are unfettered by stylistic constraints and are willing to experiment and let their creativity run riot; the breadth of styles on the album is breathtaking with every track showing a different facet to the group. There are lots of bands out there who would give their eyeteeth for any of the tracks on this record, a collection of B-sides and unreleased material, and I think that reflects the artistry and ingenuity of the band. This is a fascinating collection of sounds from a band at the top of their game….pretty essential listening!
Whilst last years Cable Street Sessions showed a further movement in sound and, with a full band joining lead man Demian Castellanos, much wider scope to explore his krautrock soundscapes, here we look back with an album of rare and unreleased tracks from The Oscillation. Don’t be put off by this though as it is certainly no back step and the music on offer here is some of the most hallucinogenic and tranced out psych that DC and co have placed on record. Almost as if a door is being closed on the past we get an intriguing behind the scenes look at a band who may well earn the right to be called the ultimate psychedelic band.
With four tracks being previously released, albeit on formats which would be scarce to get hold of now, and four that have never seen the light of day, Beyond The Mirror casts a reflection of a band or (as is the primary case) of a man who is constantly seeking to explore new avenues of sound. By taking the old and linking it in with a new aesthetic, Demian creates music which bends your mind whilst undulating around several corners. Never black and white, you think you have a grasp of what he is doing before yet another curve-ball comes in.
‘Kissing The Sun’ is a great example of this. For all the world sounding like a run of the mill electronic krautrock track, it soon drops down into uncharted territory as the bottom falls out of the music. Before long you are being swept along vistas of passionate music which, due to the freaked out nature, causes lysergic signals to sweep through your mind. It’s psychedelia of the highest order and perhaps only Gnod are currently going further.
The first unreleased track ‘The Mirror Pool’ goes even further and as the throwback electronic opening incorporates the classic sound of Tangerine Dream and even Jean Michel Jarre, the almost robotic vocals of Castellanos make for a disturbing entreaty. Indeed, as the music builds, that sense of foreboding increases until it hits breaking point and The Oscillation become a frightening behemoth. Truly terrifying, it’s dark psych of the highest grade.
You can hear the genesis of previous releases through these songs and it certainly is like holding a mirror up only to find a completely opposite view. What is more surprising is that for an album of odds and sods they fit so well together and it is a cohesive listen from start to finish. From the staid (by later standards) opener of ‘Braindrainer’ through the intense and pounding ‘Endless Oblivion’ later on, a thread runs through which tells a story. Quite what that story is depends on your imagination (or the drugs you may be on).
There is beauty amongst the chaos too as is heard on the splendid ‘Crystalline Tears’ which floats like through the ether bringing you down from the previous tracks full on stomp. It’s what makes The Oscillation such an intriguing prospect and part of you wonders just how they may progress now the dynamics have changed and a full band is in tow. Early soundings are good and with the genius that is Castellanos, you can imagine a tight reign will be held on the good ship. Maybe this is the closing of a chapter. If it is, then we have been well served and can now look forward to more adventures in the outer zone as the band gear up for a release of new material.