The debut album from Los Angeles based Big Jesus, Oneiric – pronounced O-ni-rik and which apparently means
‘relating to dreams or dreaming’ – is certainly different and in an extremely good way. A fusion of elctro-punk with more than hint of rock, it is a work of contradictory ideas that somehow meld into something that is at once likeable and thought provoking.
Spencer Ussery’s vocals are reminiscent of a gentle breeze blowing off the sea, with his gaspy style a calming influence. This, and the bass he also calmly thrums out, stands out against the busy backdrop of the instrumentation being provided by C J Ridings and Thomas Gonzalez’s guitar work and the rhythms offered by Joe Sweat on drums (and if that isn’t a boss name for a drummer, I don’t know what is!).
The end result is that there is a somewhat ambient etherealism about the whole album, which is at once soothing and energising. Like being hypnotised and yet fully aware of what’s going on.
A great example of this is the superb Heaviest Heart, wherein a minor neutronic collision seems to take place from which a whole array of aural colours transcend into one almighty cosmic kaleidoscope of peace and tranquillity. As the album’s closer, it sits where it does perfectly but it is not to say that Big Jesus have left the best until last by any means.
The blasting, authoritative crispness of Always is a proper tune that resonates way beyond the mainstream, whereas the near-anthemic Fader is arguably residing in a place Joy Division would be cohabiting had the late great Ian Curtis not so been so cruelly taken from us. Indeed such is the originality of Oneiric, Curtis would have roundly applauded the almost tactile nature of the album’s content particularly its sweeping, swooping musical linguistics.
Yet the stand out track is unquestionably Lock & Key, with its punchy, gut wrenching bravado evoking feelings of urgency that transcends mere want and ventures into something more vital. The input of Matt Hyde – producer of the Deftones and Slayer amongst others – helps bring out a richness in tone that might otherwise be missing, too, and so provides a overall clarity without which the album would have very different feel indeed.
That this band have been together since 2009 is obvious from the tightness and determination in directing where they want the album to take us . In the end, Oneiric is a superb work of beautifully crafted seamlessness that will ultimately appeal to anybody unafraid of ‘the different’ in every way.