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TOPIC: Oceania - Settled Thoughts?

Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116316

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So now that the "honeymoon" period has passed and Oceania is nearly four months old, I'm interested to know what you guys think of the album as of now? Have your original opinions of the album changed over the past few months, for better or worse?

Personally, my opinion is that it is a very strong album, musically more so than lyrically. The constant lyrical theme of "Love" does get a bit repetitive after a few full listens but I suppose the purpose of the album being a "journey" gives that theme more credence.
I do agree that the album is very poppy in some places but I think that was welcome after the pure ROCK that was Zeitgeist and Billy's recent talk of a heavier album next time around has me genuinely excited for the future!

My favourite song is probably Violet Rays, just. Songs like Inkless and MLIW come close. I just think that Violet Rays has such a unique feel to it, not only in terms of the album but in terms of SP as a whole. I can't think of one song that it reminds me of and that's a pure sign of this band finally finding something new!

One complaint that I would have is Wildflower as the closer. Although I appreciate the song and actually really like the solo towards the end, I just think it is unnecessary in the grand scheme of the album. Would Inkless have been a better closer? Possibly, but I guess that depends on your take on the album's journey. Wildflower would give off a more sorrowful conclusion whereas Inkless would give off a Zwan-type ending.

That's my only gripe with the album really but overall, very pleased with it and looking forward to more work from the four of them!
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Last Edit: 6 years 7 months ago by Murder McMurderson.
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116318

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Well I've never personally LISTENED to this album, but after reading your review I'm sure that I love it! I'm settled. Its a masterpiece. :james
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116322

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Hey nerdxxx,
welcome :)

Concerning Oceania...well...I feel like the magic is a bit gone.
It's a very strong album and I really haven't expected Billy to record such a good album BUT it definitley has some serious issues.
Many of the lyrics seem a bit pointless to me (Quasar, Glissandra...) and the music overall sounds a bit too safe.
That said, large parts of the album are very well written and it features some instant SP classics like Pale Horse (the best song BC wrote in a decade) that deserve to be named together with songs like Thru The Eyes Of Ruby or Aeroplane Flies High.
Another thing that really surprised me was the epic gothic rock power of Oceania (the song) which recalls memories of MACHINA's Glass And The Ghost Children. The lyrics are just fabulous and center around the essential SP topics like loss, lonliness and fear.
Other standout tracks are Panopticon, Violet Rays and Inkless.
And I couldn't name a really bad tune.
But there are many tunes I really love which unfortunately tend to get a bit cheesy at times, no matter how well the basic framework is written.
The best example is Pinwheels I think.
This could have been a song on par with Pale Horse but the production and the overall sound have a bit too much pop and gloss.
I really love Pinwheels and especially the live version shows the full power of the song, but the album version suffers the Siamese syndrome.
Other songs with the same flaw are My Love Is Winter and The Celestials.
The main problem is that the overall album (except Oceania, Pale Horse and the "alternate version" of Pinwheels) is well done but can't reach the stuff SP once did and there is no excuse since Billy wanted Oceania to be part of SP canon.
It is, I repeat, a very good album that exceeded all my expectations after the turd fest Shitgeist was but it will never enter the special place in my heart where Gish, the SD live versions, Pisces, MCIS / Aeroplane, Adore, MACHINA (full) and some selected side project tunes by Billy sit.
Last Edit: 6 years 7 months ago by DON.
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116327

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Same here, I would say Oceania is "good", albeit a bit underwhelming obviously when compared to 90's SP. That said, it has its moments which do have that special feel to them. Maybe get rid of 2 or 3 of the poppy filler songs and it would be more spectacular. I feel like the only person who doesn't like Pinwheels though, that Christmas ringtone opening bugs the shit out of me :p And I'd have to say My Love is Winter is one of my favorite tracks, the different take on it from the live sessions was a bit strange at first, but I think it works. And it feels like the theme is a good representation of the music nowadays.
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116332

I really like Oceania. It probably helps that I expected it to be complete crap, right up to the first time I played it (on the iTunes stream).

Overall, yeah, it's not as good as MCIS, Adore or SD. But that's because I prefer my music with extra bleakness and Oceania is lacking a bit there. The only real problem with Oceania are the attempts at heavier songs. Panopticon is actually very good, but even there Billy's vocals don't match the ferocity of the music. Quasar is ruined by the lyrics and the trilogy near the end feel like they're trying to rock but ultimately just sound like pop rock, especially compared to how Billy used to rock things when he really knew how.

Still, despite those flaws I still really like it and it's one of my top albums of this year so far.
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116342

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Overall, I still like Oceania a lot.

I do miss the dynamics in BC's vocal range as that is still a bit lacking here.
@Venison: I like Pinwheels, but I do think it meanders a bit too much in the beginning.
Sure some of the lyrics aren't gold but overall I think they work. As an album statement, I would say this album works much better than Zeitgeist and possibly even Machina 1.
My favorite moments being "Pale Horse", "Violet Rays", and "Inkless". Some of SPs best tunes PERIOD. I'm very excited for whatever they decide to attempt next.
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116347

kjrain12 wrote:
I do miss the dynamics in BC's vocal range as that is still a bit lacking here.

Ah, yes, that says it perfectly! It isn't so much that his voice is bad now, just that it tends to be one flat state throughout the album, whereas in the past he could go from raging fury to innocent fragility within one song. I miss that.
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116352

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epitome wrote:
kjrain12 wrote:
I do miss the dynamics in BC's vocal range as that is still a bit lacking here.

Ah, yes, that says it perfectly! It isn't so much that his voice is bad now, just that it tends to be one flat state throughout the album, whereas in the past he could go from raging fury to innocent fragility within one song. I miss that.

Yes exactly! That was one of the most magical aspects of the original SP and I miss it alot as well.
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116363

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epitome wrote:
kjrain12 wrote:
I do miss the dynamics in BC's vocal range as that is still a bit lacking here.

Ah, yes, that says it perfectly! It isn't so much that his voice is bad now, just that it tends to be one flat state throughout the album, whereas in the past he could go from raging fury to innocent fragility within one song. I miss that.
I wonder if there's a corresponding flatness of expression in his sex life.

"unh. unh. unh. [nasal] ehhhhhh."
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116368

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venison wrote:
epitome wrote:
kjrain12 wrote:
I do miss the dynamics in BC's vocal range as that is still a bit lacking here.

Ah, yes, that says it perfectly! It isn't so much that his voice is bad now, just that it tends to be one flat state throughout the album, whereas in the past he could go from raging fury to innocent fragility within one song. I miss that.
I wonder if there's a corresponding flatness of expression in his sex life.

"unh. unh. unh. [nasal] ehhhhhh."

I might recall the sheep sound the Bolly choir makes at each chorus of Bleeding The Orchid...
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116374

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Well, this thread has taken a turn, haha! Now, with that post^, everyone's going to think of BC's sex life when they hear Bleeding the Orchid. :billy
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116377

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kjrain12 wrote:
Well, this thread has taken a turn, haha! Now, with that post^, everyone's going to think of BC's sex life when they hear Bleeding the Orchid. :billy

JESUS! :D
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116385

In the past two months, this went from my currently most listened Pumpkins album... to my only listened Pumpkins album. I haven't touched any other for what seems like an eternity. I would probably rate the album, as a total, higher than I originally did, since I have come around to both Oceania and Glissandra. Any flaws I have (rarely) perceived are endearing and characterizing rather than annoying.

Dare I say it? Does it stand as an equal with SD and MCIS? I honestly feel it does.
DON wrote:
Many of the lyrics seem a bit pointless to me

I would argue that is Billy's art, though. He said/insinuated as much in the reissue liners many times. Geek U.S.A. Is always going to be in my top tracks and I love the lyrics, but reading the reissue liners the lyrics were cooked up as filler to meet a deadline. I've found as a general rule of thumb (feel free to call me on this) that the more pointless, meaningless, and ambiguous lyrics are from any artist, you tend to draw more connection and depth from them than you would from a lyric that means one thing and one thing only. Mustard Lies? Faithless Moors? Panda Shows? Spark the Charts? Apple Eyes? Open to interpretation, and thus more of an imaginative journey for the listener. Now, the theme of the metaphors is a different subject altogether.
DON wrote:
This could have been a song on par with Pale Horse but the production and the overall sound have a bit too much pop and gloss.

I wonder how Pinwheels would have sounded if it was on Machina II? :billy Not jumping on you DON, I knew you'd say this :D Siamese Syndrome is also what I'll refer to it as from now on. 8-)
DON wrote:
It is, I repeat, a very good album that exceeded all my expectations after the turd fest Shitgeist was but it will never enter the special place in my heart where Gish, the SD live versions, Pisces, MCIS / Aeroplane, Adore, MACHINA (full) and some selected side project tunes by Billy sit.

Aw. 8-) Still the Pumpkins though?
venison wrote:
Maybe get rid of 2 or 3 of the poppy filler songs and it would be more spectacular.

skreeeeeeeeeeee Whoa, what?
epitome wrote:
The only real problem with Oceania are the attempts at heavier songs. Panopticon is actually very good, but even there Billy's vocals don't match the ferocity of the music.

Heavy ≠ Ferocious/Angry. At least in my book. It's very refreshing to have some great rocking Pumpkin tunes with a happy/wistful spin, it's not a very common combination. "There's a sun that shines in/There's a world that stares out at me and all I refuse to please..." Reading that, I would expect a folksy, sad acoustic number to go along with it. I find it stunning that it could instead be paired with a rising, monolithic musical assault with a cautiously happy tone, and still work amazingly well. From my general experience, all three of those factors would be seemingly contradictory yet they all work for each other.
kjrain12 wrote:
Sure some of the lyrics aren't gold but overall I think they work. As an album statement, I would say this album works much better than Zeitgeist and possibly even Machina 1.

Completely agree. What do you think the statement here is, kj?
epitome wrote:
Ah, yes, that says it perfectly! It isn't so much that his voice is bad now, just that it tends to be one flat state throughout the album, whereas in the past he could go from raging fury to innocent fragility within one song. I miss that.

I don't know if flat would be a the best term for it, first because of its connotation in musical theory and second because of the implication of lifelessness, to which I would wholeheartedly disagree. Maybe dynamic would be a better word?

Anyway, I completely agree with this. But I'll qualify my total enjoyment of the album despite this factor by saying that it doesn't have a musical or lyrical relation, it is more along the lines of guitar tone or effects pedal, and total musical quality does not have to turn on it.




Side note! What happened to the life of this forum? No time to spare lately? No impending releases or politics in Pumpkinland? Everyone is on the same plane so there is no controversy? I miss the discussions. Interesting distraction from everyday life.
Last Edit: 6 years 7 months ago by Sikamikanico999.
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116387

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kjrain12 wrote:
Well, this thread has taken a turn, haha! Now, with that post^, everyone's going to think of BC's sex life when they hear Bleeding the Orchid. :billy
You mean that wasn't the case already? :yay

As to your last question Sik, I think yeah we're all satiated. Bellies are full of pumpkins releases. See you all next harvest season!
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116392

venison wrote:
kjrain12 wrote:
Well, this thread has taken a turn, haha! Now, with that post^, everyone's going to think of BC's sex life when they hear Bleeding the Orchid. :billy
You mean that wasn't the case already? :yay

As to your last question Sik, I think yeah we're all satiated. Bellies are full of pumpkins releases. See you all next harvest season!

It'd be better if SPRC was officially renamed the Pumpkin Harvest.

And DON, could you revisit your early review, like, review your review? Add notations to what you said earlier? That'd be very interesting.
Last Edit: 6 years 7 months ago by Sikamikanico999.
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116393

Sikamikanico999 wrote:
And DON, could you revisit your early review, like, review your review? Add notations to what you said earlier? That'd be very interesting.

Wow, this is taking Pumpkin nerdiness to all new levels! :billy
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116394

I didn't know a simple before/after contrast qualified as nerdy :s
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116395

Yep ;)
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116397

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Reviewing the review?
A good idea, my view on the album has drastically changed indeed.
Sounds crazy enough and like fun, maybe tonite... :)
I'm gonna quote every section and update them.
The empire of nerdom will be pleased.
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Oceania - Settled Thoughts? 6 years 7 months ago #116412

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Oceania - review of my early blog review :D
Quasar, the labyrinth of a 5 minutes long intro (!) sets the sails for this journey: warm, psychedelic, yet rocking. OK, the lyrics are a bit too cheesy but why should we care?
Hell yeah, even the first minute has more SP in it than Mary Star+The Future Embrace+Zeitgeist together.
OK, it does sound like SP but not like them, just like some SP likeness...it's hard to explain....still a nice rocker but overlong.
I was very gentle on the lyrics because the lyrics actually suck ass. Simple as that.
Guess Jesus, Muhammed and Maha Vishnu were on holidays when Billy made his recall of gods, prophets and halfgods...

Panopticon seems like the second half to track #1 (or maybe the first "real" song after the "intro") and has everything a SP song is supposed to have:
Lyrics of happy sadness, a strong melody on the verse and the chorus, the "big muff overload guitars" and something that makes it feel dizzy and rocking at the same time. This is so cool!
And it would have been cooler if they would have dropped the cheese off of the production.
The song itsself is great.
But this is a hard rocker, so record it as a hard rocker for fuck's sake!
As the other master of "avoiding to be cheesy by getting as close to it as possible" (besides Steven Wilson), Billy, throws in The Celestials as the third track and if thought you already heard it all and that this was just a lurk warm synth-pomp reprise of ballads like Disarm, the driven guitars from the second chorus on will blow this doubts into space far beyond our quasar. Another winner, definite SP but unlike anything before. If there was a single, I bet it was.
Man, this is gonna center around the cheese all the time...
I don't really have anything to complain about here except the Siamese Syndrome.
This song successfully recreates the SP sound of long gone days and sounds like a SD era outtake.
The Violet Rays are definitely coming from the most hooky synth-line since the mid-80s which is the heart of this masterpiece.
Everything else recalls grand MACHINA-era goth rock songs like I Of The Mourning or Speed Kills without copying them at all.
The lyrics are there and so is one of the best choruses Billy has written since Adore's Dusty&Pistol Pete.
100% of the SP atmosphere I was missing since 2000 is back!
This song will squeeze everything out of the old-school gothness-SP fan's soul.
It's a miracle and this song alone was worth purchasing the album twice (on vinyl and CD).
Yeah, it's still grand!
I really can't complain and I still feel like this song was even produced in a fitting way...it's just sandwiched between two overdone songs.
Standing alone this is almost classic SP, but it feels a bit lazy, and toothless like Billy should have unleashed something special in the last third, expanding this to Soma length with some creative and spacy ideas.
I haven't heard any live incarnation of My Love Is Winter, so I can't compare it at all.
The thing for me is that this song was unfortunately set after Violet Rays which feels superior for me.
Standing alone, My Love Is Winter enfolds its true potential which is nothing but another mid-tempo hit on par with legendary Stand Inside Your Love.
I love how the minor chord in the chorus finally turns into a major chord in the last one.
Another good song, shoe gazing at it's finest.
The songwriting here is brilliant, the production really kills it (yes, I have listened to live versions in the meantime).
Too much synth, a too fast tempo and the song is way too short.
One Diamond, One Heart surely was a shock to all hard rock SP fans for it sounds like being completely recorded on synths only.
I'm fine with synth music and I always will.
This another candidate for the fine line between cheese and genius and again Billy proofs the doubters wrong:
There is some weird 80s-quality to it and I can't help but feel like this is the best Power, Corruption & Lies-era New Order song they never wrote.
And more so, a synth track at this point feels refreshing enough.
Synth feels refreshing at this point?!
I have to admit I still like the song a lot because it was done consistnetly - this is just cheesy synths and some love lyrics, no pretending to be anything else.
And this make it actually work in a good way.
Once again we are entering the olymp of Billy's best songs he ever wrote with Pinwheels.
There's so much to it that I can hardly put everything in this short review but I try to capture the most important things:
I fucking love the idea of a 2-minutes long intro which perfectly raises the excitement of the listener until it hits us right:
After the ocean of synths and fuzz-guitars just Billy and his acoustic.
A melody, pure like no other ever before hits our ears and then the band sets in and I'm away.
Nicole's superb singing, the galore of beautiful melodies, the gospel feeling and in the middle of it all Billy with love-lyrics that feel nothing but true - after all these years.
On my first listen this was the song that made me cry for a few moments...if Violet Rays was 100% SP this is 120% and it even over shades some original SP efforts for me (I never thought I would ever write that).
I think I had a cold when I listened to it for the first time.
The writing is superb, the execution alright.
I don't mind the overlong intro, I really love it.
What I don't love is the Siamese Syndrome entering the choruses which makes it sound overproduced.
Apart from that this is almost a classic SP entry; I just wish it was recorded in a more natural way.
But I should still hold my horses because Pinwheels is followed by a track that is equally great in a different way.
As almost every of Billy's long tracks, Oceania has two main sections, an out-of this-world-bridge (here: the acoustic part) and a bunch of creative ideas and guitar sounds we never ever heard before.
The first section builds and collapses all the time, shifting and moving from here to there and back. But it still manages to build up a dark atmosphere and the feeling of something epic.
Out of nowhere, there suddenly is the acoustic section; almost like a middle-finger to all those who feel to well in their old-fashioned prog-rock structures, rather expecting some heavy riffing instead.
And then the biggest bad ass drums ever mixed (I wonder how many tracks Mike did) fade in and blow the dust out of my speakers and my brain too.
This second half feels like tripping on a dark ocean towards the dawn with heavy drums kicking you forward and kickin' and kickin' and kickin'...
And suddenly all fades and the best nightmare I ever had is gone. I want back into it!
Nothing to add here, this is a masterpiece and deserves to be part of SP canon on par with longtracks like Glass And The Ghost Children.
The lyrics are prefect and dealing with everything SP (angst, fear, loss, lonliness, darkness) and the music is just epic beyond believe, the eerie and convoluted production works in favour of the track here.
Pale Horse makes the third 1A-SP song in a row.
If I wouldn't know better (and if it wasn't for Nicole's voice), I'd bet this was left-off Adore or MCIS for some reason.
The "Pale Horse theme" is one of the most addicting things I have ever heard, the lyrics are full of wise innuendos towards Billy's mother, insanity and death.
The "Thora Zine, Thora Zine, Thora Zine...." moments will be burnt into your souls until you pass.
It's one of those "I'm finally freed by dying-themed songs" like With Every Light.
Soothing, moving and meaningfully thought-provoking the pale horse rides on.
Again one of the best songs Billy ever did.
Oh yes!
Finally this is my favourite on the album, adore-esque beyond believe and completly well recorded.
It' just SP, listen to it, I'm still lost for words.
It's weird but refreshing to place The Chimera here.
It just sounds like visiting the old optimistic SP-sound by quoting Rocket, Frail & Bedazzled and Muzzle all at once.
Throw in some ZWAN production and there you go with maybe the album's happiest and maybe most rocking (in an old-school way) song.
There's nothing wrong with The Chimera other than following three of the best songs ever written, that's what makes it feel pale which it clearly is not.
The perfect song to start your solstice fire party.
This is a lighthearted re-hash of the early SP harmony greatness and I don't mind it.
Nowhere near Billy's best songs but a lovingly done hommage to the good old days.
On my first listen I turned down Glissandra but it grew on me.
The strange main riff sounds like coming from an early Sonic Youth record and is hooky enough to stay with you long after the album is over.
Glissandra's rest is not as dramatic as most of Oceania but it has a very nice, psychedelic rock flow going that keeps us interested even though it clearly is over shaded a bit.
This is a flagging b-side at best. It sounds very repetive and uninspired to me.
It hasn't grown on me and is very annoying in the album's flow after the bunch of great songs.
Well...Inkless...to keep it short, I haven't managed to get into this song yet.
If you thought about Glissandra being the maybe-candidate for a b-side, Inkless definitely is (at least at this listening state I am at the moment).
Compared to all the other tunes before, it falls rather flat and doesn't live up to the insanely high quality of them.
It's OK in the flow...and I think there is a chance that it might grow on me.
Holy mother of ass.
Polar opposite opinion.
Again, it's not the best song of all times but like The Chimera sounds like a forced hommage to the good old original SP days, Inkless sounds like a very relaxed and inspired one.
I could easily see this somewhere at the end of MCIS disc 1 if it was produced a bit more like MCIS.
Nothing like Pale Horse but very good.
I wonder if Billy's voice was intended to sound that whiny as it does in Wildflower.
Other than that, the structure of the song is a brilliant and lurking one.
While you're still wondering about the voice (which only seems to be there to confuse you), the subtle synth and guitar construction crawls under your skin and sinks its teeth in deep until everything climaxes in a noisy psychedelic solo and fades out.
I haven't paid too much attention to this one on my first few listens but on a subliminal level (pretty much like Strayz) this is one of the most intelligent things ever by Billy and deserves more attention and a deeper analysis.
I wouldn't really call it SP but it's an interesting sonic experiment and a satisfying outro to the album.
There's something inside of me worshiping odd Billy moments ("we share the same monkey disease") so I won't bash this one.

The album is still good and offers some real gems but overall it lacks more than any other SP album (Zeitgeist doesn't count) and it grows old WAY too fast (except Oceania and Pale Horse).
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