Release Date: September 9, 2008
This recent release from Epitaph Records, headed up by Bad Religion’s Brett Gurewitz, is another voyage into the unknown by the largely underground band The Sound of Animals Fighting.
The Ocean and the Sun features masked band members who represent various new wave bands, and each is known as a different animal that corresponds to his mask. The name of the band is meant to make audiences think about how the different aspects of life and earth come together, not always in a violent way, but perhaps a necessary and at times unfortunate respect.
This is the sort of music that could be compared to modern new wave compositions like those of Strunz and Farah, but with an edgier sound due to the dark lilt of the melody and a somewhat rock-alternative vibe to the drum line.
An almost astounding number of instruments are called into play at any given moment in a song, making the music neither predictable nor entirely akin to any other band or genre of music in particular. The use of these various wind, string, and percussion instruments, coupled with the eerie effect of the masked musicians, does set the music apart from a sometimes harsh backdrop and creates a somewhat ethereal atmosphere.
Epitaph Records is well known for spinning out punk bands and other similar recording artists within punk’s outer genres, but for many of us it is difficult to acknowledge a band like The Sound of Animals Fighting as something Epitaph would or should have an interest in. Nevertheless, the band has amassed a very enthusiastic fan base, some of whom feel that The Ocean and the Sun should be this year’s most highly touted release.
Is it worth the money? The answer to this question depends on how you take to new wave music, or perhaps even modern dance and art. Since the tracks are very much up for individual interpretation and truly do offer some insight into the inner workings of our society and planet, there is something to be gained by patient listeners; whether or not you can get into the eclectic harmony of the music is another matter entirely.
The Ocean and the Sun may present a new spin on music, an innovative look at life, and the opportunity to judge the music without pinning labels on unknown musicians, but I found the album too much work to listen to. I realize this is unfortunate, but if you feel up to the task, The Sound of Animals Fighting could really blow you away. How the album will affect you is anyone’s guess.