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Oxcart - 2011 - "Beekeeper Constellation"

(50:25, ‘Oxcart’)


1.  Drawbridge 1:59
2.  Delusions 6:20
3.  The Light 5:20
4.  Zenith 2:28
5.  Ember 2:30
6.  Fire 5:49
7.  Possum 4:25
8.  Nationalism Anthem 6:57
9.  The Beekeeper 5:22
10. Speakeasy 9:15


Matt Jones – keyboards, guitars, vocals
Jason Baker – guitars, vocals
Alex Feletar – drums 
Eric Welder – bass 

Prolusion. The American band OXCART is based in the US Northwest, and first appeared in 2005 with its debut album "Sasquatch?". Since then two more productions have followed, of which "Beekeeper Constellation" from 2011 is the most recent. And in what appears to be an increasingly common trend, this CD was self released, just like either of the previous ones.

Analysis. One of the intriguing aspects of living in a society where making and releasing music has become a relatively common spare time occupation rather than a project limited to the few and dedicated is to witness how musical boundaries have become of lesser importance. When I grew up crossing stylistic boundaries was generally regarded as something a band didn't experiment too much with, without doubt harnessed by record labels who wanted their artists to be marketed towards a select niche audience. Oxcart is a fine example of one of these current bands that defies the rigid genre boundaries of old. Describing the musical contents of "Beekeeper Constellation" is a task that is a tad more challenging due to this. This is a band that borrows a number of details from several artists exploring rather different musical territories, and the end result isn't easy to put into a regular context either. The main premise of their compositions appears to be blending contrasting themes, where the verse parts tend to be of a gentle nature, while chorus parts and instrumental passages are darker in tone and sporting textures of a harder hitting overall nature. The former often remind of Rush at their gentlest for the less elaborate parts, while the more refined instances showcase a distinct inspiration from late 70's Pink Floyd. But when the guitar riffs appear, dark in tone and twisted in nature, the legacy of Black Sabbath comes to the fore, occasionally with a slight tendency towards grunge, sometimes with twisted, quirky tendencies that make me suspect that this is a band that knows their Tool too. And on a couple of occasions guitars, bass and drums combine in energetic interwoven themes that will bring forth distinct associations to a band like Queens of the Stone Age, simple, vital and highly effective. But there's also room for passages of a gentler and totally different nature, like the jazz-tinged piano motif found on The Beekeeper. And in a case of further associations and breach of genre conventions, lead vocalist Baker appears to have taken his cues for vocal delivery from a certain Kurt Cobain. Oxcart is a band skilled at utilizing contrasts and subtle elements to keep matters interesting, even when hitting a rare purebred stylistic excursion on final track Speakeasy, a creation that really flaunts their Pink Floyd-ian inspirations. But as intriguing as the end result is to this set of ears, I'm curious as to how much of a reach this genre-blending band eventually will manage to build up.

Conclusion. Too sophisticated for a regular hard rock or metal oriented crowd, I suspect, but perhaps found ever so slightly lacking in the same department by the ardent progressive rock fan. That is my main impression of this fine US quartet. As such, those fond of all those styles and generally fond of artists that ignore genre conventions should be a perfect crowd for this act, with those who have Pink Floyd and Queens of the Stone Age side by side in their music collections probably something of a key audience.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 17, 2012
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