ARTIST: RIVER BECOMES OCEAN
TITLE: A MOTION PARALYSED
LABEL: DEPARTMENT MUSIK
WORDS: JO COSGROVE
Bringing together the alternative music scenes from the likes of England, Germany and France, River Becomes Ocean have worked hard as a collective to bring together their debut studio album, ‘A Motion Paralysed’. Following two well-received EPs – 2014’s ‘The World Around Me’ and 2016’s ‘December’ – the group have brought their unique combination of rock and cinematic musical styles to their fanbase in a record they can be and should be proud of.
The album plays as a theatrical treat of its own, and reflects the side of the band that are dedicated to that cinematic and dramatic aspect they pride themselves on. This shows from the very beginning with the opening track: a softer, slow-tempo instrumental-based track titled ‘Brighton’. Obviously named after the British city the band are based in, it plays as a short introduction into the journey this album will become for the listener. It also is a trick on the senses: a soft instrumental composition led by guitar strums and piano keys. Once ‘Brighton’ fades out however, is when the true production begins.
“a record they can be and should be proud of.”
‘This Hell is Heaven Sent’ is much stronger and heavier of a track, contrasting greatly with ‘Brighton’. This contrast however is what the listener would need, as this is the true sound that River Becomes Ocean have been working on throughout the last few years in their musical career. Being a new band in the genre still, forming just short of six years ago, they are establishing their sound in a grand way. They have a steady stance on their sound and are committed to the idea of what music they want to put out to the masses and in what style they want to present it. ‘This Hell is Heaven Sent’ showcases the power of the vocals and percussion specifically; drummer Dorian Neidhardt uses catchy and consistent beats pull the listener in and the versatility in vocals throughout the track is admirable. From harmonising backing vocals – not unlike a church choir – to the raw emotional lead vocals of Marvin McMahon guide the listener through an adventure only they could create and control.
Another emotional song, a more personal hard-hitter of a track, is ‘Take My Hand’. A song that takes on the themes of needing freedom and a drive to survive in the world, it stays along the heavier side of what the album can broadcast. Another track that shows McMahon’s ability to fit his vocals into different sounds and varying speeds and tempos, it gives a mid-album demonstration of the talent this quartet contain and can express together when working together.
This unity can be felt and heard all the way through the album’s duration, and then there is another change of pace when it comes to the album’s closing track, the ever so gentle ‘The Fall.’ Reminding the listener of the long-ago introductory ‘Brighton’, ‘The Fall’ does not take the mood all the way back down to a soft ballad style and instead, takes on a natural fade-away from a rock-fuelled record by taking on a style influenced by popular indie rock acts such as Coldplay and Snow Patrol, and the similarities are striking enough to be heard and noticed.
“They have a steady stance on their sound and are committed to the idea of what music they want to put out to the masses…”
Let a quieter sound never fool, as it does not mean the band have diminished the strength each beat contains. Trying to mix a range such as what they have in one record can be near disastrous; inconsistency and confusion can be the result and that can turn fans and new listeners away easily. Never doubt the intelligence of a music lover. But River Becomes Ocean have performed this in a way that it works with what they are aiming to put across; it is a sense that this is their intention and they worked it very well.
If they open 2019 with such a show-stopping record as they have with ‘A Motion Paralysed’, then the rock world should be watching to see how they intend to close the year as times passes.