Star Ocean – “Sketches”

wavetemple - 森 sketches 森 - coverFormally known as Wave Temple, West Coast shoegazers Star Ocean haven’t been active the past year, which should be a concern. Their only release is last year’s Sketches, a four-track EP of demos posted on their Bandcamp page. The low-key Los Angeles entity have been mum on who they are and their plans for the future (this blog is a fan of mysterious projects). In spite of the group of songs being labeled as “sketches,” definitely feel like fully developed tracks.

“Sink” is an one-minute atmospheric appetizer that radiates a new-day-rising-esque (not Hüsker Dü) vibes, with delicate guitar work swelling over earthly ambiance. “Surface” gets right to it with dueling reverb coated guitars that skip and flourish over robust bass lines, which eventually swell into a dense symphonic closing. The band sounds like they motioned for equal equity in percussions with live drums and a drum machine, with some moments on the album akin to CIVIL CIVIC material. They’ve managed to get the organic and mechanical components to work so seamlessly, sometimes its hard to discern which is which at any given moment on the EP.

Like their nu-gaze contemporaries, DIIV and Surf Rock is Dead, Star Ocean opts for catchy instrumentation with noticeable separation instead of the dense cacophony/wall-of-sound mindset (not that it’s bad or anything). Led by a drone buzzed bass, “Whirlpool” is a swirling cascade of flurried guitars and rigid dance-oriented drumming. The finisher, “Do We Expect Anything To Last,” bewilders with pinging crescendos that echo over loose percussions. Wordless throughout, the tracks feel longer than their actual length (the longest at 3 and a half minutes), almost post-rock like.

Star Ocean has been mum on their future activities, with them being active 17 days ago (as of writing this) on their Soundcloud page, as they’ve re-uploaded tracks. Lamenting at the fact I didn’t catch the EP a year ago, but here’s to hoping for more material soon.