Gloria de Oliveira and Dean Hurley
Oceans of Time
It’s Monday September 19 and, while most of the nation mourns a fallen monarch finally laid to rest, I sit and ask myself instead, ‘I wonder what would be born of an ocean foam, the likes of which spawned Aphrodite, if they came into contact with David Lynch whilst being cross pollinated by a Resident Evil OST?’ Nothing less than an ephemeral lullaby on the Oceans of Time. Fortuitously, a phrase not yet copywritten worked well for Gloria de Oliverira and Dean Hurley latest project, only just released.
While Oceans of Time washed over me it stirred, like the tide does the surf, a bunch of strange memories and even weirder thoughts, which came bubbling to the surface. Most of them, let’s face it, were like the trash barfed up along the River Thames that you so often see Mudlarkers fishing about in (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!). One clear impression of the album is it’s synth heavy, and with that notion came along the first time my friend Phil defined a synthesiser. “It’s an electronic instrument that makes sounds not normally found in nature”. Succinct and hard to argue with? Hold my beer. If the sounds were so unnatural, why were they resonating within me with such familiarity?
Like the unholy rays of sun through the tiniest of spaces between the not-so-great thread count of my flat’s blackout curtains, “life, uh, finds a way” – Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park. Threading its way through space-time, dimensions, nature, and the corporeal in true Lynchian fashion, the sounds on this album fuse, integrate and poke their way inside you, pressure testing any notion you may have about what to like and dislike, or even reality as a whole. A bit like string-theory. Probably? Oceans of Time is as out there as it is in there, its own thing whilst being relatable. ‘A Shore of Cosmic Sea’, track three, is the first instance of where Dean and Gloria’s collaborative efforts and strength mesh. From here the stage and tones are set and carry through the rest of the album.
Rarely do we scan the press blurb (propaganda!) after we’ve listened to the album but on a few rare occasions after notes on first impressions are jotted down, we might indulge. This was one of those indulgent times. We couldn’t shake the notion that ‘Picture of a Picture’ resonated deeper than its unhurried urgency; it's adorned with a varied set of strings, the likes of which are found on no other tracks. In one sense, it flowed with an uplifting tempo but, in another vein, a grip of melancholy was sewn throughout it. The junket confirmed my suspicions:
“Gloria, ‘Picture of a Picture’ is a very personal account of finding yourself amidst the shards of a broken relationship and the accompanying fractured sense of identity.” She goes on to say, “l very much relate to Marker’s stance on the personal in art - ‘Contrary to what people say, using the first person in films tends to be a sign of humility: 'All I have to offer is myself’”.
The Marker she refers to is none other than Chris Marker, director of La Jetée. I came across Marker’s dystopian sci-fi work in university and it made a huge impression on me. You might be familiar with an adaptation of it, 12 Monkeys. The former is a mix of multimedia combined in such a manner that at the time was pretty unconventional in linear film making. The latter is Brad Pitt attempting to act. It’s a deeply personal account of an event by which the main protagonist defines themselves. They appear to be in control of their own destiny only to be trapped in a never-ending cycle of futility? Holy smokes, am I projecting? No, no, let’s all get a hold of ourselves and steadily make our ways towards the exit (of this article I hope).
‘Something to Behold’ and ‘Eyes within Eyes’ carry with them Mark’s heartbeat from La Jetée, but ever so slightly and only if you’re listening for that particular heartbeat. Even if you’re not, ‘Something to Behold’ does pulse with a leading beat, taking you down a path. Or up it? With its pauses for reflection, it’s easy to imagine you’ve either lost your breath or stopped long enough to catch it after a moment before setting off again. Themes of La Jetée sprout throughout and once I’d read and heard them, I couldn’t separate them any more than I could un-learn Dean helped compose a bunch of Lynch's sounds. Those were the eerie (and familiar) synthezoid notes propping up the tracks (and popping up in my mind). I guess that makes me biased? Who asked you anyway? So, what if I was? At least I was aware of it and, more importantly, I was connecting the dots inside my own murky and swirling depths. In your face, Freud!
Whilst on the theme of looking within, ‘Eyes Within’, and ‘Something to Behold’ have these Casio keyboard demo beats floating throughout that really complement each other. ‘Eyes Within’ is slicker and heavier but it’s counterpart, ‘Something to Behold’ shines with a shimmer you’ll only get from stripping everything back and focusing on one key element, Gloria’s voice. It’s the first time you hear a minimal wavy electric guitar cleanly plucked in the background disappearing as fast as it’s come. Like a karate-chop. Another set of complementary tracks on theme are ‘Seven Summits’ which leans heavily on absorbing and hypnotic melody while an eerie lullaby sends us off within some lightless realm deep within. ‘Further Than The Stars’ rounds out our voyage and the album. Before the stars fade and the light with them, let’s double back to the most accessible track on the album, ‘All Flowers in Time’. We vote it most likely to get radio play, drawing attention to the rest of the album's charms. This song could’ve easily have been lifted from a set at the Bang Bang Bar but only from season four of TP. Reminiscent of a late Chromatics set (RIP).
Regardless what anyone else thinks about this work, what’s clear is that a tremendous amount of both Gloria’s and Dean’s capable talents, technical prowess, and artistic influences have been poured into this album. It may not be an album for every occasion but it will undoubtedly at some point be the soundtrack of your life.