Windmills by the Ocean is a collection of songs that have been dusted off after they sat on the shelf for... well, for far too long. Five friends came together in August of 2003 and laid down five tracks of ethereal, drone, post-rock/metal goodness. While the members went on with their main projects, and new ones too, these songs sat and sat and sat on the shelf. That is until the good people at Robotic Empire decided to release them.
When you look at the names of the players of Windmills by the Ocean, it's really not surprising to hear the mostly-instrumental (there are some effect-laden vocals layered throughout the songs) concoction that comprises this recording. They have played in the likes of Isis, Red Sparowes, Anodyne, and 27. That's an impressive pedigree. All that is missing from the best-of-Hydra Head (Boston style) is a member of Cave In or Converge (or the criminally underrated Jesuit). Over the course of these five nameless tracks, all over the six-minute mark, Windmills by the Ocean churn the primordial sea of massive, slow moving, and circulating riffs together with varying speeds of drumming, and a lot, I mean a lot, of guitar effects.
Some of the tracks are more traditional in structure than others. "Untitled 1" could be a b-side to any recent Isis release, specifically Oceanic. "Untitled 2" is semi-upbeat in nature. I know that sounds odd when describing a band of this nature, but the drumwork is very on the move and the riffs are, for lack of a better word, playful. "Untitled 3" distinguishes itself from the rest of the tracks with the incorporation of synths, giving the song a calming retro vibe. On the other hand, "Untitled 4" and Untitled 5," particularly the latter venture away from structure and become much more freeform and along the lines of recent Earth material.
As a whole, Windmills by the Ocean is a little disjointed and lacks a clear flow as an album. But given the fact that these are rough recordings, it is a forgivable offense. This album is a great collection of recordings that I'm glad found their way to the light of day. It makes me wonder what other gems all these talented musicians, and others for that matter, have sitting in recording studios. If this is any indication, it's time for more record labels to follow in Robotic Empire's footsteps and start raiding those studios.
8.0 / 10
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