Originally known as the Ocean Collective, before shortening their name to the Ocean, this forward-thinking ensemble from Berlin, Germany, was founded in early 2000 by guitarist Robin Staps, who soon surrounded himself with fellow guitarist Andreas Hillebrand, bassist Jonathan Heine, drummer Torge Liessmann, percussionist Gerd Kornmann, and a variety of individually specialized vocalists, including Nico Webers, Sean Ingram, Nate Newton, Thomas Hallbom, and Carsten Albrecht. Inspired in part by the progressive explorations of Americans Neurosis, and wishing to compose brutal heavy metal containing lighter, atmospheric elements under strictly orchestrated parameters, the group's demos, EPs, and two albums (2004's Fluxion and 2006's Aeolian -- which were recorded at the same session) have been described as "ambient doom soundtracks." The hard-hitting, prog-tinged Precambrian arrived in 2007. For 2010's Heliocentric and Anthropocentric (released just five months apart), vocalist Loïc Rossetti (who actually sings rather than growls) replaced Albrecht and helped to shift the band's focus toward a more spacious approach with larger textural and dynamic shifts. In April of 2013, the Ocean released their most ambitious undertaking yet in Pelagial. Written to be performed as a single 53-minute conceptual work, its various sections virtually interact with one another. The package contained both vocal and instrumental versions of the album.
The Ocean underwent lineup changes after the album and tour. Drummer Luc Hess was replaced by Paul Seidel, and Australian guitarist Damian Murdoch took over from
Jonathan Nido. They also added cello player Dalai Theofilopoulou and pianist Vincent Membrez. Their first release with the extended roster was Transcendental, a split album with Japan's Mono, issued as a preview to a joint European tour, and to celebrate that theJapanese band had signed to Pelagic. The long player included one extended track from each outfit. "The Quiet Observer," the Ocean's contribution, was based on Gaspard Noe's controversial film Enter the Void. The split was issued at the end of October. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia