Originally released in 1983 as "Light Play". Much of the material on M'ocean originated in Michael's early live performances which took place between 1978 and 1982.
Michael Stearns fans must be in heaven this year, as he has a plethora of both new releases and reissues. M'Ocean was originally released in 1983 on cassette, a year later on CD on the long defunct Sonic Atmospheres label. Now digitally remastered and repackaged, it is thankfully available once again. The music is full of shimmering brightness, balancing low deep drones with elegant metallic highs. It is rich with texture.
I absolutely love the majestic build up on Sirens, which seems to escalate so much at the 2:00 mark that its going to crash, and indeed it does a few seconds later, passing away into oblivion, leaving tinkling bells over quiet electronic atmospheres. The music floats quietly for awhile, but then becomes incredibly intense once again.
'Sirens' is a great balancing act of opposing musical tendencies, with palpable tension between the two. Anyone who thinks electronic music can't be delivered with passion must listen to Marriage Chords, which aches with yearning, and yet guys will think it sounds cool honest! Musical purists may notice that the title track has been shortened by about three minutes from its original version, but I have to say that it doesn't seem to compromise the musical integrity. When Stearns remastered it, he must have edited carefully, because the beginning and ending of M'Ocean remains intact as far as I could tell.
The same is true of Fireflies' Delight, which is only shortened about a minute from the original, and still runs almost ten minutes. The sound and packaging are superior to the original. In fact, Fireflies' Delight is awfully cute and bouncy, so I wouldn't have minded if another minute or two had been lopped off.
Lightplay is as close to Vangelis as Michael Stearns has ever sounded, again very sweeping and majestic. Perfectly titled, the music sparkles, and literally sounds like sunlight dancing off the ocean, viewed from underneath. Like some of the preceding tracks, it also builds to a very intense crescendo.
This makes Vicki's Dance a welcome respite, with its very calming, quieting effect.
Walking Song is actually a classical piece from Igor Stravinsky, nicely updated Stearns' style. Quiet and reflective, it brings M'Ocean to a stop.
For many years, the early recordings of Michael Stearns were very sought after. Now, in a fruitful collaboration with Groove Unlimited, the grand master of ambient and spacemusic offers a renewed 'encounter' with his old days in a remastered form. After Ancient Leaves, Floating Whispers, Lyra and Plunge this is the sixth remaster. The fifth is Morning Jewel.
MOcean was originally released in 1983 on cassette by the Continuum Montage label under the title Light Play and re-released for the first time on CD by the Sonic Atmospheres label a year later. Hearing the first notes of MOcean, you can immediately hear Michael’s massive and distinguished sound with which he received world fame a couple of years later with classics like Planetary Unfolding, Chronos and Encounter. This piece, Sirens, was written and performed entirely on an Oberheim OB8-synth immediately Michael took it out of its box. Dear musician, do you recognize this feeling? M’Ocean can also be regarded a Michael Stearns classic: from the little symphonies Sirens and Lightplay, the intense ambiences of Marriage Chords, the sequencer-driven title track and Fireflies Delight and the pastoral voices in Vickeys Dance to Igor Stravinskys Walking Song. A real warming-up for all the great things to come.
Michael Stearns is one of the biggest names in contemporary electronic music. This early music already shows why.