REVIEW: John Kiernan-Of Oceans

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By Dallas Luckey

Without music, life would be a mistake

There is this unique and elegant quality to instrumental music. The challenge of having to captivate and enthrall an audience without the use of a vocalist or any words at all is not an easy obstacle to overcome. What if you’re trying to accomplish this feat, alone? A record created by one man, John Kiernan, seems to stand strong amidst the vast amount of solo projects coming out these days. I can’t even begin to describe the complex gracefulness that envelops the record, but I suppose that’s what I’m here to do anyway. Of Oceans is a very interesting composition from a very interesting guy. Coming from a background of scoring movies, John is very familiar with the concept of how music can influence emotional responses within a scene. With that knowledge, he created a record that hooks into all the same as a heavy scene from a movie and takes you along for the ride whether you want to or not, which I can sincerely say you’ll want to.

Getting into the record, I’d first like to bring attention to the production quality of it all. This is one guy at home with his guitar and computer, yet it’s on par with any major studio album I can think of. The clarity of the guitar work is so unbelievably sharp it’s almost ridiculous. A lot of guitarists can hide errors in the mud of their distorted tone, yet John found that perfect balance of fat distortion and razor sharp clarity. I can’t commend him enough on that either. I absolutely love when artists take production quality as seriously as they did writing the music for it all. More and more, artists are catching on and I hope the trend continues with brilliant musicians like John leading the way. You could take any song off the record and hold it up as the strongest of them all and the only difference would be personal tastes. It’s almost frustrating having to pick a favorite really. If I had to begrudgingly pick my personal favorite, it would be the sixth track, “Farewell”. This track starts off thick and heavy with a little gritty bass in the background, just the way I love it. This grittiness rolls into an intricate tapping section segued into a wicked solo section. One of the reasons why I think this song stuck out to me so much is the presentation of complexity throughout. “Farewell” is such a diverse song, going from chunky riffs, to these crazy parts with a synth that make you want to dig out the old N64 and destroy everyone on Rainbow Road in Mario Kart; back to the chunkyness, then out into these beautiful harmonized lines that add a touch of power metal into it all.

As a testament to how wide his range really is, John added a cover song at the end just for kicks. “Better Off Alone”, as you all might remember from that brief Eurodance phase you had back in the late ‘90s, was a song originally released by the group Alice Deejay. Revamped and given a whole new life, it returns at the end of the record with some very nice guest vocal work on the part of Skya. In total, guests on this record include: Tre Watson (Carthage), Andreas Erd (Luna Rise), Skya, and Sonia Kiernan (yes, that would be his wife). I don’t care who you are, having your significant other legitimately contribute to your record is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard. I understand some of you might be a bit jealous at this point. To which I say, good, you should be.

On a final serious note, my weird and overly metaphorical explanations can only do so much justice to this record. It is an album that anyone should be able to get into and have a good time with. It is a fantastic record from an amazing musician who has made a very big splash in the solo world. I can say with absolute certainty, keep an eye on this guy. There is much more to come from John Kiernan and you really don’t want to miss it.