Ocali Flash – Blindside

Ocali Flash
Blindside

Ocali Flash are the product of a long distance relationship between two college-age friends. Their end product is surprisingly cohesive, although deserving of better production. Citing The Beach Boys, Bowie, and the Beatles as influences, Ocali Flash does possess similarities that are not as direct as one might expect. Their songs often emphasize the alien and express an inability or an unwillingness to meet up with present reality. This is accomplished by a cold, fairly precise delivery and vocals that are distant in the mix to place a barrier between the listener and their immediate (but never affected or melo-dramatic) emotional content. Even the use of tools that are specifically meant to mimic human qualities (e.g. a wah-wah pedal) are used in a reserved, almost-mechanical manner. Still, because of the vocals (a sandy, naturally gruff tenor), the end product never quite comes across as being the product of zombies or cyborgs. These aspects create an aesthetic that perhaps has more in common with the paranoia, alienation, and doubt of the 80s (with a rejection of artifice bringing to mind the pre-grunge Seattle scene of the late 80s) than with the innocence and exploration associated with the 60s or the reckless sexuality of the 70s.

The buildup that introduces “Blindside” is pieced together in a such a way that it does not accelerate into the first verse with one motion but instead has a false start that has all the romance of premature ejaculation. Once the vocals begin, the drums stop their senseless parade of 16th notes on the hi-hat, and the song seems to settle into a groove that denotes a specific tone of detachment. The chord changes and the vocals/lyrics of the chorus introduce tension indicative of frustration but seem to give in by the time the next verse begins. This unfortunately is thrown off by the use of a Cars-esque synth that (probably unintentionally) introduces irony that seems to again mock the listener for beginning to become invested in the music. After the next chorus, an instrumental bridge appears that almost sounds like the theme to a comical “bad-trip” scene in a stoner movie; but it leads back into a slower ballad-like section with great vocals (including some falsetto obscured by lo-fi production), which almost recalls Temple of the Dog, ending the song.

For generally having such a clear conception of what their songs are about, Ocali Flash still have a large amount of ambiguity in their presentation. That may be in part due to the difficulty of combining disparate recordings from musicians separated by hundreds of miles. Engaging in idle speculation about how the musicians communicate would be unfair; however, the band does leave the impression that despite all their efforts, they do not have real control over their end product.