(Our man BadWolf had a long chat with The Ocean’s main man Robin Staps just prior to the release of Pelagial this year, and we have it for you here.)
Robin Staps comes across nothing like his music. Soft-spoken, and eloquent as he is lithe, Staps appears as some sort of scholarly outdoorsman. Which is true.
However, he’s also the composer/lyricist/lead guitarist and all-around mastermind behind cerebral genre interlocutors The Ocean, and in that capacity he is anything but soft. His early records, the instrumental Fluxion through the sprawling Precambrian, compose some of the strongest post-whatever music put to disc, mixing sludge, hardcore, and progressive metal with orchestral music and jazz. His subject matter—the food chain, the literature of Dostoevsky and the gradual cooling of the prehistoric earth’s crust—is arch as all get out. You could say he innovated the high-concept album. And what albums they are. The last two, conjoined twins, Heliocentric and Anthropocentric, form a literate, scientific, and absolutely burning indictment of Christianity.
“There is no alternative to the theory of evolution.” Staps insists through frontman-as-avatar Loïc Rosetti.
Those albums may present a larger existential threat to organized religion than the entirety of black metal put together. Witchcraft destroys minds, but The Ocean changes them.
Earlier this year, Staps released his followup to the -centric albums, Pelagial, and it’s another doozy—a one-hour trip from the surface of the ocean to its floor. It begins delicate and ends crushing, and along the way dabbles in new territory. Hell, parts of “Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny” sound almost like a down-tuned Queen, but still work in the album’s greater context.
From his music’s time signature to its instrumentation, conceptualization, packaging, and presentation, Staps pushes every aspect of his art to the extreme. He Skyped me just prior to the release of Pelagial to talk about what drives him, the way Pelagial was made, and the source of his inspiration—the ocean. Yeah, the interview took a while to get up. Sorry, Robin.