As the genre of rock has grown and matured, it’s lost a lot of that brazen, in-your-face attitude that helped make it something free and fun. Zero Frequency, however, stands as a bold testament to the tried and true adage of sex, drugs, & rock’n’roll. They’re an act that lives and breathes this simple yet powerful ideology, and it permeates every aspect of their art, making for a raw and visceral experience.
Their latest record, and the first part of their epic trilogy of concept albums, The Ocean’s End (Vol. 1) is a surreal exploration of euphoria, wanderlust, and carnal desires that must be felt firsthand to truly understand.
Zero Frequency manages to straggle the line between a gritty lo-fi sound and a full-blown studio production, in such a mesmerizingly unique way that hasn’t been done since The Strokes. The cacophony of grungy guitars is somehow beautifully balanced by the often tender and provocative vocals. All of this is held together by an undeniably infectious and criminally underrated rhythm section that begs its audience to let go of their inhibitions to feel the music and just groove.
It’s also worth noting that The Ocean’s End (Vol. 1) is strengthened by the fact that this is only the beginning of this story – Zero Frequency makes sure you are keenly aware of that. Despite the fact that it’s an awe inspiring start to what is sure to be an unforgettable work of art, it’s also an ingenious bit of marketing that is as integral to the feeling of the album as the music itself.
The Ocean’s End (Vol. 1) not only serves as the perfect foundation on which to begin the monumental journey of these albums over the next few months, but it’s also a great place to get acquainted with everything Zero Frequency. The album hits the ground running and doesn’t let up for a single moment throughout its 11 tracks, yet it still has a deliberate pace that allows the listener to appreciate each track for what it is.
The lead-off track, Artemis Descends is as fitting an opener as I’ve ever heard. It cements the idea of this album, and by extension this trilogy of albums, in an incredibly clear and concise way – without ever sounding too obvious. Right off the bat we know that we’re going to experience an album about women, and more specifically – women coming to grips with their own ever-evolving sexuality.
Thus the odyssey begins.
Bondage Swan serves as a complete tonal shift from the first song and is a bluesy, riff-based tune that brings about strong Jack White vibes, while Black Light Stage picks up the pace with an alternative 90’s sounding rhythmic explosion.
Zero Frequency realizes the layered intricacies of the subject matter they are dealing with and it affords them the opportunity to explore a plethora of different genres along the way. One of my favorite tracks, Euphoria, Euphoria, is an LSD-inspired rock song about a sexual re-birthing that manages to encompass all of the feelings of a crazy night out. This leads into the psychedelic/funk track Take it Deeper in an incredibly organic yet unexpected way – almost as if that crazy night out is coming to a grand conclusion.
The rest of the album sees this character pursue their new found freedom in incredibly liberating ways. West Coast Refrain has a sort of anthemic, gospel feel to it that touches on the ideas of travel, while Heavy Steady Grip narrows its focus in a classic rock sounding way to simply have a song about making love. This carefree attitude is not without its consequences, however, as we learn in tracks like Beneath the Sea and Radio Love Rampage.
Zero Frequency is attempting what few other artists have ever attempted, and they aren’t taking any shortcuts. Although The Ocean’s End (Vol. 1) is only the first of 3 albums, it’s exceptional enough to stand firmly on its own as a lo-fi masterpiece. Everything from the narrative, to the music and vocals has been meticulously crafted to enhance the storytelling in an invigoratingly novel way. It’s a triumphant beginning and one that makes me excited for things to come.