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    The Magic Treehouse ( 1999 )
    Million Suns / Blossoms Falling / Sur La Plage / Roro Blue / Tears From A Willow / Bees / Sugar Bum / Roll Me In Cotton / Physics Disco / Magic Treehouse / Amazing In Bed / My Baby's Too Tall And Thin / Shorley Wall / Silver Planet

    Following this bands recent demise, their entire catalogue has been made freely downloadable from their web-site, a fine move that will hopefully spread the word about this fine band. I do find this debut LP of theirs to be slightly inconsistent, they do better work after this. Another thing? What was in the merseyside water in the nineties? Why all the attempts to remake 'Magical Mystery Tour'? The Beatles legacy hangs heavy over Ooberman as they go vaguely psych, vaguely twee Sarah Records pop. We like Sarah Records though, they released some fantastic material. Ooberman would have fitted right in. As it is, highlights do litter 'The Magic Treehouse'. 'Shorely Wall' is one of them, acoustic guitar mixed in with nice rolling bass and harmony vocals. Decent lyrics and much emotion. Elsewhere on the LP, they do rock it up as much as Ooberman do rock, mixing in some punkish energy. 'Sugar Bum', the orchestral and striking 'Million Suns' and the power-pop of 'Sur La Plage' all benefit from this energy. 'Blossoms Falling' hit UK number 39, May 1999, about as successful commercially as Ooberman would ever acheive, sadly. It's fine pop music, a hint of summer and the male and female vocals work well together.

    'Roro Blue' demonstrates the level of beauty Ooberman can acheive when at their best. Simple melodies and less noise. Female backing vocals, piano, Beatles/Beach Boys bass-guitar, you know, that 1966/1967 bass guitar? Not much else except the title repeated, yet this song has an effect on a listener. Simplicity is the key, a timeless quality that overcomes the occasional overproduced nature of one or two of the other tracks on the LP. 'Amazing In Bed' is another highlight, a track that again benefits from Ooberman not trying too hard. I don't want to sound like i'm dismissing this band, however. Debut albums aren't always a bands best work. 'The Magic Treehouse' is a very listenable 50 minutes actually with lots of little 1 minute linking tracks, such as the title track, for example, all instrumental and wordless atmosphere.

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    top of page Running Girl ( 2001 )
    Running girl / Flashing light at sunset / We'll know when we get there / Blink of an eye / Here come the ice wolves / Ghosts / The kitchen fire / Follow the sun / Alone at last

    Ooberman had been dropped by their record label, lost their drummer and re-united to record this mini-album since their previous time out in the spotlight. 'Running Girl' is really a mini-album designed to promote their 2nd LP proper, 'Hey Petrunko'. It also however manages to be a strong work in its own right. It creates a weird kind of magical atmosphere, as if placing a fantasy dream world of half-truths and hallucinations over and above your existing world. This much is true right from the psychedelic opener 'Running Girl', now she thinks she's as faint as a ghost and she wonders if she is there..... she's a single face in the crowd and she runs to the sound of her heart.... she doesn't know where that she runs, but she runs. The song switches from quiet to slightly louder than quiet sections thanks to the introduction and then taking away of the rhythm section, leaving the whispered vocals above sound effects. Slightly louder still guitar enters mid-way through as the song seems to progress towards something. We're never told where it was meant to go as it fades out, much like a nocturnal dream of images flashing in and out of your conciousness. It's a song that gets better every time you hear it, much like the album, actually. For instance, the so quiet it's barely there 'Flashing Light At Sunset' almost seems to offer nothing initially beyond whispered vocals you can't quite hear. After three or four listens, sunshine enters across blue and white fields of water. You can feel the sun and see it out of the corner of your eye. The fiddle that mournfully sketches out melodies towards the end of the song takes shape in the form of a fisherman wearing a cap with a fiddle instead of a rod, capturing the melodies. Then silence, as soon as it's begun, it's only a short song.

    Sweetness flows into mournful blinks of eyes and Ice Wolves. The male and female leads combine, softly. Fresh harmonies and interestingly delicate musical changes. Bass just the right volume to lead us to believing in some sort of trek across a snowswept moor. 'Ghosts' opens with piano and ominous bass enough to suggest just with these few notes the nature of the tune. Ooberman write very picturesque songs. 'Running Girl' as an LP does this so much better than their debut ever did. The lyrics are better, the music less obvious are far cleverer melodies. Very simple melodic sketches that suggest the nature of the music at hand, almost folk music at times. The closing 'Alone At Last' is a softly sung, quietly played, almost whispered piano ballad. You instantly get the feeling you should listen to the album again and again to recapture the dreams just flown by. You become a fan and wait urgently for new material. It arrives, but that's another story and shall be told another time.

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    top of page Hey Petrunko ( 2003 )
    Hatch Opens / Bluebell Morning / Running Girl / Dreams In The Air / Where Did I Go Wrong? / Hand That Gets Burnt / SnakeDance / Open The Hatch / Cities That Fall / Abstract Sky / Petrunka's Dream / First Day of the Holidays / Secret World / The Clearing / Summer Nights In June

    ‘Hey Petrunko’ was the 2nd full length LP by Ooberman, an unlucky band all told. Despite The Times newspaper voting 'Shoreley Wall' single of the year and Stephen Street of all people producing 'Hey Petrunko', sales were low and they split up. 'Hey Petrunko' was three years in the making, but did come following a top 40 hit single, 'Blossoms Falling' peaking at number 39. Rate Your Music describes this record as Indie Pop, Britpop, Chamber Pop, Dream Pop and Progressive Pop. That should give you an idea of what this record resembles. I read a review from 'Rate Your Music' and it says this record is quirky and eccentric. I find it neither, I just find it a good record.

    Ooberman split up, reformed and then split up again. That they managed a top 40 single seems miraculous to me as they are not commercial. They are/were an artistic band and feature great female vocals with soft guitar and swoonsome melodies. On UK Amazon this record gets 5/5 all around, without exception. I have a friend who lives in Sweden and he was bowled away by this record. Why it was not a massive seller I have no idea. Well..... perhaps I do, it is too intelligent. Let the magic begin, 'Hatch Opens' a brief interlude before the majestic 'Bluebell Morning' arrives - this is a song that should have been a top twenty hit at least. 'Running Girl' follows and is curious indeed. There are some sound effects on the vocals, we get an acoustic guitar abd then electronic effects. It is sweet is all I can say, sweet indeed. As for 'Dreams In The Air' well wow, so bloody beautiful. You do get good bands from Liverpool. Echo And The Bunnymen. Ooberman. The BEATLES!!

    'Abstract Sky' had lovely Piano, of course 'Running Girl' and 'Bluebell Morning' are glorious and that is about it. Ooberman did release an album after this (which at the time of writing i've not heard) yet remain a cult and underated band.

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    top of page this page last updated 23/08/20

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