Embarking on the journey with Monder are vocalist Theo Bleckmann, bassists Kermit Driscoll and Skuli Sverrisson, and drummer Ted Poor. “Ted is the newest member of the band. I first heard him a few years ago when we performed on a concert together at the Eastman School Of Music. I was struck by how someone so young (I think he was 21 at the time) could have such a mature feel and such effortless command of the instrument. I've played with both Skuli Sverrisson and Kermit Driscoll for years, each in different incarnations of the group. Although very different from one another, they both have strong, personal voices on their instrument, and they fit the respective tunes on which they play perfectly. I was very fortunate they could both participate. I've been collaborating with Theo Bleckmann for over ten years now. He is a tremendous musician and a singer of unlimited scope and ability. He can sing anything I put in front of him, and his timbre is perfectly suited to my music.”
Monder and his cohorts embark on a musical voyage driven by subtle and syncopated winds, steered by telepathic improvisation. The opener, “Still Motion,” is a track featuring the leader’s interlocking and pulsating plectral poetry based on a complex “finger picking pattern” played over static harmony. Monder’s title track draws its inspiration from the sea. “I was thinking of the phenomenon of the ‘oceanic experience’ Monder said. “This is said to be the experience of the infant, who doesn't yet distinguish between his inner and outer world, and therefore perceives no boundary between self and other. Also evoked is an image from a movie I once saw, where a man is being pulled helplessly through the ocean by a whale he has harpooned. I found it a terrifying and lasting image. The music is in almost constant flux and there is often no tonal center, so the effect is to be swept up in something without a feeling of grounding or stability.”
Reviews"As much an experience in hypnotic textures as a voyage through aquatic depths, Ben Monder's Oceana captures an essential mood and holds it for a full seventy minutes. That's no small feat, but the guitarist wisely works with four other talented musicians who ably intuit his vision in order to help make it happen. Monder starts this collection of seven original pieces with the clean solo guitar 'Still Motion,' which sets the pace and the tone for the record. Arpeggiated chords and unison tones hold down a shifting net of sound that floats and sinks, eerily washing over the scene and advancing with a sort of tidal motion toward a brief, stark single-note conclusion. Theo Bleckmann, whose wordless vocal style emphasizes pure melody over flash and bang, provides a brief minute of church-like 'Light' before the rest of the group kicks in on the title track.