A horrible hack

Cosmic Thoughts


Year Released: 2014
Format: LP
Label: Hot Salvation
Reviewed by Alex Hannan on Jul 9, 2014
Despite not being a particularly cosmic thinker myself, I was drawn in by the one-two punch that opens the record. "Decayer" is driven by a solid, methodical bassline and on-point drumming, one guitar contributing a lightly distorted jangle and the other a subtly discordant reverbed descant. The song unfolds through varied repetition rather than rigid structuring, relying mainly on a central refrain with a brief change of chord at the top of each wave of motion. The sound is spacious, ebbing and flowing, and nuanced changes in instrumentation are lit up from behind by a keyboard glow.

"No youth" applies a slightly more traditional songwriting tack to similar basic materials, blossoming from a lockstepped chugging krautrock-ish verse into a widescreen melodic chorus which conveys a sense of emotional climax without words. The verse vocals nestle low in the mix, self-effacing, positioned as part of collective action rather than as a focal point - a well-considered move, I think, since individual spotlighting would disrupt the ambience of an open continuum that the listener can drift through. The lyrical content verges on platitude at times, like "You see / you show / You've seen all the things you wanna know / You feel like you want it all" - but it's hard to judge fully without a lyric sheet.

"Ulysses" pulls back to a slower tempo and a sort of singsong abstraction, a single lonely keyboard note hanging in the upper register, a little SPACEMEN 3-ish: and the gentle tremolo and breathy vocals of "Old Scratch" pull the LP back to its sparsest, a palette cleanser before the second half of the album.

The characteristics of their general sound have been a natural meeting point for many a band from different genres who let short riffs stretch out into mantric repetition, allowing simple chord structures, repetitive basslines, and intuitive play with texture to guide their ideas - the point where Krautrock, post-rock, shoegaze, psyche-rock, post-punk are all in waving distance... COSMIC THOUGHTS' clipped precision and terse rhythmic construction also enable a stylistic shift into other territory without being jarring - "Saint Jude" opens with the rather un-cosmic line "You're fucking your way to the top" and has a cosmopolitan swagger, yelp and sneer to it, like a more hard-nosed PARQUET COURTS. I'm actually less keen on this song than the others, as it loses some charm with its spikiness, but it remains a promising avenue for their general sound.

"Test dream" returns to a tight-clipped rhythm section groove, bass maintaining the same pattern almost continuously throughout its 7 minute span. It even gains a TORTOISE-y feel by virtue of clean, abstract organ tones and a double guitar counterpoint. Gauzy chants are the only vocals, and for me it suffers from a lack of the kind of hook or catchy feature they proved so expert at weaving in elsewhere. Final song "Apollo" slows to a methodical loping gait, homing gradually in on a wordless chorus of sizzling distortion.

I can see this all working well live, and look forward to catching them on stage at some point...

Share this: