Review Summary: Partially reminiscent of earlier material and partially abandoning it somewhat as well, Murcof aims to the sky (literally) and produces a fine piece despite getting a bit lost.
For his latest release under the name of Murcof, minimalist electronica artist Fernando Corona returns with Cosmos
. As the third full length offering from the composer (excluding the partial-remix disc Utopia
), it revives some of the strengths in his previous works and uses them as a foundation to build upon. Driving yet modest percussive glitches, the slow breath of atmospheric samples and stirring, somber piano motives are all signatures that find a place here. However, this time around there are a few significant differences that, though they may seem relatively minute, stand out a great deal in some places.
As the album's title and the tracks imply, the intended theme of the record is one that sounds much like being in outer space. Even though there are some instances throughout the record that demonstrate density to a degree not found in previous works, there is also a fair share of passages that seem to float, if you will, through large sections of quiet musical space. However, it is these larger sections that bring attention to what should be the first noticeable difference in this disc. Rather than opting to create a number of shorter tracks (Martes
) or intertwining longer ones with those acting as interludes (Remembranza
) there are only six tracks to this disc, most of which dare to reach ten minutes (and one that easily surpasses).
Initially, the length of the songs is not something that threatens to drag or lull. Shortly into the record the familiar execution of past techniques is put into motion as opening tracks Cuerpo Celeste
("Heavenly Body") and Cielo
("Sky") can grow from a muted buzz to a distinctive rhythm of glitches, pops and the like. It isn't long before solitary piano chimes and spacey string samples arrive and slowly begin to decorate the silence. Corona takes his time in applying all of the layers, but when he does there is a driving force that propels the track forward blissfully without coming off as overbearing.
Though Corona is not a stranger to optimizing the use of near or complete silence, it has in the past always been utilized as a means to heighten anticipation of a recurring motive or swell. During Cosmos
, these moments are instead drawn out, sometimes as very
gradual crescendos or as drones that hover beneath. This may not be evident, however, until after the first two tracks when Cosmos I
enters at a whisper and swells into a slow expanse of sound that grows and retreats accordingly through the minutes.
The chord resonating at the beginning of Cometa
("Comet") instantly draws a likeness to the main motive of Remembranza
without the resolution of suspension. The similarities end there, as Cometa
follows suit by growing in the same nature to its preceding track via arrhythmic space and into a chorus of droning organ swells and white pedal drone. It isn't until the beginning of Cosmos II
where a melody is reintroduced with strings that echo amidst the waning previous drone that at this point has retreated into being nearly inaudible.
Granted, eventually what sounds like live drums thud to the rise of chimes uncharacteristically unique to the rest of the record that sound almost alien, appropriately. Closer Oort
builds on this even further, with strings murmuring and keys twinkling very quietly as a solitary viola(?) responds with chromatic slides, squeals, and fills. Aside from this, a sparsely sounding, but immensely dramatic wall of dissonant noise blares off and on without warning and would undeniably conjure up familiar images for any who have seen "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".
Regardless of the album in question, Corona has thus far demonstrated his expertise in maximizing the use of silence and quiet volumes to achieve and enhance expressive effects. Unfortunately this is what draws out one of, if not the only real mistake here in Cosmos
. Understandably, when considering the intended theme of the record, the strong ambiance of the latter half seems to make a little more sense. Though, at some points it could use a little more activity, especially as Cuerpo Celeste
not only come out much more driven but are both also quite engaging. Still, the stretching of the dynamics in slower sections can eventually become very powerful and perhaps are even further proof of Corona's untapped potential in a relatively newer method.