Review Summary: Mission Accomplished
For an album so firmly rooted in the sounds of successful club music, Cold Mission is shockingly disconnected from that environment. This has a lot to do with the general makeup of the grime elements at play here. While other 2013 grime releases like Wen's Commotion
or Bloom's Maze Temple
build cocky rhythms out of negative space and the raw edge of machinery clatters, Logos uses the same elements to create a sound experiment that's almost entirely removed from the rhythmic pinnings of his genre contemporaries. There's always a unified thread holding the fabric of Cold Mission
together, but it's one that bears no resemblance to the familiar, which is both the album's charm and the biggest contribution to its alienating nature.
Intro track “Ex 101” is one of the most firm-footed and traditionally structured pieces on the album. It sets the listener up for a listen along the lines of Night Slugs material at its most glamorous, and while the incandescence of Jam City's retro glimmer shows its luminance throughout, the album is generally much more fractured, dissonant, and dark than any immediate comparisons. Misleading as it may be, “Ex 101” helps lessen the blow of the unstable work surrounding it, and the familiar textures provide something solid to hold onto when all other traditional traits are pulled out from underneath. “Surface Area” similarly allows colorful synth flutterings to ease in and out of the otherwise cold aura that pervades it, but the track is rooted around a drumbeat that's so spaced out and empty that there's no clear pacing to hang onto. The synth-work seems to provide the obvious solace from Cold Mission
's heavy silence, but it's the empty space itself and the dark, industrial rumbles that fill it which provide the relenting glue to hold the unstable track together. The album's consistently lonely beats are generally followed by mechanical buzzing, shattering glass, and other unusual pieces of sound that fill out the structure of the music, but rather than creating a messy clutter of sounds, Logos is able to form a unique work that truly thrives off of its unorthodox nature.
It's in the emptiness that Cold Mission
finds its appeal and rhythmic grounding. In such deafening silence, every gun cock, every record spin-down, and every bass rumble makes a much louder sound. Every shimmering reflection and every radiating synth-line shines much brighter in the darkness. It's not a formula that can be applied universally. It only works so well here because of Logos' precision in applying it, and because of the careful selection and manipulation of the sounds used so sparingly here. Take “Swarming” for example, with its omnipresent atmospheric drones and the echoing hammer of its percussion. Its overbearing iciness is only relieved by the glow of the warmer synths that reverberate and bounce off of its spacious soundscape, and with just that one aspect of the track's sound, Logos not only provides a relatable element of warmth to thrive on, but he also creates a very tangible physical element of the environment that these tracks exist within.
Experimental work is to be applauded not only because it always holds a high risk of failure, but also because even with success it can still be off-putting and inaccessible to a large portion of its potential audience. But in the long run, it's only the work that pushes boundaries and provides an alternative approach to a familiar formula that's worth remembering. With Cold Mission
, Logos smashes the familiar formula to a million pieces and carefully rebuilds it from scratch. It remains fractured, broken, and firmly indebted to precise calculation, but it stands alone as a piece of art, which puts it far above that which surrounds it.