Drowse
Cold Air


3.6
great

Review

by Tristan Jones STAFF
March 9th, 2018 | 41 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: swathes of loneliness

Cold Air doesn’t quash uncertainty; it surrenders to it, at full blast. Drowse (primarily, Portland musician Kyle Bates) makes mood music, fortifying the ugliest of unsung emotions. He toys with apathy, embarrassment, dreariness, and lethargy, embroidering them in ways that probably shouldn’t be possible. Apparently recorded over the span of months and months in his home, this is house arrest at its most expansive. Look to a song like “Death Thought”, at the album’s midpoint: the slowcore foundation is buried under leaves, antiques, concrete noises, chimes, and gradually climaxes into something hopelessly isolated yet radiant, arms stretched outward. This is the spirit of Galaxie 500, but with less grasp on reality and more optimistic flourish to make up for it. Bates’ skill in ambient textures elevates Cold Air, making it deceptively effective. (The cascading layers of opener “Small Sleep” could almost pass for Love is a Stream-era Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, albeit more ghastly.) There is a lot happening, yet the overall tone doesn’t waver.

It’s impressive how consistent things remain, given the themes of instability. On highlight “Rain Leak”, a rare ‘catchy’ number, Bates mumbles, “Oh let it be known, that I’m afraid […] oh let it be known, that I’m ashamed.” Cold Air is full of naked admissions, where there is little romanticizing and much reluctant bearing-all. The soliloquies, denoted by parenthetical song titles - “(Body)”, “(Bedroom)”, “(Person)” - are almost interview-like, from the perspective of Bates’ mother. They candidly portray events leading up to the singer’s eventual mental breakdown and subsequent antipsychotic drug prescriptions. Acting as little vignettes, they are easily ignored, but have a lingering impact on the album’s tone. Cold Air is granted a biographical element. Lars Gotrich of NPR writes that Cold Air “sounds like an intimate Mount Eerie home recording overdubbed with a worn-out cassette of The Cure's Disintegration.” In aesthetic, sure, but Robert Smith always had the air of someone more aged in mentality, regardless of physical age; by contrast, Kyle Bates is, in his philosophy, a child.

The careful, borderline obsessive details make Cold Air feel understated. The songwriting isn’t showy. In songs like the hazy “Klonopin", Bates and partner Maya Stoner mimic Mat Brooke and Jenn Ghetto of Carissa’s Wierd. Even in “Rain Leak” - probably the liveliest song, with its trumpets, martial snare drum, and some of the more memorable vocals - things feel subdued, even if a thousand things are happening at once. Delirium can occur due to sensory deprivation, but here, the opposite is true. Sonically, the indirectly revealing “Knowing” seems influenced by Have a Nice Life’s “Holy Fucking Shit: 40,000”, minus the philosophical themes of free will. There’s a refrain taken from Claire Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H.: “Go toward the enormous absence that is sleep." Here, Bates relates knowing to shared experience, admitting his own shortcomings in spelling himself out: “You’ll never know me without a seizure at age four […] You’ll never know me if you haven't known the sound of paramedics in the house, carrying your father down.” Bates recounts soul-shaping events that cannot be sufficiently replicated for an audience in prose. Before the final curtain, closer “Shower” blends funeral doom, shoegaze, folk, and electronic tinkering, all the while abandoning the burden of stringent storytelling, relieved.

Fittingly, Bates’ closing words in “Shower” mention ‘human clouds’. The idea is, as we wash ourselves, our essence takes the form of steam and accumulates in the atmosphere. He concludes, of course with uncertainty, “Alive in your memory, living in the air / when you die is it still there¿” Poetic waxing aside, this puts the airiness of the album into perspective. Cold Airs lacks the staying power of many musicians/albums to which Bates seems indebted. That aside, Drowse has a sound that, as far-flung as its parts are, works, and doesn’t hamper the believability of his persona. Cold Air doesn’t lack grounding, even if its ‘cloud’ dissipates after the credits roll. What remains are the anecdotes: the broken nose that may or may not have been deserved, his reaction to his father’s drooping face post-stroke, pieced-together accounts of substance abuse. As a lifting fog seems to accent the land beneath, the album’s hazy, fleeting ambience makes Bates’ existence - ugly, embarrassed / beautiful, ambitious - validated.




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user ratings (33)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
March 9th 2018


6673 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

https://soundcloud.com/flenserrecords/sets/drowse-cold-air

https://drowse.bandcamp.com/album/cold-air

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
March 9th 2018


8777 Comments


This was a pleasant listen. I wish the Flenser would back some more music on their roster

TheWrenKing
March 9th 2018


1696 Comments


excite

hansoloshotfirst
March 9th 2018


1064 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice. album is on my ‘ to-do’ list for the weekend.

Digging: Sepulcher - Panoptic Horror

brainmelter
March 9th 2018


5773 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great write up per usual

Digging: Infernal Coil - Within a World Forgotten

TheBarber
March 9th 2018


3720 Comments


Was really looking forward to this ever since Klonopin so I'm really happy it delivered. Kinda brings me back to an uninsolated outside atelier I used to sleep in some odd years ago. Where on the colder days of the winter I could wake up in the damp foggy mornings with the early dew right on my bed covers. Made me save a shower

Digging: Infant Island - Infant Island

AcmeApathyAmok
March 9th 2018


537 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great write up! I've been a follower of The Flenser for awhile now and I especially hold interest in newer up and coming bands/artists who sign on to the label (i.e. Street Sects, Planning For Burial, etc.). Aside from the label backing it, Cold Air piqued my interest based on the cover art. Like TheBarber, I'm really happy it delivered because it's already up there as one of my favorite releases so far in 2018.

Digging: Thou - Magus

FreddieDelaney31
March 9th 2018


4592 Comments


That Carissa's Wierd comparison earned this an instant checking out from me
Amazing review of course

Digging: Noname - Room 25

Frivolous
March 9th 2018


824 Comments


jammed this once, was really nice

nice review

Digging: Mid-Air Thief - Crumbling

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
March 9th 2018


6673 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

thx bois, I feel like this’ll register with a lot of you

Ryus
March 10th 2018


16485 Comments


oh shi this looks cool

Lucid
March 10th 2018


9987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty good album with a great handle on atmosphere. Doesn't rise to the heights of its forbearers due to indistinct songwriting, all the tracks tend to smudge together. Still a worthwhile release, 3.5

Eons
March 10th 2018


1783 Comments


How does this compare to Slowdive's best work, or Godspeed You! Black Emperor's best work?

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2018


6673 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

not comparable imo. it has ‘enemies list bedroom recording’ all over it



@lucid - for sure. he’s def found a good sound but needs to hone more impactful songs

Eons
March 10th 2018


1783 Comments


what the hell does that mean

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2018


6673 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

it sounds like something on the Enemies List roster. I wouldn’t put it in the same category as GY!BE or Slowdive. idk, listen to the embedded song



do you want me to say it's better than Souvlaki and Lift Yr.? idk exactly what to tell you lol

BallsToTheWall
March 12th 2018


48819 Comments


Still waiting for a funeral doom/stoner/sludge band called Drowzee to put out a record.


Also, good review, this sounds cool.

Digging: Monstrosity - The Passage of Existence

hal1ax
March 12th 2018


11306 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fuck yawww

TwigTW
March 13th 2018


3400 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

“sounds like an intimate Mount Eerie home recording overdubbed with a worn-out cassette of The Cure's Disintegration.”



^I love that!



Digging: Blood Orange - Negro Swan

Darkfloyd1
March 14th 2018


14 Comments


Sounds kind of like Agalloch.



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