Review Summary: A cute idea with great results.
The marketing and approach to writing music can be just as immersive and interesting as listening to the music itself. In the case of Iglooghost, he’s clearly an artist who writes music to transcend the conventions of just
listening to an album, adding substance and layers to the outside of his tracks for fans to delve deeper if they wish to do so. His music is ostensibly narrative driven, having whole storylines made up to coincide with his compositions, and it’s a novelty I’m a sucker for. While Clear Tamei
is an EP, it’s one half to a broader picture, and in this review, I’ll talk about both halves of the project to give a more comprehensive impression of the release. This follow-up venture is a prequel to Iglooghost’s well-regarded debut album, Neō Wax Bloom
, setting up the EPs with this synopsis:
“The double features are set in Mamu, 3000 years prior to the events of ‘Neō Wax Bloom.’ We are introduced to a young, see-through, god in-training named Tamei. Although a gifted, he and his little cohorts resent their fate of becoming Grid Göds - and find themselves wound up in a hyperspeed, cross-temporal battle with a fleet of mysterious, round beings.”
This lays the groundwork for a juxtaposition of EPs – each side offering a different experience that highlights the breadth of Igloo’s abilities as a musician.
As is evident from the cover art for these works, Clear Tamei
has an embrace of light and positivity, while Steel Mogu
represents itself as the darker segment of the tale. When physically listening to them, it’s apparent the artwork represents a yin-yang effect. This is a beautifully vivid chapter, containing lush, grandiose soundscapes and vibrant orchestration instruments intermingled with abrasive electronics. It’s a sound best described as a glitched out Katamari soundtrack with a touch of bipolar. But the overall aesthetic leans towards an organic, rural vibe: the tweeting birds on the opening to “Påleo Mamu” and the high-pitched electronics that harmonise with the tranquil ambience; the warm cello that creates a cathartic dissonance to “New Vectors” scratchy electronics; and the sporadic string section and watery effects spread across “Clear Tamei” secure a consistent tone throughout the EP. But the biggest surprise comes from how these organic elements work so well with the brazened sub-bass and its crazy rhythms that stamp all over the delicate ideas based at the core of this thing. Its eccentric demeanour and imaginative songwriting results in a swift, thoroughly entertaining listen from front to back.
The darker side of the coin is Steel Mogu
. Though it keeps one eye on the rural vibe Clear Tamei
sticks with, it’s less of a focal point here, offering a slightly more overt IDM offering with a flurry of abrasive synths, cricket-y trance elements and intense sample work that uses all manner of sounds to daze the listener. It’s more dynamic than Clear Tamei
, with the vegetated vibes being swallowed up by weighty trip-hop and hip-hop influences – hell, there’s even lashings of dub-step found on the likes of “Mei Mode” that ensure you’ll never get bored going through this journey. Steel Mogu
boarders on schizophrenic at times with the likes of “Niteracer” and its fat breakdowns, hyper-tempo rap samples and dense electronic textures, but it's also the more sombre offering of the two; a looming sadness that hangs over the waves of trance and merciless beats with subtle lashings of soft synth swells that scuttle around the back and over songs. I’m not entirely sure which way these EPs were supposed to be heard, but listening to this one last ended with a satisfying resolve to the entire project.
United We’re Strong
As a collective, listening to this thing in its entirety was simply a joy to sit through. A bold idea on Igloo’s part to release a brace of EPs simultaneously, but it was clearly a vision before development than a fleeting afterthought. These things were designed to be listened to separately, but offer an altogether different experience if you hear them back-to-back. Clear Tamei
was a slightly more enjoyable listen for me, but the great thing about this is it caters to a broad audience, with each EP offering a number of styles for fans to enjoy and neither one hindering the other. It’s an all-round excellent offering with several ways in which to enjoy it, welcoming repeated listens as a result.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://iglooghost.bandcamp.com/album/clear-tamei