Review Summary: let's ride
Iglooghost is known for his freneticism, and watching his evolution from imitating Low End Theory to someone not only signed to Brainfeeder but also producing its most successful and influential music has been awe-inspiring. And now, somehow, he's only getting faster. On his fourth EP, and tenth long-form original release, his production still engulfs you. Unlike so many other artists, who often struggle to find any middle ground between the slow arrhythmic atmosphere of vaporwave and similar genres and the rapid-fire breaks of footwork, he has managed to pull from the best of both worlds to make something entirely his own, equally Flying Lotus and Aphex Twin, without really sounding like either one.
This specific release is important because not only does it continue on his past legacy but it improves on it. It's not a radical reinvention like Chinese Nu Yr
, it's a step or two or three forward and out of the comfort zone. This should be appreciated when an artist is inventive enough that they could easily stick with one style for years to come with no questions asked. From the intro, "First Voids," it already sounds deeper and, oddly, wetter than ever before. But it’s just an engine revving up for the next few tracks. "Steel Moju" is a bit slow after that massive build, but certainly showcases the expanded pallet, with squealing horror strings, Sinjin Hawke-esque choral samples and some extremely visceral vocal-fry bass. This track, despite being the weakest of the 5, is really the best showcase for what the EP is all about, peering down every avenue that the rest of the tracks zoom across. These next three songs are fantastic accelerants, all extremely fast-paced and more importantly wildly momentous. These songs are bridging the gap between IDM and EDM, minus all the stupid connotations those terms entail, something that has expanded its potential territory from headphones to the aux cord. Going along further on this path could lead to legitimate dancefloors (and this is one step closer to that highly anticipated Danny Brown collab with the chipmunked "Ain't It Funny" sample in "Black Light Ultra"). The frantic scratch synths of "Mei Mode" sound like a traditional brostep drop in the best way, and it is genuinely difficult to listen to the finale "Niteracer" without feeling as if you are hurtling forward.
For the first time in his career, it sounds like Seamus has finally succeeded at building his own world. This has clearly been a long-term conceptual goal of his, so it is relieving to see it actually happen. Steel Mogu
’s world is fast-paced, urban, dark with flashing lights, and vaguely alien. In embracing this specific path, it does lose some of the emotional resonance gained in Neo Wax Bloom
, but that's to be expected from a briefer, less ambitious EP. In the meantime, it's also lost the meandering that so much of Brainfeeder (and experimental electronic music as a whole) is stuck on, which lets Steel Mogu
shine just because it shows its intentions. Within a glistening exterior, deeply complex textures and attention-grabbing sounds mark,for the first time, a clear structure: a method to the madness. The joy is in the journey, for once, and the next stop is the destination.