Breathing room is a rare commodity on Neō Wax Bloom.
Whodathunk that Brainfeeder, of all labels, would have gone mainstream? The venerable L.A. collective, spearheaded by evil genius Flying Lotus, got Kendrick Lamar to co-sign, George Clinton to release for them and a budding superstar in Thundercat. It’s a long way away from Flying Lotus’ come up as a bong-water rife producer for Adult Swim. But that inner stoner weirdness is still there. And with the growing profile of new signee IGLOOGHOST, Brainfeeder is diving into that portal of internet fed oddness better than ever.
IGLOOGHOST, real name Seamus Malliagh, draws on a surreal batch of influences. Flying Lotus’ early work and the Earthbound indebted “Putty Boy Strut” loom, but U.K. maximalists Rustie and Lone’s colorful fingerprints are found all over his work. But, most importantly, the living organism that is the world wide web and how it interacts with humanity might be Malliagh’s greatest focus. He really has no regard for flow in the traditional sense, with shiny boom-bap beats cuddling up with Chinese flute samples and K-Pop detours. Malliagh is a bigger fan of the rabbit hole fashioning of listening. If it sounds good together, just let it overwhelm you. Neō Wax Bloom is the natural product of that feverish logic. His closest contemporaries might be the PC music guys like Sophie and A.G. Cook, but IGLOO’s music looks inward, not outward. There’s no direct critique on capitalism, instead there’s some hallucinatory adventure going on, where feelings trump plot.
Malliagh did give some background on the “story” of Neō Wax Bloom, but it involved “a multicoloured pom-pom monk” and inter-dimensional beings “nimbly hopping across levitating fruit.” And somehow the music matches that craziness. Layers subtly (and not so subtly) shift at a moment’s notice and some songs seem to completely transform into new compositions in seconds. Early single “White Gum” begins with a clicking beat and ominous piano chords and a light flute line before a chipmunked U.K. rapper rides the evolving sound. Suddenly, a teeth shattering bass line floats in as does a chopped up backbeat. Shimmering keyboard arpeggios fade in and out of ear range and metallic percussion joins. And that’s just the first two minutes! If it seems like I’m just throwing adjectives at the screen, that’s what it all sounds like, in the best way.
Looping back to the Rustie and Lone comparisons, Malliagh might even have those two beat for sheer opulence. Neō Wax Bloom is a rave beamed straight from the Andromeda galaxy. Even in Isaac Asimov’s wildest dreams, machines couldn’t make sounds like this. At times, it leans into complete over stimulation. Breathing room is a rare commodity on Neō Wax Bloom, holding onto a sense of constant forward momentum.
That doesn’t mean Malliagh can’t create moments of stunning beauty. A ghostly choir and thumping toms join IGLOO and fellow electro-scientist Cuushe on “Infinite Mint.” Cuushe’s words are indistinct, lending the song a dreamlike quality. Malliagh came out with a Soundcloud mix recently, documenting his favorite “sleepy time” music, and “Infinite Mint” is a continuation on that theme, proving he’s just as potent on the high tempo madness as he is when creating a slow dance. IGLOO’s buddy and self-proclaimed “pirate rapper” Mr. Yote shows up on the next track “Teal Yomi / Olivine.” Malliagh slyly references Pokémon Gold soundtrack standout “Olivine City,” and Mr. Yote’s pitched down vocals expands on the nutty story, making things even more confusing.
And, honestly, it does all become a bit too much. Neō Wax Bloom can become an utterly exhausting album at points. More of Malliagh’s latent and undervalued talent for lullabies (like on the Bibio-esque guitar breakdown “Bug Thief”) wouldn’t go amiss. But, at its worst, it’s still novel and thrilling. So slip on some headphones, boot up some old Albino Blacksheep cartoons and fall into the rabbit hole.