There’s a point about two minutes into the first track of Logos’ Cold Mission, where you’ll probably think: “What the hell am I listening to?”. By the time you get to the fourth track, the spinback heavy musique concrète that is “Swarming,” you’ll probably still be asking yourself the same question. For those utterly alien 12 minutes, you’ll feel like you’re floating in a sensory deprivation tank, while a combination of the sounds of Bernard Parmegiani, Vangelis and early ‘00s pirate radio broadcasts all bleed in from the outside world. The repeated sound of a cocked pistol, smashed glass and synths that tinkle like wind chimes are some of the alien sounds that drift by during that time, while the kick drums – those precious few that there are – seem there to simply explore what effect their frequency will have on the isolated vacuum of space the producer seems to have created for himself. It’s an even more lonely place than that created in last year’s Kowloon EP for Keysound, which seems practically mainstream by comparison.
Although Logos is ostensibly a grime producer in the vein of contemporaries like Slackk, Visionist, and Filter Dread, you’d barely be able to tell from Cold Mission, which doesn’t throw enough genre signifiers to allow you to get a hold on what’s actually going on until its fifth track. Despite “Seawolf” having those ubiquitous cocked pistol sounds, thundering bass stabs, sleek arpeggio and the kind of billowing square waves that are commonplace in contemporary grime, they’re arranged so completely out of context that it’s like taking a walk through someone’s scattered memories of days gone by. Indeed, this sense of nostalgia is something that the producer has stated is something he was trying to explore in the album’s press release. It’s an approach shared with Lee Gamble’s Diversions 1994-1996 album from last year, particularly on the title track, whose hoover basslines, elegiac strings and cavernously treated vocals and snares are lent an added air of reflective melancholy by the thunderstorm bleeding through from the outside world. But this feels secondary to Cold Mission, which, despite its more experimental tendencies, is an album of music for the body first and foremost.
Despite this, it’s only half way through, on the Dusk & Blackdown collaboration “Alien Shapes” where things even coalesce enough to even let you begin to put Cold Mission in the context of music for the club. An occasional kick drum, bassline and hollow stabs tease some kind of release, while hi-hats build up energy before letting it drift off untethered into a near-silent abyss punctuated by rewinds, disembodied vocals and shimmering pads. After floating through the gaseous swells and serene birdsong of “Stasis Jam”, the more grounded but frustratingly teasing 8 bar of “Menace”, and the tinkling chimes of “Night Flight” (which could easily pass for a lost track from the recent Donato Dozzy Plays Bee Mask album), the album blindsides you with easily one of the year’s most satisfying pieces of jungle revivalism, the Mumdance collaboration “Wut It Do”. Although the least adventurous track stylistically, it provides a logical point of climax, releasing all the almost unbearably pent up energy Logos has spent the entire album building up. Most importantly, it doesn’t feel out of context, allowing a more recognisable hook to anchor the rest of the album’s more abstracted signifiers.
Although comparisons will inevitably be made with Jam City’s Classical Curves album, (the synth line on Logos’ “Ex 101” and Jam City’s “Club Thanz” are particularly close), Cold Mission is, in its own way, even more extraordinary. It doesn’t seem a stretch to suggest it sounds as otherworldly as dubstep probably did when it was first played in darkened rooms over a decade ago. The music on Cold Mission is far from being a completely new genre – it’s decidedly a grime album of a sort, and certainly fits in with that of his contemporaries – but it’s so stripped back to only the barest components that it feels almost necessary to find new language to describe where it fits in the current landscape. In much the same way as dBridge and Instra:mental’s brand of drum & bass came to be described as the ‘Autonomic sound’, there’s something going on in Cold Mission that feels as if could spawn its own microgenre. Given how utterly enthralling and downright rude Cold Mission is, that would be no bad thing.
1. Ex 101
2. Statis Jam
3. Surface Area (Main Mix)
4. Swarming ft. Rabit
6. Alien Shapes ft. Dusk & Blackdown
8. Cold Mission
9. E3 Night Flight
10. Wut It Do ft. Mumdance (Album Mix)
11. Atlanta 96 (Limitless Mix)