Recommended: I Am The Cosmos – Monochrome

It’s been a good year for Dublin outfit I Am The Cosmos. They saw in the new year playing with the mighty Nightflight collective in The Grand Social, and later that month they released their debut album Monochrome on Elastic Witch, and premiering on Noisey. Strong reviews followed, and rightly so. It’s a sterling effort, bolstered by crisp, pristine production and, just as importantly, great songs. Having formed part of the backing band for Solar Bears, not to mention playing some huge live gigs of their own, this weekend they close out the year on stage at The Twisted Pepper, supported by up-and-comers Terriers, who recently featured on XLR8R with their own brand of “afterhours haus”. To that end, we thought it would be as good a time as any to reflect on the highs of Monochrome.

“Lost Rhythm” spells out the themes and ideas to be found throughout the album: a rolling, glitzy jam that sounds like MBV on the dancefloor, it blends searing guitars with an unshakeable beat and heart-rending keys. Then we have those unmistakeable vocals. Ross Turner, for whom Cosmos was originally a solo project before being joined by Cian Murphy, doesn’t really sing like anyone else right now, least of all in electronic music. It’s a curious style, blending the breathiness of shoegaze with the bass dramatics of Nick Cave. Hardly what you’d expect of disco-inflected, 80s jams, but there we have it. “Wide Awake” continues in similar vein, with a pneumatic, almost Talking Heads bassline and bright, dancing synths. “I’m wide awake, when I’m awake I dream” sings Turner, adding to the track’s other-worldliness. Speaking to Dipped In Dollars Turner stated that the title track was where the key elements of the album came together: “The prominent use of the Crumar, the Monochrome theme, that Michael Rother/Eno/Fripp guitar tone we were going for and a emotional dance-ability.” Emotional dance-ability sums it up really, the melancholy tone of the music, Turner’s brooding vocals and yet the unmistakeable shake that grabs the listener.

“Take What You Want” is the most up-tempo track on the album, recalling contemporaries Cut Copy rather than any older influences. Conversely, “Esque”, which features the beautiful falsetto vocals of Cloud Castle Lake’s Daniel McAuley, pitches folky harmonies against sinister synth blasts, in an almost ambient style, before bringing in a highly-unexpected kick for the track’s closing minutes. It’s a step outside the larger frame of the album, but it hints at even further talents, and offers the listener a stark contrast to the often-sinister bass that prevails. “Leaving/The Shift” closes the affair, opening with gorgeous, shifting ambience, before drifting into a space jam that’s as likely to have you flipping the record and starting over as it will send you in search of the nearest dancefloor. Quite the achievement. Grab the chance to hear it in a live setting, that’s what we say.

Stream: I Am The Cosmos – Monochrome (Elastic Witch)

Bodytonic Music presents I Am The Cosmos (Live) with support from Terriers (Live), at The Twisted Pepper on December 21. Doors 8pm, tickets €10/€8.

Aidan Hanratty

Dublin ...