Made by Thawing Ice by Restless Mosaic

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Technology is for us. We use it to create things that would be otherwise impossible. Or maybe, we can use it to enhance our abilities to create, expand our toolbox and improve our palette of colors. Restless Mosaic perfectly captures the essence of technology on this album. Creating an augmented reality of sorts, where the sounds are so human… but essentially more.

Restless Mosaic is Brandon Isleib, based in Seattle. The album is ‘Made by Thawing Ice’, a follow-up to his acclaimed 2021 release ‘There’s Much Left to Explore’, and if it were to be described with one word, it would be ‘Intelligent’. The album wanders comfortably across genre boundaries while staying strictly within the electronica border. Expertly jumping between fast rhythms and slow ones, dissonance and consonance, harmonic definition, and anharmonic ambiance… with ease and fluidity.

The album kicks off with ‘A la Cara Amarilla’, a spoken word piece featuring Chilean Lili Aqvq’s voice. The music is dark and vast and cinematic and sets the mood for the fantastic value of production that finds its way into every song on the record. Following it is the cheekily named ‘Sandbags on the Flood of my Insecurities’ which is an ambient piece that’s quite restless, easily evading the boredom trap by utilizing fast-moving chord shapes and odd-sounding meters, while toying with dissonance in melodies and harmonies. ‘Polliwog 1 & 6 7 8’ is a very interesting piece full of energetic beats and weird instrument choices. Beautifully produced and smartly frenetic and unpredictable, it easily manages to remain the focus of the attention for its relatively long runtime of more than 6 minutes. ‘Gedenkwald’ needs an orchestra of robots to play it. Lush and visceral in the coldest and most electronic of ways, this two and a half minutes long gem features a long middle section of pads that soar and expand until they take over everything before they dissipate into thin air. ‘Flawed Soteriology’ is the quirkiest piece on the album and might be my choice if I had to pick a favorite. Based on a simple idea of a stark counterpoint between the sweetest twinkling piano and a rough synth bass playing quick syncopated riffs that are distant and yet so closely bound. Jumping also quite nimbly between the major and minor tonalities, it’s a song that is equally delightful harmonically as it is melodically. The second half features a much simpler bass that elevates the song to the tier of Sci-fi Secret Agent music. ‘Multicam Behavioral Health’ is a crazed electronic Samba with dancing grooves on bass and percussion in an odd meter and beautiful vocals by Dear Kristin from Australia. The wordplay is also quite playful. The longest on the album ‘Alone for 10 Minutes’ is, yes, exactly 10 minutes long and features haunting soundscapes and dissonance by the gallons. The second half is occupied by intricate rhythms and features a dense percussion solo that’s beautifully performed and grabbing to the senses. ‘V of Mood’ is full of a sweet tingle of early Prodigy music. Probably the only song on the album to feature a stable rhythm and a discernable chord progression, with luxurious synth strings and pads and a chromatic line that bumblebees its way all over the rest of the instrumentation, it is a very enjoyable and intelligently created peace. ‘Shadwan’, the finale is massive and sweet and the first to feature acoustic instruments (of sorts).

This is an album that doesn’t miss a beat. Grabbing from the first minute to the last, remaining intelligent and engaging without being overly saturated with sounds, ideas, or pretense. A definite recommendation for electronica aficionados, and lovers of creative, intelligent music in general.

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