Is not every day that a masterpiece is released. Today is that day. Cosmo Sheldrake debut album is a long-awaited work of art (at least from our part), and one that does not disappoints. Ever. But surprises in every bit, every song, every sound. The Much Much How How and I, incorporates Japanese koto drums, a marching band percussion, a nightingale from Kent and a host of woodwind instruments like a contra bassoon, just to name a few (by the way we couldn’t name any of these by ourselves). Just to tell it right-away, for us this is an album that can be seen as a trip, a voyage, something unique and rare in today’s indie music world.
Cosmo Sheldrake is a sound explorer. Maybe that’s the best way to describe him. And every explorer has to start a journey from somewhere. Linger Longer opens The Much Much How How and I album, in a cinematic manner – one that is maintained through all the 14 songs in fact -. Is as exploratory as an album opener can be. Filled with instrumental layers, reflects the singer Kusturica-like roots, and always sounds like a train adventure through the mountains and deserts. It never repeats a melody or a turn (until the right very end). And ends like it started, as a proper movie/adventure open-credits ending.
Released almost two months ago, Wriggle,was from the first moment, a song impossible to put down. Or to describe in words to be honest. But if we were to try our best doing so, we would say that Wriggle is first of all completely different from what we ever heard before. Starting off with some oriental-like elements, the vocals are quick to come in. And they go perfectly with the odd-enchanting oriental mysterious flow. Wriggle is quite fast reaching its addictive chorus. A chorus that sounds a bit like one of those childhood chants we sing to ourselves everywhere we go. A chorus to sing like crazy, to move our feet to, and to be crazy about. And all those feelings did not took long to grew on us. Semi-electronic, semi-experimental, semi-crazy, total-genius and unique.
Birth a Basket has less impact and sounds like a more passive soundtrack. It maintains the characteristic story-like vocals and orchestral sound, and goes by very easily. That passiveness is once again turned up side down with the following very brief but highly-paced (almost a Capella) Birthday Suit. 1.20 that sounds like a brief-and-a-bit-insane whisper of creativeness.
Come Along is another song with a memorable chorus that is set to stick to your brains. A track based on an instrumental simplicity that never ceases to emanate power (a bit like a mix between Woodkid and Beirut). Once again alternating like crazy in style and cadence throughout its length, the song always finds itself (and its listeners) in the chorus.
Solar Waltz is like the name reveals, a true encounter between an old-style waltz and cultural sounds turn into a modern electronic composition. The greatest thing in this, is the way Cosmo Sheldrake takes its time to let a more sensitive side of his vocals and lyrics reveal themselves. Like a proper sunset in the desert.
At the album mid-way we are revived with Mind Of Rocks re-edition. More atmospheric than the original, contributing to the album general feeling. Works as a proper more electronic crossover in this long play. With water drops in the background, Spring Bottom sounds like a game of sounds (Sheldrake specialty). A second of three brief intercalations that really transports us to a more funny, curious moment in the story the album portrays. It also serves as a build up to Egg and Soldiers a Cosmo’ ballad that uses a trompet-like sound as the main actor in a story that talks about only looking behind and to the short-term and how that can make it difficult to find the right answers in the present.
The 10th track, Axoloti, transports us again to the sea (always present in the album, either in sound, or visuals). Is more rock than any other song in the album without ever dropping some of the other (more traditional) elements – like the watery elements. The vocals are also more reaching than in any other song, and the female back-vocals also gives the track a different touch.
Pilocene turns back to the birds and the balancing electronic samples intercalated with the heavy-synth drums. At this stage of the album we are fully into Cosmo Sheldrake album resolution, and we can truly feel it. In Pilocene we are already the fish in the water, and nothing else seems strange anymore. Just the usual sounds of our ocean. Here we go again, as he sings.
Linger a While seems to be a reference to the first song of the album. A bit of a reprise of that opening. A final space to breathe before the two final songs. Beetroot Kvass and Hocking are two almost contradictory songs. In the first the confrontation happens. There is something wrong that needs to be fixed. The whole track ambiance urges for a resolution. For some reaction. The suspense it transmit almost kills us, and is not a coincidence that for the first there are no vocals. Those vocals return in Hocking for a proper closure. After a minute, Sheldrake vocals get in the more confident ever, accompanied by a background choir and by the heavy drums that we could hear in the back in the previous song. And when we though we had figure everything out, all the other elements of the album also get in to the song. An immense complexity of sounds transmitting an intentional confusion of sounds. One moment they sound as one, the other they sound intentionally collapsing. Breath-taking to say the least. What and ending.