Blue Jelly Island by Bad News from Cosmos

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Bad News from Cosmos | Blue Jelly Island
Shimmering Moods (CD/CS/DL)

This new release on the Dutch label Shimmering Moods is a satisfying melding of post-rock, ambient-pop and dubbed-out kosmiche.  Bad News from Cosmos are a duo whose work encompasses rhythm and fluid textures, put through plenty of analogue processing.  The tracks here all have a strong sense of motion, filled with a motorized pulse that is the central driving force of the album.

Four of the five tracks are titled with symbols that lend an extra air of mystery.  First up is ♒”, which after a few seconds of fading in, really gets galloping with its off-beats and weirdly-tuned melodies that instantly recall Boards of Canada and their favour of warbling synths.  Drenched in wow and flutter, there’s a gorgeous analogue tape-warmth here and in fact the whole album has been recorded to 4-track tape.

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The next enigmatically titled track is “☽” and continues with this propulsive theme, this time the beats more overt and less synth layers on top.  Lots of analogue delay lines filter through the beats, and simple melodic chords repeat into quite hypnotic patterns.  “☾” is perhaps the counterpart, given its similar but opposite symbol, this time the synths are more apparent, shimmering scales creating psychedelic rainbows.  Again repetition rewards with a mesmerizing yet minimal track.

“♍” changes the tone of the set, the beats here are more playful, with squelchy bouncing balls marking out the main rhythms.  This is the simplest track, and clocks in at a mere 3 minutes.  Most of the tracks on the album are short and sweet, the collection as a whole just being shy of 30 minutes, so at times tracks seem like little sketches that have been jammed out by the duo and recorded straight to tape.  This in no way diminishes the album, in fact I think there’s an art form in making ambient music concisely, and these guys do it well.

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The final track dispenses with those symbolic titles and offers the first vocals on the recordings.  “Sharp as the wave” employs straight-up, down-tempo beats with little or no effects processing.  On top of these is a catchy up-and-down melodic sequence that repeats its motif throughout the piece.  Female vocals give the track a mellow, shoe-gaze feel and is the perfect way to cap this selection of lo-fi, dreamy ambient pop.

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