REVIEW: NEŌ WAX BLOOM - IGLOOGHOST
Neō Wax Bloom is the long-awaited debut album from evasive, mysterious, and exceptionally young UK producer Iglooghost. His brief absence between 2015 and the present day was especially noticeable after his debut EP Chinese Nü Yr landed with feeling on Brainfeeder. The young upstart had captured the attention of many: he debuted on one of the most prolific electronic labels with an EP about a giant worm who traveled through dimensions via aptly-named "wormholes" (and it sounds just like how it's described). In the two years following his debut it can only be assumed that the youngster has absorbed as many musical oddities as he could manage. His Little Grids EP from last March was only a sign of things to come. The end result is Neō Wax Bloom, a perfect culmination of a wide variety of electronic sounds and trends: a holographic adventure book that's as violently mesmerizing as it is playful and cheery.
Still, I'm trapped in this little grid with them
Pale eyes and some witch told me I can see all this
Go on, go on, get that ten-inch fist
But them witches still screech like they really scared to watch
White peach, hot gum, chalk grid, mint sun
"Teal Yomi / Olivine" & "Göd Grid"
First off, fans of the recent August 13th Rinse FM Iglooghost guest mix will be happy to find plenty to love in the album. The mix itself found the producer catering to a more EDM-focused sound with heavy sub-bass and trap-influenced vocal edits. To go tit for tat with that type of noise, "White Gum" sounds like a classic UK grime track being stretched and slung across a black hole. Very strong breakbeat and IDM influences inform the rapid fire drum patterns and synth layering. That being said, it's important to note how playful and charming the album as a whole comes across to the ear. Despite effects and layering approaching overkill in most scenarios, Iglooghost amazingly balances the chaos with an infectious degree of cuteness and color. I'd even go so far as to say he touts all the charm of PC Music heavyweights like Sophie and A.G. Cook without any of the gimmicky sounds or over-the-top popping and farting.
A prime example of this balancing act in motion can be found in "Super Ink Burst." Here, Iglooghost tames his haunting vocals and electronic effects with a crystal clear saxophone placed plainly in the foreground. The jazz horn bobs and weaves all throughout the regular sonic mess that you'd expect to dominate the track. Everything is tied together with the same breakbeat drums and hyper-chilling melody that we've come to expect from Iglooghost, but the inclusion of this horn suddenly puts him more in line with the likes of Sam Gellaitry or even Flying Lotus (see "Wesley's Theory," etc.).
"Zen Champ" is another highlight. Here Iglooghost balances synths that skip, screech, and sing all at the same time. By any measure, the track is a bass-boosted romp, with thousands of lightning bugs twirling around at every turn. But "Zen Champ" also proves Iglooghost's zany style isn't without structure or form. The final act of the song kicks off with haunting laughter that appears from the ether much like a phantom or ghost. The synthetic crooning then combines with all of the song's previous lead elements to dance over what sounds like a cosmic xylophone at the last bend.
And now it's worth mentioning too that the album as a whole has noticeable structure. With a style as meticulously detailed and busy as this, my primary concern was if Iglooghost's pyrotechnical style would leave me exhausted in a longer album format. Thankfully, this was not the case at all. Much like the Rinse FM mix that came before, Neō Wax Bloom is packed with transitions so seamless that each song passes through the other like the flow of a waterfall: a bubbling, foamy cascade of everything electronic. Best of all, the album's last act is one of the most satisfying endings to a full-length release this entire year. "Peanut Choker"--the album's lead single that was previously the intro to the Little Grids EP--finds itself to be the album's penultimate track. The song itself is noticeably remastered with an extended outro that leads sweetly into "Göd Grid." As a finale, the track succeeds by every measure: it has drama, it draws from familiar sounds that have extended through the length of the album, and it leaves me wanting more.
In earnest, Neō Wax Bloom is unlike anything I've ever heard. It's by far the most inspired and creative electronic release I've encountered in years. Every track is like a snow globe with its own universe inside. Neō Wax Bloom altogether is like a full blown interstellar adventure with cliffhangers, lullabies, twists, and climax--lots and lots of climax. And with the ghost being as young as he is, I don't see any reason not to get excited for more music as mischievously wonderful as this.