Cold Choir - Velvet Surrender
Cold Choir is a duo who I've only had the pleasure of encountering once before, which was on the Unearth’d HYPERLINK compilation from Broken Sound Tapes. Considering that I hadn’t had the proper time to give each of the thirteen artists a proper introduction then, it’s only fitting that I do one now. May I introduce you to Franky and Mario, the Latin duo who form Cold Choir. Rooting themselves in electro and darkwave, Cold Choir grew up in Miami during the 90s. They experienced a ton of different music during that time period from electro to freestyle, darkwave and techno intertwined. They are not satisfied staying put, either; they’re one of many who believe their music has no rules or boundaries.
As far as their Bandcamp page shows, Cold Choir has been rather busy since 2019. Their debut EP “New Shadows” released on April 9th, 2019. Upon immediate reception from fans and critics alike, comparisons to the like of Boy Harsher, Fee Lion, and Hante were drawn. Since then they have released the singles ‘Neon Kiss’, ‘Phantoms’, ‘Paper Flowers’, and ‘TRNZT’ alongside remixes for both ‘Neon Kiss’ and a companion piece with XOR. The final of the four single ‘TRNZT’ teased their new EP “Velvet Surrender” which just so happens to be the focus of today’s review.
The EP kicks off with ‘TRNZT’, the previously mentioned single. A crunchy electro bass beat dribbles its way into the foreground as a minor oscillation permeates the background. It doesn’t take long for the vocals to hit in; stern, spoken word, but in tune with the beat. The reverb on the voice sometimes fades perfectly into the music. Around the two-minute mark does the beat ramp up and the lo-fi effects that were present during the first third of the track disappear for crisper values. Towards the end of the song, Cold Choir get experimental with their sounds adding in elements of glitch and other shenanigans. The six-minute and fifty-two-second-long song never feels as such as it’s constantly evolving and shifting.
‘Violet Roses’ kicks in as the next song and the combination of a broken sounding horn and darkwave elements is one of the oddest pairings I’ve ever heard in a song. Nonetheless, this sharp contrast works well enough in its own right. Throughout ‘Violet Roses’, I feel as if jarring sound effects combined with darkwave elements is the overall goal or theme of the track. It’s not a typical dancefloor track and kept me guessing as to what was going to happen next every second. ‘Runaway’ is perhaps the first song on the EP that’s fairly straightforward. Taking in the gloomy elements of darkwave and goth music, ‘Runaway’ sounds off as a minimal soundtrack to a neo-noir detective film. The spoken word vocals are traded in for a rather depressive set of vocals that perfectly fit the mood.
The introductory notes on ‘Solo Yo’ made me think it was going to turn into a new beat driven single. While that new beat bassline maintains a strong connection to the album throughout it’s five-minute and fifteen-second duration, there’s so much more to it than that. It turns into a brilliantly melancholic track, with room for techno-like breakdowns such as at the one-minute and forty-second mark. The dual vocals on the song are wonderful as well, with Franky and Mario howling together. It’s a testament to two musicians working with each other’s strengths. The final song on the album, ‘Falling’, has only what can be described as a electronic notes reminiscing a train chugging along. Doom and gloom are the name of the game here, as this can be best be described as an extremely noisy dance track. As experimental as it is, however, I felt as if it wasn’t the best track from the duo. It sounds a bit bland at times and feels like its stuck in an intro to a full song rather than being the middle portions of a track. In comparison to the rest of “Velvet Surrender”, it falls short.
Alas, despite my final complaint about “Velvet Surrender”, it is a rather addictive little EP. At just five tracks, it has managed to suck me in on more than one occasion with me coming back and back for more and more. What Cold Choir has at their disposal is a plethora of genre inspirations that they twist and play around with in their darkwave and electro playground. The result, for the most part, is bewildering and beautiful. Seven-and-a-half out of ten.
This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page.Feb 28 2022
Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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