Cold Body Radiation - _A Clear Path_
(Dusktone, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (6.5 out of 10)
Cold Body Radiation is a Dutch one-man operation playing an extremely atmospheric form of vintage ethereal rock / shoegaze. On _A Clear Path_, the musician behind the moniker has distanced his music further away from what dubious and loose connection to black metal his sound might have had on the band's debut, _The Great White Emptiness_. This album, however, can no longer be considered even as post-black metal, or metal at all. Not that there's anything wrong with not being recognized as a metal band anymore. Look for instance at Cold Body Radiation's country-mates Hypomanie and how they elegantly shook off all connections to metal in their last couple of albums, delivering a top-notch brand of shoegaze rock that kicked ass. Still does. It was powerful and engaging and full of life and color, whereas _A Clear Path_ is somewhat weary and lethargic.

In comparison to Hypomanie's music, or even to Cold Body Radiation's debut, _A Clear Path_ is all blissful mellowness that could be a bit too sweet-tasting for the harsher palate; too dreamy maybe, for those who look for music that will kick their asses a bit.

Nonetheless, the music on Cold Body Radiation's third studio recording is not without appeal, as it showcases shoegaze's classic elements. Even though the album doesn't revisit the sound and revolutionize it in any way, the mild melancholy coupled with utterly beautiful post-rock elements, all wrapped by a super-atmospheric juggernaut that paints everything with somewhat brooding, retrospective colors -- makes a pretty fascinating outcome. The music is half-muffled, most of the elements are accompanied by a gritty background guitar distortion, that even though it is flimsy and delicate, serves the music well in its quasi-metallic essence as a backdrop to the gentler elements, such as the keyboards and a distant, basic and sporadic drum work. Add to that a very gentle vocalist with a soft, high-pitched, velvety voice, and there you have it: an emotional journey of the most beautiful and tranquil nature.

It seems like all the instruments, vocalist included, have been buried somewhere the mix, hiding behind some kind of an intangible sonic veil, a technique that allows the music so sound even dreamier and more distant. But the electric guitars are probably the most distant of instruments, and other than enhancing the depth of the music or tainting it with a granular, crude yet extremely thin metal coating, the guitars are hardly ever present as a standalone, indispensable factor in the grand scheme of things. You'll surely hear some tremolo-picked guitar whining, but other than that, the keyboards and drum-set have got a more overpowering, pronounced presence than the guitars have.

The songs are truly engaging in their smooth, insubstantial essence, as well as in their sheer gorgeousness, but the music, in the end, aims for a broader audience by creating very ear-friendly melodies throughout, that will appeal to many, as they aim, consciously or otherwise, for the lowest common denominator; well, maybe not to the lowest, by pretty much for everyone, metal-fiends and pop music fans alike.

There's a very vintage, '70s feel to the music, especially in the synthesizers department, where more often than not they will remind you of Tangerine Dream's general sound, mixing space music with mystique. What's more, the tunes are rather simpler and more linear than before, but somehow the inner arrangements are quite complex; in other words, each song goes forward from point A to point B in a rather straight line, but the dotes on that line are a bit crazy and chaotic. You're pretty sure where the music is going to take you, but not so sure how exactly you're going to get there. You won't find surprises in the music (other than, perhaps, the band's ability to capture and reproduce somewhat of an ancient sound) but there's an interesting duality between the infinitesimally small and many details of which each song is comprised, and the predictable direction of each track.

The reductionist approach to the music is also embodied in the packaging and the artwork that portrays a desolate landscape depicting a series of mountains taken from a photo that had been treated by unreal / surreal colors, and the fact that the simple digipack contains no booklet and therefore no lyrics. And that's a personal mystery, since I have always thought bands such as Cold Body Radiation, who appear and sound intelligent enough to couple their music with worthy texts, would at least posses some passion to disclose and share those lyrics / messages with the audience. After all, this is not some second-tier brutal death metal band whose lyrics you could easily live without, and lose not a single moment of sleep over it.

So, in the end, if you are a strict shoegaze rock fan and must own absolutely everything this genuinely intriguing genre is producing, you will surely want to hear _A Clear Path_ because it's a classic, not so much as in a timeless classic, but rather as the very average, distinctive and definite sound of shoegaze, that is to say somewhat dreamy, somewhat hazy, mildly melancholic, drum and keyboards-oriented music, with a dirty guitar sound buried way back in the mix.

Those who want to learn all about shoegaze in a single crash course, this album is a good place to start, again, because of it being the very median of a whole genre. On the other hand, those who look for the punchier, dirtier, more ballsy type of shoegaze rock that is darker, way more guitar-driven and shows a more pronounced dynamic nature, would be advised to look elsewhere, as most likely they will dismiss _A Clear Path_ as a mere popular culture product.

This album is good music but it is also rather generic (as in 'genre-defining'). Those who wish to experience the dreamy and spacey aspects of that kind of music should refer first to the great fathers of the style, The Angelic Process; a unique band that captured that vintage, inherently sad, post-something sound -- with much more zest and punch than what is being exhibited on _A Clear Path_.


(article published 16/10/2014)

RSS Feed RSS   Facebook Facebook   Twitter Twitter  ::  Mobile : Text  ::  HTML : CSS  ::  Sitemap

All contents copyright 1995-2023 their individual creators.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce without permission.

All opinions expressed in Chronicles of Chaos are opinions held at the time of writing by the individuals expressing them.
They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else, past or present.