Coultrain — „Phantasmagoria“ (April 9, 2021)
°≡ Coultrain, i když mu není cizí vytvářet avantgardní styl v přesahu žánry, zde skutečně vytvořil něco zajímavého, opíraje se trochu více o prvky R&B a hip~hopu ve srovnání s předchozími verzemi. Při poslechu tohoto alba se vytváří nepříjemný pocit — hudba je srozumitelná, ale ve skladbách se skrývá něco trochu mimo, jako sebevědomý kousek muzaku ze 70. a 80. let. Toto album by nemělo projít mimo dosah tvého zájmu. Skutečně vytvoří jedinečný a trvalý zážitek z poslechu.
⇑ Coultrain’s Phantasmagoria is firmly embedded in the Soul tradition, built on muted keyboards and overlaid with his assured, smooth voice — but departs with re~worked percussion and fresh, electronic experimentation. The title refers to a sequence of images reminiscent of a dream, and captures the hazy state of mind that drove the process behind this album, as well as its dreamy effect. A.M. Frison, the poet~filmmaker~musician behind the one~man band Coultrain, explores his innermost self through these compositions, drawing from the wide variety of musical influences that have shaped his creative sensibility who he describes as “the illustrious composers of jazz, the soul singers who own ’soul’ in itself, the funk that resonates in dark times.” Phantasmagoria, a masterful interpretation of Frison’s most influential genres and his own introspective reflection, is avant soul at its best. It will be available on vinyl LP, CD and online on April 9, 2021.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Album release: April 9, 2021
Record Label: Positive Elevation / 577 Records
01. St. Solitude 1:33
02. A Very Moment 4:29
03. The Straw Man 2:41
04. The Pact 3:23
05. The Essentials 3:55
06. The Fall 4:02
07. Phantasmagoria 3:47
08. Counterfeit 3:30
09. A Trip To War 3:34
10. A Letter 2:31
11. Famous 3:33
⇑ All words and instruments by A.M. Frison / https://amfrison.com/
⇑ Mixed by A.M. Frison
⇑ Mastered by Jeremy Loucas at Sear Sound, New York City
⇑ Recorded Oct. 31, 2019 at The Gallery by A.M. Frison
⇑ Cover artwork by A.M. Frison
⇑ Graphic design by Mark Smith
⇑ All music by A.M. Frison, SolomonNickelsMusic ASCAP 1639202
⇑ Positive Elevation is part of 577 Records, Brooklyn, New York, https://www.577records.com/positive-elevation
⇑ ©+℗ 2021REVIEW
By Connor Brady ⌊April 9, 2021⌋:
°≡ When Coultrain (the project of A.M. Frison) is brought up, there are many ways he has been described — “alternative R&B,” “left~of~center,” “boundary pushing” and “avant soul,” to name a few. But when looking at the release of Phantasmagoria, it’s safe to describe Coultrain as a true visionary of the limits that genres like soul, jazz and R&B can be pushed to. Coultrain continues the experimentation with each of his releases but this time around has drawn back a bit on the prominent psychedelic~influenced elements featured in his previous album, Jungle Mumbo Jumbo, and seems to be leaning more toward a strictly R&B~influenced sound on Phantasmagoria.
°≡ Disjointed synths and a lowkey bass line perk up at the album’s opening, signaling the beginning of “St. Solitude.” Just as soon as you allow the accompanying vocals to settle with you, the track’s last synth note is already fading out. Immediately following, quiet sets of plucked strings fill the hypnotic wubs of a synth loop as “A Very Moment” builds toward its vocal entrance. With a heavy jazz influence, the beat features disembodied synths and keys backing slightly distorted, R&B~style vocals, a feeling reminiscent of early OFWGKTA tracks. With a drum kick~led beat and dreamy synths, “The Straw Man” has a very uneasy build up, though it starts to mellow as it approaches the halfway point, with bass plucks bridging the gap between the vocal and beat elements.
°≡ Mellow and a bit spacey in its execution, “The Pact” is one of the more “buttoned~up” tracks on the album, as its vocals play so smoothly with the bass and mid percussion. “The Pact” gives this nice break from the more chaotic nature of the album’s opening tracks. Keeping the more mellowed~out vibe, “The Essentials” continues Coultrain’s usage of mellow vocal and percussion delivery, its synths taking more of a leading role compared to the bass~heavy former track. This track also featured the first rap verse on this album, which pairs with the tracks light rapid drum play and simplistic synth looping. “The Fall” opens with disjointed bass and percussion as keys start to sprinkle in. The vocals then enter, using a smooth and soothing effect that starts to melt into the track with the addition of crackly synthesizers.
°≡ Eerie in its atmosphere, Phantasmagoria’s title track is the start of an ominous shift in the tone of the album. The minimalistic use of instruments allows Coultrain’s vocal range to ring a bit further in this one, and the lyrics take center stage. Continuing with the darker atmosphere, “Counterfeit” creeps in with a skittering drum machine beat, dreamy keys and bass that slowly builds into a distant sounding groove track.
°≡ Phantasmagoria’s final leg begins with the heartbeat~thumping bass drum of “A Trip of War.” This track stands out for its chiptuned beeps and boops, paired with smooth vocals that possess an aching sense of longing. Following with a bit more energy is the jangly percussion and crackling vocals of “A Letter” that then burst into a funky drum beat. This move feels a bit all over the place but has a lot of danceability. Closing the album is “Famous,” a haunting track that shines with its use of soft vocals, gentle percussion and a ghostly ensemble of strings that fill the ambience.
°≡ Coultrain, though not a stranger to creating an avant style of genre bending, has really created something interesting here, leaning a bit more heavily on elements of R&B and hip~hop compared to earlier releases. There’s an uneasy feeling that is created when listening to this album — the music is comprehensible, but there is just something slightly off lurking in the tracks, like a self~aware piece of ’70s and ’80s muzak. This album is something that shouldn’t be passed by. It will truly create a unique and lasting listening experience. — Connor Brady