ROBERT LOGAN - Cognessence
26 March 2007
Slowfoot Records

At the tender age of 19, Robert Logan has already collaborated with Brian Eno on the music for a feature-length documentary and been invited to lay down beats for club diva Grace Jones’ new album. Two projects that would probably psychologically terrify most musicians, for very different reasons.

Cognessence immediately opens with one of its best tracks, Lost Highway; displaying a maturity far, far beyond Logan’s years, magnificently intertwining dark, cavernous atmospheres with portentous programmed beats, enhanced by demonic female vocal whispers and deranged dubby basslines – it’s a belting debut. 19 years old? Please. The majority of artists working in this sound field never reach this plateaux.

Thankfully, this wonderful beginning does not detract from the rest of the album. Budapest follows, sounding like a combination of influences but no-one you can really pin down as trembling bass shatters lucid hip hop beats and generously conforming melodic pads. Excellent stuff.

Most of the tracks on Cognessence flutter between unnerving soundtrack terrains and a trendy IDM aesthetic. One minute you’re being hung, drawn and quartered by the ominous weaving strings and concealed middle-eastern vocal chants of Cloud of the Unknowing, the next poked and prodded by the IDM playfulness of Error Message, or the wonderful, Pop, which rivals Warp’s current wave of cross-cultural electro protagonists, Jimmy Edgar or Jackson And His Computer Band.

The only discernible influences I can ascertain on this rollercoaster of dark ambient/post-industrialism are perhaps the moody paranoia of Massive Attack or the muddy, mashed up rhythms of Amon Tobin, but Cognessence is so rich and varied in its moods, and so thoughtfully and expertly textured, that the results pretty much transcend the requirement for comparisons – the album sits entirely on a ledge of its own.

I’ve been listening to electronic music for three decades and I count on the fingers of one hand the number of artists under 20 years old who have impressed me so earnestly. If you like your electronica to be murky, sinister, atmospheric, layered, expansive, unpredictable and thoughtful, Cognessence is a no-brainer.

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