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
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.