19 May 2022
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Comf - EP Review: Water

20 Oct 2021 // A review by Callum Wagstaff

Comf is the solo project of sonic artist and electronic music lover Jazz Kane. With an appreciation and fascination for a diversity of genre, Comf connects their own personal experiences with manipulated samples of anything and everything, to tell a story that is a constant state of re-evaluation.

Water is the first of 3 EP's in the Textures series. The others will be Clay and Ceramic. The series is about exploring a sonic interpretation of certain textures. Comf conceived of this collection of works initially with artist and frequent collaborator Alice West, who documented the process of making a ceramic tile.

Looking at the track list it seems like the piece begins by exploring more literal forms like flow and drop and then expands into more metaphorical interpretations with titles like Side // Let It Go and Do You.

Flow sets the tone with glitchy rhythms of disorienting noise. Delayed slide notes dance around evocative lyrics like "I'm a river running backwards and I've been throwing stones your way." It's a busy fray of stressed out stops and starts manipulating tones that would otherwise sound docile and serene. It feels corrupted and abyssal, using Comf's more saccharine vocal delivery to anchor the turbulent violent panning.

Drop continues the sensation of being off-balance on a back foot. High tension chords and rising stress give the impression of shifting states. The music definitely affects me aurally more like a deluge of rain drops than a backward flowing river, but the limitation of interpreting my experience in the context of water makes me want to view the idea of the textures as a jumping off point towards appreciating the soundscapes on their own terms.

There's a point where the intensity gives way to space, like the eye of a storm or an area of shelter.
Vocal samples wave around the underpinning noise, which is regular and flowing like a breath or ebb of water, but there's always some chaos in floating around the periphery.

Side // Let It Go is the most danceable and approachable track yet, with a neo soul tinge and a steady beat. Comf doesn't wait long to turn that on its side, employing a complex lilt that's hard to nail down. The disquiet that the last tracks built up feel somewhat resolved into a satisfying melancholic groove that's pretty compelling. After the violence of the angles in Flow and Drop, it's a palpable feeling to be cradled by the gentle progressions. Making it clear that this was just a pit stop, Comf abruptly stops.

I Told You So turns the chaos up a gear. It's not as jarring as the choices earlier, but filled with sirens and weird noises more numerous than in earlier tracks. Harsh sounds against a smooth voice continue to carry me through. A cool stuttery bass comes in clear but otherwise there's so many vastly different sounds in concert it's hard to know what to focus on.

The lean changes again subtly and I'm surrounded by baby doll voices panned around train track typewriter machine assembly lines panning around. I can make out a ghostly melody under the surface.

Screaming metal comes in over stuttering and soulful time dilation in Do You. Echoey percussion reads like being trapped in an ice cave with a metal centipede. Comf repeats alienate me. In places reminiscent of Bjork, a female timbre sings a verse saturated in delays, pans, and room space illuminates the headphones. This is the voice of Ilena. Crisp consonant sounds poke through the fog of softened tail signals. The interplay between Comf and Ilena is gripping. Morose yet beautiful and crystalline.

Test // Outro plays like a delirious fever dream.
Like a space ship taking off. Like crystals activating. A bio luminescent forest coming to life.
Red eyes in the dark.
A movie trailer for an alien space ship terraforming a planet. vocals mixed down into the background.
Cathedral reverb and gibberish panned prayer like mutterings.
Then the terraforming comes in again like a reckoning.
Serene notes come through and change the vibe totally. A reprieve. A catharsis?
Like white fading into white. overwhelmed by light.
Then the aliens are back. Glittering signals over the terraforming.

Then back to the prayers.
"I find it easier to obfuscate the truth when I know it's gonna hurt you."
Harp comes in and voice mixes down even further. More reverb and delay that spreads the sound into mist.

The idea of water as it's usually interpreted in music coloured my expectations. I thought I was in for smooth currents and Taoist rhetoric.

But Water is chaotic and busy like rain. It embodies the visual sense of noise, like raindrops in a puddle or chips in paint. I felt an ever-present motif of disruption. Comf's vocals throughout the EP were a comfy couch I was riding through a sea storm on.

Water isn't a passive listen, it requires a bit of mental bandwidth to weather, but it's a super rewarding experience. If you're feeling less up to engaging, I recommend you listen to Side // Let It Go and Do You, the latter of which is the lead single from Water.

I hope those tracks get you curious to experience the whole journey and I fully endorse giving Water an active listen.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Comf

Comf is the solo project of sonic artist and electronic music lover Jazz Kane. With an appreciation and fascination for a diversity of genre, Comf connects their own personal experiences with manipulated samples of anything and everything, to tell a story that is a constant state of re-evaluation.




Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Comf

Releases

Water
Year: 2021
Type: EP
Clay
Year: 2021
Type: EP

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