Cobalt Road
Eternity EP






Featuring Florida's Vaporwave producer and trained pianist Cobalt Road aka Jared in the Ambient section seems to be a double-edged sword, whether it is for the ubiquitous reason of ridiculing the V-genre or the tendency of belittling the mighty V by calling it a fad. But I can firmly assure critics and naysayers that Jared's latest six-track EP Eternity is as close to the nautical trope of Ambient as it is far away from Mallsoft locales or the world of consumerism. Self-released in October 2015, Eternity is available to purchase and stream at Bandcamp. In lieu of sampled material from somewhere else that is slowed down in order to mask – or ennoble – its origin as efficiently as possible, the featured six-part kaleidoscope is a welcome and refreshing journey into the world of nothingness… filled by means of atomistic macronutrients and cathodic catalysts, for the artist set the following premise: "You fall asleep to the glow of late night television. The distorted sounds of the TV static seep into your dreams and haunt you." Underwater veils float through the ether, blurred hooks and dark pianos become enmeshed before a background of silence whose blackness translates into profound layers. Here, then, is a closer look at every one of the six tracks, their Ambient focus and vapor vestiges.

Welcome to the vault, or how else should the listening subject be greeted in Cobalt Road's deeply cerulean hue powered by elasticized algae and softly simmering benthic veils? More Ambient than Vaporwave, Longing lures the listener into the abyss, an antrum of molybdenized liquids and reverberated magnetotails. Things don't remain this benthic though, as softly acidic and eminently deep piano tones oscillate like portentous footsteps through the enigmatic syncytium. Laid-back hi-hats complete the mellow rhythm, the simmering punctilio of glacial gluons put the finishing touches on the (hol)arctic resonance. Further crossing the threshold into pure ambience is Echoes which is even more aqueous and deeper than Detroit. A beatless – but certainly not motionless – epithelium of rhenium-alloyed bars and gorgeously synthetic glitter lozenges become entangled in a diorama of nothingness which allows the afterglow of the constituents to elaborate the panchromatic shimmer. Lightweight and viscid at once: Cobalt Road paves the route with thermal elements.

The epicenter of the Eternity EP is keener on variety, both in terms of textures and patterns. Jared is a trained pianist after all, and it so happens that the track Lost transcends into a more serious endeavor. While Vaporwave fans certainly prefer washed out Italo pianos, the artist chooses a piano whose realism and gravity are much more staggering. A piano arrangement at its heart, Lost is eventually augmented with clear-cut Hip-Hop beats and the most incisive hi-hat helixes on the whole release. Petrifying thought processes meet comparatively scything counterpoints. Still Awake then unites the beat-accentuated moving pattern with the already well-established ooze of mysterious plasms. The mood is recondite at best and crestfallen at worst, with two particularly enthralling addendum: marimbas and bongos. This leads to a rather viridian, jungular atmosphere, and together with the tawny glow of the subzero cryo melody, a state of uncertainty.

The final portion of the EP is figuratively aquiver with the just mentioned state of uncertainty, even in the most euphonious moment of the setting: Empty Streets. Curiously enough, the dark title of this track is circumvented and mobbed up by the soundscape it is attached to. This is Vaporwave alright. A – potentially extrinsic – mellotron song is slowed down and ennobled with handclap-underlined three-note fermions. The synth washes are faintly industrial, but much more susurrant and surreal in the end, making this the paradisiacal locale of the EP, still nebulous and estranged, but amicable nonetheless. The principal timbre is rescued over to the finale; Endless Sea Of Static absorbs the sound design, but brings the aquatic piano back into the foreground. The tone sequences are held together by an adaxial glissando while micrometric clicks jitter around the softly bubbling pericarp. Wait for the sudden pitch shifts and changes: these make the apotheosis much more aeriform, even playfully clandestine. The track title is yet again neglected: if this beguiling jelly is Cobalt Road's interpretation of static, then it translates into a most blissful and opportune riot.

I have co-featured plenty of Vaporwave albums in the Ambient sections and vice versa, and Cobalt Road's Eternity EP is at home in both genres, proclaiming the V-genre's hunger for introverted scenes of contemplation that became a trend in late 2014 and swapped over 2015 with ease. With the subdued omnipresent chromaticity of New Age firmly in place and the artist's occasional colorful synth eruptions farther away than ever before, this EP is something new altogether. Although one shouldn't overemphasize the implications of what is generally called "new beginnings", "new directions" or "the death of [$genre]," Jared has reached a new step by watering down the beautifully histrionic chintziness of the very genre he is primarily known for, instead gong all-in on the depth of the moment. Consequentially, the material in general and the EP in particular feels much longer than the runtime might led you believe. Those listeners craving for zoetropic synth slides and MIDIlicious brass bursts should head to Cobalt Road's Purgatory (Business Casual, 2015). Likewise, if one would like the aquatic aureoles spiced up with more saturated, fluttering colors should best absorb the artist's self-released Venetian Blinds EP (self-released, 2015). Followers of the Detroit-y side of life – sans beats, mind you – shall investigate though. Eternity is an Ambient EP after all.

Further listening and reading:


Ambient Review 454: Cobalt Road – Eternity EP (2015). Originally published on Oct. 7, 2015 at