Cobalt Road






Now that Vaporwave is dead, every producer tries to fuck with the listener, right? New substyles are invented, genres proclaimed totally worthless and tendencies ostracized in order to maintain — or if things have worsened, maybe regain — the pristine state of one's favorite focal point. The very first sentence is considered wrong even by me: the experimentation with micro niches and timbrical classifications has always been abundantly visible in the circles of Big V, but during the current state of self-reflection, one tends to notice the impact and consequences a bit more clearly than before.


With that being said, enter 経路, a Far Eastern and futuristic yet bosky New Age/Vaporwave polyhedron by Florida-based pianist and producer Cobalt Road aka Jared, released in January 2016 on Vito's DMT[REC] label and available to fetch and stream at the label's Bandcamp page. A limited CD edition is also available from


経路 means route, encompasses five tracks, landmarks or locales and magnanimously connects with forest-oriented Vaporwave that is so often featured here at AmbientExotica, maybe because it is so comparatively easy for Ambient fans to succumb to Vaporwave when the propellant is nature… in lieu of, say, neon miniskirts, pachinko pipe dreams or jazzy elevator themes. The five tracks really form the titular path, with the division into several tracks potentially done for the purpose of being of service to the listener. 


For a New Age album, 経路 is whisper-quiet. But for a Vaporwave album, 経路 embodies, embraces and epitomizes the concept of zen and satori flawlessly and constantly. I still consider Cobalt Road to be a Vaporwave artist, but this album makes me ponder for the first time whether I am attaching this — admittedly dubious but also gravitational label — to his name against all possible odds. As the album progresses, one gets to know the referential points and inclusions very well, what with the temple gongs, wind chimes, sitar sinews, gamelan vestiges and that constant flow of a river. A tremendously soothing and reclusive affair, 経路 has truly deserved an in-depth review and is one of DMT[REC]'s most remarkable inclusions to its roster.


Take the opener 入り口 for instance which is deliciously bewildering on so many levels if the twist of this being a New Age-oid album is not known heretofore. And even once this is known, the surprises aren't spoiled at all, not even in vitro within the track. The runtime may only comprise of three minutes, but these minutes are stretched, with their gluons and quarks turned inside out, caulking the interstices of time. To say it less poetically: 入り口 is a quiet affair. It's resting. It's annihilating vicissitudes qua its passive solitude. A river, chirping birds, elasticized matutinal fog gongs ooze and float, trickle and simmer. It is the literal entrance to bliss, a word not unfamiliar to Cobalt Road fans.


One cannot overestimate both the promise and premise of this opener: it rests in itself, time stands still, only the most cautious progression of hidden digital lanthanum lariats fills the fresh air. The sustain level of each chord — already soothing to begin with — is given time to fade out and away into the lush green environment. It is mixed in such a way that the surroundings don't surround the listening subject as of yet; instead, the unfolding of water, foliage and fauna is watched from afar, even at high volume levels.


It is the task of the subsequent four tracks to rev up the wealth of textures, naturally ever so slowly while still forming a string of events. The following 瞑想 translates into meditation alright, but its inherited state is quite more upfront and immediate, the volume levels increase ever so slowly, with the vitreous drones of an exotic gong oscillating between the viridian greenery. Affirmative of congruency yet prone to enlarge the vantage point, the adjacent 照準 fittingly depicts Jared's aim: uniting New Age with the circumambience of Vaporwave. As such, the centerpiece unravels portentously sunset-colored strings of mysticism with vitreous gong galactosamines.


I therefore hail 照準 as another important track as it is the final balancing act of (not) admitting to an expectation. The mood is nourished slowly but constantly, something is in the air, but it is not presented as a cinematic burst, there's no sudden chainsaw to materialize in an OVERGROWTH-worthy way. The peacefulness remains but its molecules are densely layered. While the whole EP is a spiritual affair when compared to beefier material that is few and far between us, these first three tracks form a particularly strong bond, with a scenery that remains mesmerizingly pristine and only distantly chlorotic.


With the fourth offering 経路, Cobalt Road is back on track, that's what fans may tend to think, for it is here where the fir-green proscenium makes room for a perithecium of keyboard-driven chord progressions. And they are gorgeous! Pluvial and remote, fully soaked in b-minor undercurrents, the sequence of over six minutes features laid-back gourds, porose drums and silvery percussion instruments amidst gunmetal streams of synthetic sybaritism. 出口 then leads the listener to the exit and accompanies the departure with cerulean clay pipes, alkaline-arpeggiated blotches and the sun-lit warmth of harbor steelmill synths.


Eventually — and ultimately — 経路 is the sound-based path through the thicket, the figurative way to soul-cleansing, the fittingly tropical trope that touches New Age, Vaporwave and field recordings alike. It is a concept EP after all, and as every die-hard Prog Rock fan rightfully claims, you shouldn't separate tracks or listen to favorite parts, or else you would destroy the interior meaning otherwise. This also applies to 経路, or to lessen this statement quite a bit: it is Cobalt Road's conceptually most pleasing work where the golden thread is reflected by the album title already, the path leading to a better locale.


Title and artwork, however, are only the carapace of cryptomnesia, referring to a forgotten memory that returns to the listener of the real world without being fully recognized at first. And despite its translucent woods and occasionally open glades, these devices are only depicted on the cover. Deep within Jared's 経路, memories are allowed to unfold, to trickle and diffuse because the shortness sees its counterargument in the languorous, wide-spanning path that seems much longer than the total runtime of the EP might let you believe.


経路 is clearly a Vaporwave album by the look of things, but it is within the soundscapes themselves, the fact that the tracks are fading into each other and the almost audacious peacefulness and tranquility that this carefully designed collage transmutes into a reverse-engineered time-redshifted cornucopia. It is now up to the listener whether to perceive this as Cobalt Road's best or worst offering, more so than ever due to the stylistic shift: moods, aural architecture and natural growth are the actual roots, whereas delightfully chiastic synth conjectures and pulsatile quasi-EDM splinters are annihilated. Maybe the essential aspect of what is so gorgeously right and appallingly wrong about this work can be brought to light through the humble reviewer's classification here at AmbientExotica: 経路 is placed in the Ambient section. For dramatic purposes, the review ends here.


Further listening and reading:

  • You can fetch and stream 経路 at DMT[Rec]’s Bandcamp page.
  • The CD is available at
  • All reviews & writeups about Cobalt Road at AmbientExotica are listed here.
  • Cobalt Road on Twitter: @jaredpianoclark


Ambient Review 462: Cobalt Road – 経路 (2016). Originally published on Jan. 21, 2016 at