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Iglooghost Takes Brave Step Forward With Electronic EPs

John Bricker By

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Iglooghost's companion EPs, Steel Mogu and Clear Tamei, both released on August 8, simultaneously overload the senses with chaos and seamlessly coalesce into one challenging, fulfilling step forward for electronica.

Irish-born Seamus Malliagh has earned his reputation as an untameable creative under the Iglooghost name, pumping out densely produced electronic beats ever since the limited release of his debut mixtape Treetunnels in 2014.

Although his music is unashamedly weird, the way Iglooghost's discography comes together into one canon might be even stranger. Every Iglooghost project acts as a chapter in one long story, centered around the cartoon characters that appear in his album artwork. According to Iglooghost's Bandcamp page, Steel Mogu and Clear Tamei tell the story of gods-in-training who "find themselves wound up in a hyperspeed, cross-temporal battle with a fleet of mysterious, round beings."

In 2017, he released his debut studio album Neō Wax Bloom, a grand collage of energetic electronica blending synthetic noise, natural instruments and sampled vocals into one long stretch of unrelenting, odd music. The sheer scope of Neō Wax Bloom is impressive, but it does not deliver an ebb and flow that makes it feel worthwhile as an unbroken listening experience.

Steel Mogu and Clear Tamei succeed where Iglooghost's debut album faltered, delivering his finely-tuned insanity in two tightly- structured, complimentary packages, each with their own mood and focus. Together, they create one of the finest album experiences of the year.

Steel Mogu

With Steel Mogu, Iglooghost delivers his most foreboding and synthetic music yet. Although some organic instrumentation pops up occasionally, these elements are always covered with textured layers of chilling electronics.

"Black Light Ultra" is built around a spacy synth line that sounds ripped straight from an '80s sci-fi anime, accented by distant bursts of cell phone ringing. This track has genuine bass drops, an oddly conventional compositional choice for Iglooghost, but he makes the track's accessible structure his own with an overwhelming mix of piercing whistles, rattling percussion, undulating sub bass and sampled, high-pitched gibberish. A switch into a high octane trance beat lets "Black Light Ultra" achieve a cathartic finale that Iglooghost's previous work could never have pulled off.

Iglooghost shows off even more of his seemingly endless library of sounds on Steel Mogu's closing track, "Niteracer," with a devastating progression of larger than life build-ups and payoffs. Washed out synths, warped vocals, sub bass, chimes and sirens all lead into savage breakdowns, mixing childish, alien chanting, dizzying percussion and thumping bass. This track's palpable, dark atmosphere and breakneck speed make it a fitting climax.

Steel Mogu is a fantastic project taken on its own, but it works even better when listened to in context.

Clear Tamei

In contrast to Steel Mogu's cold, digital atmosphere, Clear Tamei embodies Iglooghost's orchestral style by showcasing beautiful vocals and natural instruments, given momentum and weight by an electronic backdrop.

On "New Vectors," Iglooghost blends watery chimes, operatic vocals, frenetic strings and warm bass to create a looming sonic tapestry. The chopped vocals and stuttering percussion keep the song's momentum going while strings and vocals soar. The track violently breaks down into rough bass and industrial whines, but this detour only gives weight to the natural instrumentation.

This EP's title track may be the most surreal of them all, where Iglooghost raps a lethargic verse in an alien language over a foreboding mix of tribal drums, light strings and high pitched crooning. From this launching point, "Clear Tamei" contrasts soft breaks for watery piano and subdued vocals with electronic blast beats overflowing with harsh sub bass and frantic synth hits. This track's theatricality perfectly fits into the EP's orchestral tone.

Clear Tamei closes with "Shrine Hacker," a nearly 8 minute song focused on soft mutterings from guest vocalist, Babii. The track's slow, serene progression with layers of sampled vocals, synth tones, distorted flutes and sub bass, leading to an instrumental flute outro and fade out through bitcrushed ambience, make a perfect breath of fresh air after all the chaos and a fitting end for these two masterworks.

Tracks and Personnel

Steel Mogu

Tracks: First Vōids; Steel Mogu; Black Light Ultra; Mei Mode; Niteracer.

Personnel: Seamus Malliagh: production.

Clear Tamei

Tracks: Påleo Mamu; New Vectors; Clear Tamei; Namā; Shrine Hacker (ft. Babii).

Personnel: Seamus Malliagh: production; Babii: vocals; Christy Carey: guitar.


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