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Kokomo - Totem Youth CD (album) cover

TOTEM YOUTH

Kokomo

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.00 | 1 ratings

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TCat
3 stars Kokomo is a post rock/math rock group from Germany that was formed in 2008 and made up of the quartet of Oliver Ludley (guitars, vocals), Rene Schwenk (guitars), Tobias Stieler (bass) and Benjamin Hellig (drums). Their 5th full length studio release entitled "Totem Youth" was released in November of 2019. Since the time of their formation, the band has added a fifth member (in 2016), Ansgar Koenig (keyboards). This album is made up of 6 tracks and has a total run time of almost 49 minutes.

The album starts with the solid, post rock track "Sterben am Fluss" (10:35). This one starts out almost indiscernibly, but the volume quickly escalates and the track becomes a powerful opener, heavy, dark and with a moderate beat. There are only a few instances during its 10 minute length that the heaviness backs off, however, each time, the power does not lag for very long. Even with the heaviness, however, it never reaches "sludge" proportions for metal, but stays within the boundaries of regular post rock. It's still quite interesting, however, and the pounding melodies don't ever become overbearing. It definitely has elements of earlier Mogwai music.

"Hold Me Closer, Unknown Dancer" (7:40) again uses softness to begin the track, but a sudden and abrupt infusion of loudness comes in after a minute has elapsed. Crashing drums and chunky power chords push this one into the sludge metal sound of "Pelican", but the lighter keys keep it from being too noisy. After 3 minutes, there is a quiet, ambient break from this heaviness as the music gets more reflective and meandering with distant sounding guitars echoing along. After a few minutes, the heavy section suddenly comes in again, repeating the same bass and guitar patterns as before, but this time, the speed and tension increase before the climactic ending. "Narcosis" (5:48) layers all of the sounds into a heavy drone that follows a chord progression with pounding drums pushing it along. The drums pause after 2 minutes, but the wall of sound continues until the drums pick up again a minute later. Around 4 minutes, you can hear some yelling vocals buried deep into the mix.

"Golden Guns" (10:16) begins softly and slowly builds as layers are added in. Drums come in after 2 minutes as the music pushes forward, and then at 3 minutes, it all breaks down to a single drone, then suddenly explodes with the band at full volume. After 5 minutes, things quiet down again and become more pensive. Then at 8 minutes, the power returns suddenly. "Melodic Rock Night" (5:21) follows the soft beginning and sudden eruption of heaviness and loudness as before. The drums are very slow and intermittent this time. The wall of noise breaks apart a bit just before the 2 minute mark and the music is allowed to breath with the drums finally finding a steady rhythm that reaches a more moderate speed, and the heavy guitars playing a repeating motif. Vocals come in at 3 minutes, this time they are more up front, but they are still remaining at a shoegaze level, not necessarily buried like previously, but not necessarily emphasized either. There is a good level of emotion in the vocals, however, and this would have been welcomed a little more throughout the tracks on the album, which may have given the album a little more to help it stand out among the many post rock albums and artists that are out there. The last track is "Der Vogelmann" (9:13). Again, you get the pensive beginning and the sudden heavy eruption of long, fortissimo passages. Again, another break in the wall of sound comes around the 6 minute mark, the music becomes more pensive, and then another eruption suddenly comes out of nowhere after a few minutes.

The music is powerful enough and the musicianship and sound are all good, but there really isn't much to make this album standout. Nothing is really unique or groundbreaking, however, lovers of heavier post rock will appreciate it, and regular post rock fans will welcome the dynamics that are used. The main standouts are very underutilized, and that is the seldomly used vocals and keys. These things would have helped give the music more texture and variety. Most of the dynamics in the music are sudden and not gradual, in other words, the payoffs are quick and the album tends to be more on the loud, dark side, with the rhythms staying mostly around the slow to moderately slow tempo. The music also follows the same pattern through out the album; starts soft, suddenly becomes loud and heavy for a few minutes, turns back to a soft, pensive section for a few more minutes, then usually ending with a heavy sound and climactic sound. It's rather predictable, however, it is still good for those that love the usual elements of post rock.

TCat | 3/5 |

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