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Stupid Cosmonaut

stupid cosmonaut digitalis album artwork

Digitalis

January 2018 – Drone Rock Records

01. Field Trip
02. Rephlex
03. Offline
04. Post Human
05. Digitalis
06. Sadness and Euphoria

Stupid Cosmonaut‘s blend of electronic ambience and doom metal is an unusual aesthetic. Their embrace of keyboard-heavy instrumentation allows them access to a range of sounds that traditional bands from either genre wouldn’t have access to. Not only is their bizarre take a success, it allows them to experiment with unusual release formats. We’ve already had full-length record and a split this year, and with Digitalis they’ve expanded into a release with an electronic focus.

Sinister, dark and bleak, Stupid Cosmonaut’s electronic influence isn’t that strange a bedfellow with doom; they share a common lineage of darkwave and krautrock. Besides, both are effective at sounding otherworldly or unsettling, and the heavy bass of their electronic influences also shares an aesthetic with the bombast of doom metal.

For a record like this to succeed it’s important that it’s creative with the execution as well as thoughtful about the influence, which is certainly the case here. Digitalis unfolds over six dense, otherworldly tracks, dotted with deep pulses, lush atmospheres and expansive filter sweeps. The overall tone is sinister, threats lurking on the periphery of chilled, washed-out electronic ambience.

The record expands and contracts, allowing more expansive, explorative passages on the longer tracks like “Rephlex” and weird, jarring rhythms on something more concise like opener “Field Trip“. These early themes continue until “Digitalis” emerges as a sinister procession that owes a lot to their work with doom metal. The record concludes with “Sadness and Euphoria“, which builds to a joyous head. The record is busier than its chilled tone would initially suggest, and the darker influences are expertly woven in.

Digitalis exists in the center of a huge Venn diagram, encompassing fans of doom, electronica and synth-driven experimentation. I was pleased to see they’ve gone for less of a 70s mellotron sound and more a polished-chrome krautrock aesthetic, at the same time avoiding the lightly goofy 80s pastiche of synthwave. This is one of the stronger records in their discography, and whilst other records are perhaps a little more nakedly out-there this one sounds fuller and richer.

Stupid Cosmonaut’s take on heavy music is a refreshing re-think of their myriad influences; as a parting note, anyone who’s embraced synthwave but is seeking something darker and more involving would be wise to start here. Doom fans would be unwise to sleep on this, and established fans have the luxury of seeing them exceed at something they’re well-suited to.

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