Neō Wax Bloom

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Neō Wax Bloom
NeoWaxBloomIglooghost.jpg
Studio album by
Released29 September 2017
Recorded2016–March 2017
Genre
Length40:58
LabelBrainfeeder
ProducerIglooghost
Iglooghost chronology
Little Grids
(2016)
Neō Wax Bloom
(2017)
Clear Tamei
(2018)
Singles from Neō Wax Bloom
  1. "Bug Thief"
    Released: 8 August 2017
  2. "White Gum"
    Released: 11 September 2017
  3. "Sōlar Blade"
    Released: 21 September 2017

Neō Wax Bloom is the debut studio album by British electronic musician Iglooghost (Seamus Malliagh), released on 29 September 2017 by the label Brainfeeder. Characterised by complex and energetic song structures, Neō Wax Bloom is a maximalist album which - according to PopMatters - "dismantle[s] any notion of genre before putting the pieces back together in [its] own unique way". The album peaked at number nine on Billboard's American Dance/Electronic Album Sales chart, and its original and creative production and sound also made it a critical success.

Production[edit]

"You gotta be fucking careful because your mental limitations can take you by surprise. I think I was arrogant enough to think I was invincible and could wing it through pushing myself over my limits. I ended up just going super-super-Saiyan and fucking up my health by the end of the record. Trying to be as productive as humanly possible can end up as the most hindering thing ever creatively. I lost a lot of valuable time because I didn't take care of my brain ... and your brain is all ya got, so you need to be kind to it."

– Malliagh on his mental health after making Neō Wax Bloom[6]

Malliagh had wanted to make a full-length album since starting his Iglooghost project, but he said that "there was for sure a point where I realized I needed to sorta train myself and find a reason to justify making one." Getting to the "eureka moment" of making an album involved "years and years of tantrums and smashing up my stuff in fits of rage," according to Malliagh.[6]

Malliagh began work on Neō Wax Bloom in 2016, the first track made for the LP being "Bug Thief", and completed it in March 2017.[7] Malliagh described producing Neō Wax Bloom as "like military camp," having to "discipline the fuck outta myself and override that natural human instinct to cut corners ... and I sorta broke my brain in the process."[6] Using Reason, Malliagh spent at least one month to finish a track and sometimes one day only working on two or three measures of a song.[6] Malliagh went through several "semi-mental breakdowns" putting together the album, having to scrap four songs that were near completion.[8]

Making the album's very-fast-tempo closer "Göd Grid" was particularly painful for Malliagh. Taking three months to work on the song, he originally had eight minutes of content created, but "there were like 64 bars I fucking hated that I ended up chopping off in the end," and the final track that appears on the LP is four minutes long. At one point, the huge size of the project file led to the track being impossible to play through Reason, meaning he had to save his progress after every small edit. Further contributing to his frustration making "Göd Grid" was the song's fast tempo, which meant "the same amount of effort I'd normally put into writing a bar counted for significantly fewer seconds.[6]

Concept[edit]

In a PopMatters interview Malliagh joked that the story of Neō Wax Bloom is based on a real event stating:[6]

It's a long story. In real life, I live in this huge mansion that changes color, glows in the dark, and has a lot of floating parts/rooms. It's a really weird looking place until you get used to it. Anyway, I have this giant garden I hang out in a lot, and I met these strange little beings through a little portal I found. I learnt about the void some of them live in that's called "Mamu", and how a giant calamity involving two huge eyeballs falling from the sky had completely screwed up their ecosystem. I made a big album inspired by all this stuff. So it's not really a concept album, considering it all actually happened I suppose.

Neō Wax Bloom is the story of the creatures, which include a worm named Xiangjiao, a "bug thief" named Uso, a "multicoloured pom-pom monk" named Yomi,[9] and a witch named Lummo,[10] trying to recover from the destruction.[11] Malliagh explained the album deals with "primal religious themes" and a "fucking millennial nihilist thing" that prevented him from having his own spiritual beliefs.[12]

Composition[edit]

Neō Wax Bloom has a maximalist structure.[3] According to Jay Balfour, it has an "unnerving effect" that comes from its "alien" sounds, its "frantically" and "aggressively" fast pace, with sounds "immediately fleeting," and the non-existence of loops and repeated parts.[13] As he wrote, only "a soaring, soulful vocal sample that needles its way throughout several tracks" serves as "a rare bit of human comfort."[13] The sample is Charlotte Day Wilson's vocal performance on a song by Iglooghost released in 2016 titled "Gold Tea,"[13][3] which is processed in different ways in each track.[3] There are also other vocals on Neō Wax Bloom, such as the sample of AJ Tracey's "Naila" on "White Gum," rapper Mr. Yote's verse on "Teal Yomi / Olivine," and Cuushe's singing on the ballad "Infinite Mint", which are pitch-shifted to a higher level.[13]

Malliagh "really hate[d] when albums have like four tracks that essentially say the same thing."[7] With Neō Wax Bloom, he took the "challenge" of making club tracks with as little repetition as possible,[6] wanting the tracks to each have a different mood and "purpose":[7] "I set out to never copy/paste a single bar so all the songs would work as these constantly evolving pieces rather than beats."[6] Mallagh also stated that it was "way harder than it sounded when I realized I had to figure out totally unique substrates for more tracks than I’d ever released."[7]

Neō Wax Bloom is similar to most Brainfeeder records in that it "dismantle[s] any notion of genre before putting the pieces back together in [its] own unique way," stated Paul Carr of PopMatters.[6] As Mallagh described the album's style, "it's a big ass amalgamation of the random stuff I listen to in a way. I’d be going to sleep to Balinese music, waking up to Steve Reich or some shit and then going running to loud ass footwork and bass music and old IDM. I think my brain just chewed it all up and spat it out."[7] Mallagh always felt "too exhausted" after working for a very long time on a track, so he couldn't handle listening to new electronic dance music.[6] Instead, he'd listen to calmer types of music such as new age, math rock, choral music, traditional world music, and Japanese ambient music from the 1980s, which all served as influences for Mallagh making Neō Wax Bloom.[6] He particularly noticed the use of synthesizers to replicate acoustic instruments in the Japanese records.[6] Mallagh also listened to Baauer's album Aa (2016) as well as the works of Cashmere Cat as references.[7] Other genres the album touches on include trap,[14][15] J-pop,[16] dancehall,[16] dubstep,[15] wonky,[3] hip-hop,[17] future garage,[3] grime,[18][15] and the PC Music-defined style of bubblegum bass.[3]

Release and promotion[edit]

Neō Wax Bloom was promoted by the release of the singles "Bug Thief" (8 August 2017),[16] "White Gum," (11 September),[19] and "Sōlar Blade" (21 September).[20] "Sōlar Blade" also had a 3D music video that was directed by Mushbuh and premiered on 23 September 2017 via Adult Swim.[20] Brainfeeder issued Neō Wax Bloom on 29 September 2017.[16] Vinyl releases of the LP come with a 12-page comic strip as well as stickers of the characters in the album's story.[16] Selling 1,000 copies in its first week of release, Neō Wax Bloom debuted at number nine on Billboard's United States Dance/Electronic Album Sales chart.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.6/10[22]
Metacritic83/100[23]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[14]
Clash8/10[24]
Earbuddy6/10[17]
Exclaim!7/10[25]
Gigsoup86%[18]
Loud and Quiet9/10[5]
Pitchfork7.3/10[13]
PopMatters9/10 stars[3]
Spectrum Culture3.75/5 stars[26]

At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, Neō Wax Bloom received a score of 83, based on 6 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[23]

London in Stereo honored Neō Wax Bloom as "a record of rare originality and dizzying immersion."[8] An AllMusic journalist claimed that "if you're up for a highly creative, exhilarating sugar rush, Neō Wax Bloom will undoubtedly be one of the most joyous surprises of the year."[14] A Noah Harrison, calling Iglooghost "one of today's most inventive producers," labeled the album as "nothing short of sonic onslaught… in the best way possible."[3] Gigsoup praised the LP's "unpredictable, complex and rewarding" production, particularly on the song "Solar Blade," and its originality in terms of sounds and melodies.[18] Brett Peters claimed that with the album, "Malliagh presents himself as a highly capable producer, finding both innovation and a unique lane for his music in one of the most saturated modern genres."[27] Clash magazine stated it "begs for multiple listens and, once you’ve digested every morsel, you’ll be wanting to visit Mamu more often,"[24] and Exclaim! described it as a "fantastical cartoon that's crash-landed in reality, and it begs your attention."[25]

Some critics highlighted how clear and cohesive Mallagh made the LP's otherwise frantic compositions and production.[15][5][25] A Nest HQ reviewer was one of them, claiming, "Iglooghost executes with a technical precision that which would make any music theory nerd foam at the mouth, while still remaining accessible to less pretentious ears moving across a club floor."[15] He favorably labeled Iglooghost as a "fresh voice, challenging our preconceived notions on what constitutes club-ready dance music and exploring the boundaries between the cerebral and the visceral."[15] Loud and Quiet's Stephen Butchard jokingly honored it as "an epic ode to short-attention spans that will make you glad it fried your brain with information and desensitised you to bright lights."[5] He praised the album's "otherworldly quality" and its lack of repetition that gives it a tingly "human element."[5] However, some reviewers felt the album was too tiresome to listen to due to its chaotic and overstuffed structure.[26][17]

Year-end list rankings[edit]

Publication Rank
AllMusic (Electronic)[28] *
Exclaim! (Dance and Electronic)[29] 7
Loud and Quiet[30] 26
Nest HQ[31] 37
Mixmag[32] 37
PopMatters[33] 15
PopMatters (Avant-Garde and Experimental Music)[34] 4
Sputnikmusic[35] 28
"*" indicates an unordered list.

Track listing[edit]

Track lengths derived from Apple Music.[36]

No.TitleLength
1."Pale Eyes"2:24
2."Super Ink Burst"3:27
3."Bug Thief"3:19
4."Sōlar Blade"3:53
5."White Gum"4:10
6."Purity Shards"1:38
7."Zen Champ"3:23
8."Infinite Mint" (featuring Cuushe)5:35
9."Teal Yomi / Olivine" (featuring Mr. Yote)5:14
10."Peanut Choker"3:36
11."Göd Grid"4:19
Total length:40:58

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label
Worldwide[37] 29 September 2017 Brainfeeder

Charts[edit]

Chart (2017) Peak
position
US Dance/Electronic Album Sales (Billboard)[21] 9

References[edit]

  1. ^ Simpson, Paul. "Neō Wax Bloom – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Neō Wax Bloom by Iglooghost". Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Harrison, A Noah (27 September 2017). "Iglooghost: Neō Wax Bloom". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 1 October 2017. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  4. ^ George Pheby (3 October 2017). "'Neō Wax Bloom' by Iglooghost – Review". Diamond in the Groove. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Butchard, Stephen (28 September 2017). "IGLOOGHOST – Neo Wax Bloom". Loud and Quiet. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Carr, Paul (7 September 2017). "Zen Champ: An Interview with Iglooghost". PopMatters. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Schube, Will (28 September 2017). "“Weird Electronic Music is Like an Arms Race”: An Interview with Iglooghost". Passion of the Weiss. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  8. ^ a b Wakefield, Lee (20 September 2017). "Iglooghost // Interview". London in Stereo. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  9. ^ Godfree, Cosmo (26 September 2017). "Two Dimensions: Lummo Talks Iglooghost, Portals, Ancient Speels & More". The Ransom Note. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  10. ^ Rancic, Michael (25 September 2017). "Iglooghost's Strobed-Out 'Sōlar Blade' Video". Uproxx. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  11. ^ Nicolov, Alice (28 September 2017). "An All Caps Interview with Iglooghost". Radar Radio. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  12. ^ Joyce, Colin (21 September 2017). "Life Is Boring as Shit, But Iglooghost's Music Can Help You Escape". Noisey. Vice Media. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e Balfour, Jay (4 October 2017). "Iglooghost: Neō Wax Bloom". Pitchfork. Conde Nast. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  14. ^ a b c Simpson, Paul. "Neō Wax Bloom – Iglooghost". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  15. ^ a b c d e f Moen, Matthew (October 2017). "Album Review: Iglooghost Crafts Cartoonish Chaos on ‘Neo Wax Bloom’". Nest HQ. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d e Pearl, Max (8 August 2017). "Brainfeeder announces Iglooghost's debut album, Neo Wax Bloom". Resident Advisor. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  17. ^ a b c NK (4 October 2017). "Iglooghost – Neō Wax Bloom". Earbuddy. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  18. ^ a b c Murphy, Liam (26 September 2017). "Iglooghost ‘Neo Wax Bloom’". Gigsoup. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  19. ^ Cush, Andy (11 September 2017). "Iglooghost – “White Gum”". Spin. SpinMedia. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  20. ^ a b Andrew G (21 September 2017). "Iglooghost, “Sōlar Blade”". Impose. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  21. ^ a b Murray, Gordon (12 October 2017). "Billboard Dance Chart Upstarts: Petit Biscuit, Crankdat & Iglooghost". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  22. ^ "Neo Wax Bloom by Iglooghost". AnyDecentMusic? Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  23. ^ a b "Neō Wax Bloom by Iglooghost". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  24. ^ a b Egan, Liam (20 October 2017). "Iglooghost – Neō Wax Bloom". Clash. Music Republic Ltd. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  25. ^ a b c Hampson, Ashley (27 September 2017). "Iglooghost Neō Wax Bloom". Exclaim!. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  26. ^ a b Stevens, Nathan (2 October 2017). "IGLOOGHOST: Neō Wax Bloom". Spectrum Culture. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  27. ^ Peters, Brett (19 October 2017). "Iglooghost – Neō Wax Bloom Review". Medium. A Medium Corporation. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  28. ^ "Favorite Electronic Albums". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  29. ^ "Exclaim!'s Top 10 Dance and Electronic Albums Best of 2017". Exclaim!. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  30. ^ "The Loud And Quiet top 40 albums of 2017". Loud and Quiet. 8 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  31. ^ NEST HQ's Best of 2017: Originals. NEST HQ. 18 December 2017. Retrieved 06 July 2018.
  32. ^ "The Top 50 Albums of 2017". Mixmag. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  33. ^ "The 60 Best Albums of 2017". PopMatters. 11 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  34. ^ Harrison, A. Noah (20 December 2017). "The Best Avant-Garde and Experimental Music of 2017". PopMatters. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  35. ^ "Staff’s Top 50 Albums of 2017: 30 – 11". Sputnikmusic. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  36. ^ "Neō Wax Bloom by Iglooghost". Apple Music. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  37. ^ "Neō Wax Bloom / Iglooghost / Release". Ninja Tune Official Website. Retrieved 16 November 2017.

External links[edit]