21 February 2021 (released)
“It's fear of the unknown. The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that-it's all illusion. Unknown is what it is. Accept that it's unknown and it's plain sailing. Everything is unknown-then you're ahead of the game. That's what it is. Right?” -John Lennon
The knock to our collective psyche created by the onslaught of the notorious COV has caused a spike in our fear of the future. Before this all hit, we knew there were no guarantees in life but we never really understood how life could change on such a global scale. Daily updates of new variants and lockdowns have us operating at a heightened level of daily anxiety. We all crave to return to the days of normalcy. Yet we can't let this virus cost us our most vital human trait, the desire to explore. Hopefully, this pandemic has caused us to create new pathways, new habits, and take stock of the real value of the things and people in our daily life.
This is the mantra behind Seattle artist Restless Mosaic's latest record, There's Much Left to Explore. Producer Brandon Isleib takes us on a tour of a wide array of textures and melodies, using electronica and IDM to sow new neural pathways. His sound draws on styles from early '90s progressive house right up to the present, with a nebulous cyber flare. Rules are flouted and the archetypal mould of long build-up to breakdown is rejected in favour of an ever-evolving pastiche where the listener is surprised from one section to the next. The music is an open-ended question asking what lies beyond the next horizon.
The opener 'Swelter' rolls along with a steady minimalist electro beat. Reverbed mallets provide sharp accents to the warbling bass. 'Foggy Drain (Saponified)' has a plunking piano and heavenly synth pads floating atop a rising digital dirge. It eventually opens up to a four on the floor IDM stomp to drive it home. The title track takes sampled instruments and loops them to great effect. A cycling acoustic guitar creates a hypnotic pendulum effect while pads swirl and stew and a mischievous plucky synth dances all over the track like a darting digital finch. Sequenced harmonica joins the fray recalling Underworld's 1994 single 'Dirty Epic'.
Ersatz horns and exotic percussion mix with accordion on the mysterious 'Desert Scorpion' to conjure some kind of robot gypsy. Phasing washes over the track giving it the sheen of artificiality, like pulling back the veil on a simulation. Fascinating textures. 'A Surrender Due in 2007' holds the late album emotional weight. Isleib lets the wistful synth pads set the tone in the intro, with a multitude of digital distractions coming in to overtake the initial serenity. Frenetic arpeggiators manically flail as stadium-sized drums pound out the foundation-rumbling beat. 'The Rock Face of Sholauren' closes the album out on a peaceful meditative note. Airy synths slowly build and coalesce for one final ascension.
There's Much Left to Explore embraces the concept of musical adventure and open creativity. The pieces develop organically ending somewhere completely foreign to where they began. Listening to an album like this is a boon for your neuroplasticity. It opens your mind to new horizons.