13 May 2022 (released)
10 June 2022
There are some films or artistically-minded television series which depict the inner workings of the brain as a vivid, three-dimensional living environment. When we dream or are in a form of subconscious state, it's as if we are walking along the neural pathways themselves. Exploring the framework which we have been constructing since birth. The laws of physics as we know them might bend and break but there is always a kernel of reality that remains. The reaction of this remaining sense of self to the absurdity of the dream state can reveal a great many things about the intrinsic person that inhabits your particular meat suit.
Restless Mosaic's music is akin to that vision. A sonic journey that plays as a soundtrack to your subconscious mind, processing the stimuli it's presented with on a daily basis. The project helmed by Seattle producer Brandon Isleib culls from a variety of styles which are sewn together by a keen sense of atmospherics informed by the pantheon of ambient music. His first record There's Much Left to Explore drew from a great palette of tones and textures to create its flowing, mentally engaging sound. On Made By Thawing Ice, Isleib further expands the practice, this time recruiting guest vocalists to add another surreal layer. The album's title is a nod to the MBTI acronym, the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test of which all the contributors are proponents. This record offers a fascinating pastiche of medieval touchstone instruments with airy 80s synths and tasteful modern production.
A thin, bandpassed beat prickles in the background as vocalist Lili Aqvq delivers a poetic amalgamation of spoken word and sung lines in her native Spanish. The Chilean singer's lines ebb and flow like an elvish spell as dark synth pads and an enticingly mysterious accordion intertwine. The opener 'A La Cara Amarilla' lends an esoteric sheen to the proceedings even though the subject matter is simply the vocalist's “love for the Minesweeper happy face”. 'Sandbags on the Flood of My Insecurities' is one of the neuron-firing personifications that defines Isleib's style. An ingenious recreation of the pulse-quickening feeling of anxiety. It starts with a light trickle of errant thoughts, soon overcome by the static of irrational extrapolations. The hammered dulcimer, which is a recurring character on the record, acts as both a relentless driver and a beautiful vessel for melodic depth. As the soundscape fills and darkens, the war drums enter the fold driving the track to its manic conclusion. The score to a genuine, ineffable sensation that happens to everyone at some point and some quite frequently.
'Polliwog 1 & 6 7 8' also employs the hammered dulcimer to great effect. The pairing with a low, spine-massaging arpeggiated synth is an inspired blending of the old and the new in the style of techno greats like Juno Reactor. The calm trance soon rushes to a full-on jungle pace. The ethereal instrumental streak is broken by 'Multicam Behavioral Health', a jolt of hyper-real 70s talk show funk sung over by Australian Dear Kristin. Electric piano chords hang over the metropolitan race of growling synth bass and frenetic drums. Kristin plays the role of an auditioning actor in an allegory for all of our modern lives, not just the showbiz professionals. 'Alone For 10 Minutes' grows from distant church organ ambience to manic modal jazz and back while 'V of Mood' and 'Shadwan' wrap the album with a warm chillwave hug.
Made By Thawing Ice further proves Brandon Isleib aptitude for crafting pieces that passively captivate. It's like he is tapping directly into the subconscious mind. He embraces the possibilities of ambient music while still giving the songs a pulse and rhythm to latch onto.