22 February 2022 (released)
17 June 2022
Attention spans are at an all-time low. In December 2020, Samsung released a report where scientists concluded that the average attention span is now just eight seconds. That means an artist has a mere eight seconds to captivate the listener enough to not skip the song or the album altogether. No slow measured builds, no ramping up the tension. Hit em fast with the hook or don't bother. This also means songs are becoming shorter than ever, often clocking in under the 3-minute mark. This breeds a certain efficiency but also deprives the listener of the joy of patience for payoff. What began as “Don't bore us, get to the chorus” has become “chorus first, repeat a couple of times and get out”.
Brooklyn-based composer Frank Cogliano's talents have been used to score a wide array of film and TV series. From this background he has developed a keen sense of brevity due to the puzzle-like nature of score composition; the need for many small puzzle pieces to make up the whole. His latest full-length record is composed of 17 vignettes mostly clocking in around two minutes with only the finale stretching into 4-minute territory. With Computers of the World, Cogliano took his main inspiration from his early soundscape creation processes. Culling sounds from largely obsolete technologies (VHS, the analog synth from an old Sony TV etc.), Cogliano retraced his roots while re-contextualizing the sources for today's blink-of-an-eye attention span generation. The artist intentionally kept every song brief both as a cognizance of the current zeitgeist as well as a commentary on it. Cogliano explains: “One last thing about the timing, many people are wondering why I didn't finish the songs, or why I have so many. They are all finished ideas, though many of them are short, because I am also structuring it in a way that reflects the current state of our collective attention span, which is extremely fast and extremely short. I tried to compress as much emotion and musicality in as short a period of time that I could."
The intro's ear-popping choppiness is akin to the flipping of channels or Instagram stories. A direct representation of modern insatiability. A first glimpse at the album's techno-philosophical themes. Cogliano then slips into a place of serene transcendence, a place beyond the cosmopolitan cacophony. A brief minute appreciating the life beyond the city's digital LED drudgery. Immediately, track 2 'Downtown' pulls the listener right back into the fold. A kaleidoscope of revolving door techno chic blended with a video arcade/carnival sensationalism. The voices yammering under the city's neon glow turn into a wash of watercolour harmony.
At the mid-point, 'Pet Ghost' takes the pace way down to a saunter. Synths shimmer and cycle with Jakob's ladder tremolo. To follow, 'Peace 2' is a milky slow jam of 70s smooth funk and r&b. Like The Brothers Johnston, Bloodstone, or The Delphonics. Or translated for Gen Z, like Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak project Silk Sonic. Creamy guitar, glittering arpeggiator, and brassy synths lay down a midnight hour laidback simmer. This track begs for an extended jam but on this collection of abridged scenes, that's not to be. Cogliano keeps you wanting more.
The second half continues delivering momentary glimpses into contemporary living. 'Light' and 'Images' offer nebulous soundscapes that trigger the senses. 'Other Days' and 'Voices' pair tubular ambient keys with the pleasant conversations of a relaxing afternoon, morphed through the veil of memory. 'Spiral' offers a piano concerto played in the marble stairwell of a grand museum and 'Peace 1' concludes the affair by bringing back the chilled-out funk with wah guitar and nimbly meandering bass.
Computers of the World is simultaneously escapist and hyper-real. It provides a transportive series of musical dalliances which reflect the pace, mood, and general sonics of life in the 2020s. Beautifully crafted, effortlessly flowing, and a deeply enjoyable listen.