Pacific Coliseum – Blue Universe (Coastal Haze, 2019)

The expanse and warmness of never-ending sonic summers harnessed by the man Pacific Coliseum.

The nature of softly spoken music allows us to drift as we please, nourished by its careful caress and its warm embrace. Some artists shoot for the stars with this method of musical conjuration, and create places for us to feel relaxed, fulfilled and content. Moving and slowly grooving with all that comes between us and the landscape painted before our eyes and displayed to our ears. Without thinking too hard, we connect to the message, the subtleness soaring forth that binds us to its being and its presence. A narrative to get lost in, and find some form of solace in it all.

Pacific Coliseum has crafted some other worlds through his music. The emotive side carries through enormously, and is a strong thread running throughout his music. Each note carries a weight, a feeling, and each element contributes to a greater sense of ones place in the world. His debut LP, ‘Ocean City’, was one of 2017’s stand out LPs, with its balerique inspired undercurrent, and its spacey J Funk style keys, evoking long nights staring at lights in the distance. Finding a delicate balance between the pulsating nature of tunes, to the slower vibes, the album played out like a narrative, detailing imagined nights out to the Sunday mornings. His 2018 release, under his PC alias, ‘Spirit Feel’, was more of a straight up jazz house affair, conjuring up notions of Moodymann, Glenn Underground, Theo Parrish et al. It displayed a different side to his sound, more organic, and exploring that age old interface between house and jazz. It was glorious, and continued on from his strong debut, with many anticipating his next move greatly.

And now, we arrive at ‘Blue Universe’. The opener, ‘Hotel’, sets the tone of what is to come. Blissed out pads interlaced with piano, beatless, it is intoxicating already, as it unravels just slightly to reveal the innards of a breathtaking musical landscape. The stabs are light, the bass is gentle, the chords are all there doing their thing. It opens up many roads of inquiry, and its a journey that is too inviting to pass on. Comparing to his 2017 release primarily, the same feels are there, but this already seems to be more exploratory than immediately obvious. Up next comes ‘Cloud Jam’, and one is thrown back in the deep end. Synths meet kicks, with percussion joining in for good measure. Keys bounce around, as the tune builds fast, to a point where something big is going to be introduced. Yet, the tune remains timid, and that is a good thing. The focus is drawn to the nature of the transitions, that ease around, elements moving in and out of the incessant beat. Even this feels like a new side to PC’s music, and a really invigorating one. Filtered chords accompany a slick bass line, and yet another layer adds in when the beat kicks back in in some style. ‘In Ubud’ comes next, and conjures up imagery from around the world. This one almost feels like it was directly sampled in a souk, with swirling harmonies and the hustle and bustle outlined over motorbikes and a light percussive element. ‘Ridge Walk’ comes back in next, and for all that energy, we dip our toe once more. A strong synth solo provides the backbone once more, acting as our guide through this national park of a song. The focus that is drawn to the main line just reinforces it as the moment to wake up a little bit, because its very easy to get lost in these soft as hell tones. Piano lines jump on board, because why not! this is seriously beautiful music.

‘To Los Angeles’ evokes this writers view of being there. From the synths used (maybe a Moog?), that reminds one of soft jazz fusion from the 1970s, to its pulsating bass line, to its drawn out and slowed groove. The beat is smooth, the groove polished as hell, and once again the synths allow for all manner of elements to emphasis it. Solos of basses and little key lines just add to its appeal, a warm embrace from the City of Angels. it really does feel like the soft pastel skyline on a Friday night, before it all happens again. J Funk inspired lines keep on coming, and the song is all the better for it. PC once again surprises us, but given the name of the song, and the context it is portraying, it feels like a reaction to the city. The nature of its being. And that is something special to recreate in a song, let alone an electronic one with no vocals. ‘Flutes’ comes in, and already we move onto another world. PC does something cool here; with many albums who are going for that other worldly, down tempo feel, it all starts to feel like one long narrative. Good, but not enough variation to really get into what the artist is wanting to convey. PC however, brings a whole new formula to the table with each tune, the variations between textures and tones always so refreshing, that it is continually engaging and emotionally connective. That song should last way longer than 3 minutes! Up next we have ‘Sunset’. A tone is set, much more minimal than the last few tracks. A bass line comes in, with other balearic elements, before a lovely synth arpeggio greets the birds as they fly off into the distance. The paring back of elements creates this scene of just the sea, the sky, and the little variations we see in an environment that catch the eye for a second, before they disappear. A minute element in a world filled with wonder. ‘Hanoman’ comes up next. The atmosphere takes a bit of a deep dive here, with aquatic synths laid over a bed of noise and activity. Another eclectic vibe to get lost in here, as the keys ascend from the deep to just pop their head above water, for one second, then blend into the background. Finally, we have ‘Home’. A well earned name for the final track on an album filled with emotive checkpoints, here the synths sparkle and radiate through the filter. All the while in the distance a drum loop seems eager to break through, but never does, instead remaining in the background as a quiet riddim. The tune evolves further and further, with a well decent bass line thudding alongside all kinds of other things that pull us closer and closer to a place of warm and safety. Home it seems, is everything we want it to be; complex, cosy and somewhere we personalise and treasure. PC conjures up these notions purely through the name of the song contextualising this warmth, that shines through enormously.

This album will continue to refresh and delight with continued listens. A real exploration of the warmth of electronica, but also its ability to push and understand that feeling within all of us. Via the intelligent us of instrumentation and layering, PC creates a world, a series of scenarios and contexts to be a part of. The overall tone provides us space to nestle there and join in, interactive in its feel, and real in its creation of environments and sounds. A real joy.

Support the troops:

https://coastalhaze.bandcamp.com/album/blue-universe

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