Cosmin TRG, Gordian


Image by Jane Masters

[50Weapons]


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Cosmin “TRG” Nicolae is a veritable chameleon. Since his first record for Hessle Audio back in 2007, the Romanian has bounced around the fertile gray area between house, techno, and dubstep, constantly changing things up and frustrating efforts to classify his output. It’s no wonder his current home is 50Weapons, a label that has made an actual business of ignoring genres. But while this broad-minded creativity is admirable, it can be precarious, too. Step too far from the established canon, and you lose the fans stuck on your current identity, or who only like music compatible with their pet genre. Stick too close, and you run the risk of disappointing those who value your sheer restlessness, and myriad places it leads them. Gordian, Nicolae’s sophomore album, seems to sit somewhere nearer the second option.

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Sure, this album is a different beast than his debut LP. Simulat was exuberant, euphoric, sparing. Gordian owes just as much to chords, but here they’re formed into wide-ranging and hesitant mélanges, rather than hooky sledgehammers. Backgrounds are nearly always filled out with silvery tape hiss instead of being left blank for contrast. There are some exceptions: tracks like “New Structures for Loving,” “Desire is Sovereign,” and last year’s “Vertigo” range from sprightly to outright banging, and their dopamine-fueled swings prove hard to resist. But on the whole, Gordian is decidedly introverted, differentiating it from the perky demeanor of Nicolae’s previous material.

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Stylistically, however, this is fairly familiar. The meatiest sections are underpinned by shunting, 4/4 kicks — “Semipresent” — while Nicolae’s particular incandescent chords remain strong emotional drivers in many tracks, most notably “Defeated Hearts Club” and “Divided by Design.” And in cuts like “Gordian” and “Terminus Abrupt,” his trademark quirky progressions are audible, though they’re stacked and mashed into examples of bubbling intricacy, rather than popping like a simple neon sign. This sense of familiarity doesn’t drag things down. On the contrary, it’s nice to hear Nicolae staying still and exploring a particular sound more deeply. But for some, the effort needed to go with him will be too much. The LP is a wallflower; just as intelligent and interesting as the person commanding attention at the center of the room, so long as you work to find out. To certain people, however, this is a factor that will no doubt make Gordian seem short on fun.

Trackbacks

Little White Earbuds Interviews Cosmin TRG | Little White Earbuds  on July 17, 2013 at 10:01 AM

[…] signature that people have stuck by him, all the way up to his newly-released second album, Gordian.But as I discovered, the journey this far hasn’t been effortless; Nicolae is still learning […]

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