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Album Review: Papadosio's Content Coma

Artist: Papadosio

Album: Content Coma

Release Date: September 7, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5

Progressive electronica band Papadosio released their fifth studio album Content Coma on September 7, giving fans a full dose of 12 new tracks just in time for their newly announced tour.

For the first time ever, the band went into a professional recording studio to produce the album to lay down the drums, piano and bass.

“We have self recorded and produced all of our releases in order to make the final product as unique and personal as possible. By recording the raw drum tracks in a professional setting, it really opened up the sonic range of what we had to work with while mixing. With each album, our sound progresses and we think this album is a generous step forward in our songwriting, our production techniques and our sonic palette,” the band stated.

The Asheville guys went into the studio with over 30 ideas for what the album would be centered around, using Splice as an online collaborative platform to steer the direction of the album.

“Content Coma is an acknowledgment of the current state of our consciousnesses, a commentary on the phenomenon of our dependence on technology. Social media keeps us apart and brings us together in ways we couldn't have imagined just 20 years ago. We have access to every movie, TV show, or album ever made at our fingertips at all times. We can answer almost any question instantly. The information age presents us with both with an energy and misinformation crisis, yet, at the same time it also provides a means to know the ‘other’ in new ways that can help us find common ground with all people on Earth. This album is an exploration of our emotions and sentiments while navigating this content coma we all find ourselves in,” guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist Anthony Thogmartin said.

Opening up the album is “Write Sing Play Mix,” laying down a technical, almost eerie-like digital beat to fit the theme of the album. This song is a play on the album, allowing keyboardists Billy and Sam Brouse, multi-instrumentalist Anthony Thogmartin, drummer Mike Healy and bassist Rob McConnell to all have fun adding in their mix. Close to a minute into the song, Thogmartin’s use of the vocoder adds an extra dimension to the song before the song takes a dark melodic approach.

“Liminal Daybreak” is an instrumental track that beautifully showcases the production work of the album. The ambient sound throughout the song builds up into a daydream and is perfectly accompanied by Thogmartin’s lyrics at minute three, “Dawn on the rise I just opened my eyes,” finishing with an overlapped vocal harmonization and uplifting mixed voice.

“Skipswitch” is a fun, jazzy tune off the album. The track starts off with different pitch variations of the same drum beat before starting into a slow, jazzy tempo. The keys take over this tune with a classical approach, placed perfect over light electronic undertones while Healy is able to show his finesse keeping everything tight on the drums. High energy synths top off the tune before slipping into a continual guitar melody ending with a minimal-note classical keyboard sequence.

“Fire Rite” is another fiery track off the album, starting with steady guitar riffs as Thogmartin’s voice comes in laying down soothing lyrics before the pace picks up into a deep and heavy drum beat. The progression of the song has amazing layers of the guitar, adding in an alternative-rock vibe with short guitar riffs over bursts of electronic chords. A melody crescendo builds up the song with underlying synths before Thogmartin’s voice brings it back to the chorus.

“The World is a Cube” is the heaviest track on the album. Deep bass and drum riffs kick off the grungy song, while Billy Brouse leads this track and comes in with the lyrics “The internet has made me smarter than you, I’ve looked it up and I’m certain it’s true,” playing into the dark digital theme of the album. The band perfectly utilizes the synths to deepen the mechanical machine funk song and are picked up by the edgy electric beat.

“Content Coma” is a personal favorite off the album. Starting off with low dark organ keyboard chords, it jumps into an upbeat drumming while Thogmartin’s voice resonates with the darker theme of the song. An electronic beat greets the harmonized chorus, “We’ve been conned, living content coma, somnolent, all malcontent, coma.” The track relates the unnerving theme of the digital world we’ve all been sucked into. We’re exposed every day to numerous forms of never-ending content, almost always at the tips of our fingers. We hide behind our digital screens to view the content of the world, which can be used for good and for bad.

“Passage” closes out the album with a down-tempo melody highlighting Thogmartin’s voice. This ballad relates the idea of finding and freeing yourself from whatever is holding you back. What makes the track remarkable is the mixed violin melody for the last half of the song. I was completely blown away listening to this track, as it completely demonstrates the diverse audio production of this album. The violin perfectly mixes with the drumming and gradually fades, closing out the album on an atmospheric tone.

Content Coma can be deemed Papadosio’s best recorded album to date. The album shows the band’s evolution by incorporating different genres and mixed sound qualities while staying true to their original sound. The production quality is top notch, while each track highlights the various musical influences of each musician in the band. Papadosio is out on their Content Coma 2018 Tour, with their next stop at Resonance Music and Arts Festival on September 20. You can listen to Content Coma on Spotify, Youtube, Apple Music, Bandcamp and Google Play.

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