Irish Footwork and IDM producer Seamus Malliagh has produced his wonky brand of unbelievable electronic mayhem for about three years now, but Neō Wax Bloom is his full-length debut and his first release on a known label, Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder Records. Since 2014 he’s released a handful of singles, an EP, and now this album all showing off his exceptionally neurotic, crossfading-cocaine-adderall-infused brand of icy Drum’n’Bass Trip Hop—and if that sentence doesn’t make you immediately turn on his album, I’m not sure what else will. With this as a jumping off point, let’s try to parse out a semblance of what’s going on in this incredible debut—the musical equivalent of watching an ice castle explode in fast motion for 41 minutes.
First off, one difficulty in approaching Neō Wax Bloom with the intention of digesting or understanding it is the monolithic continuity of the record—not only are the transitions flawless; the use of similarly breakneck BPMs, micro-sampling and basically the same five R Plus Seven-meets-Glass Swords uncanny valley synths gives it a monotonous quality, but do not fear; this is not really a bad thing. Iglooghost is essentially taking the premise of digital-accelerationist artists like Hudson Mohawke, Sophie, Rustie, and Oneohtrix Point Never to their logical fucking extreme, wherein everyone on the dance floor has too much free coke to really function, and one is left with the kind same kind of IDM terrorism Squarepusher, Venetian Snares, and Kid 606 made popular back in 2004 but with a certain contemporary awareness of our post-vaporwave aesthetics.
But take, for instance, the album’s first single “Bug Thief”—in its first ten seconds, we hear the same kind of digital pre-set keyboard guitar and fake chorus as you might have heard on any of Daniel Lopatin’s past three albums, then a reversed percussion attack and glitching sine wave synth specifically in the style of Holly Herdon. A digital bell flourish enters, then more arping sytnhs, and a vocal sample to cue the central rhythm. The primary eight or so melody loops are all introduced very quickly, but they trade a move about constantly, and the shuffling micro-sampled beats keep adding new parts to accelerate. Consequently, the track keeps up this stream-of-consciousness feel even though it’s basically centered around ten loops. It continues like this, adding an unintelligibly cut-up rapping sample until its ultimate synth-guitar coda.
Interlude “Purity Shards” works well—it’s the album’s shortest song, but its stuttering rhythm, nonsense and Japanese vocal samples, and chilly bells really epitomize the Iglooghost aesthetic disposition: cold, fast, internet exoticism—that is to say, his music profits almost entirely from the internet’s obsessive appropriation of other cultures for the sake of creating a nonexistent, exoticized fantasy world entirely its own, just as vaporwave did, just as chillwave did, and so on. Iglooghost’s own attempt at world-building definitely draws from this tradition, but contains a nonsensical drugged focus all its own. It’s a brilliant case of a brilliant producer taking something seemingly common and putting a unique stamp on it.
Later tracks feature actual, performed spoken-word and rapping, though equally unintelligible, sped-up, pitchshifted, and otherwise manipulated beyond recognition. “Infinite Mint” is the best example of this—a relatively slow track for the album, perhaps just a brisk walk instead of a sprint—on which Cuushe provides methodical, entrancing Japanese vocals over Grime-y glass-breaking samples and a Latin snare rhythm.
On “Peanut Choker” Iglooghost gives us a late-album gem—opening with half-a-minute of ecstatic synth workout before a stellar beat entrance. Its vocal sample “and they don’t stop running” is a rare moment of English for the record, and it’s as catchy as every other sample. The introduction of a DnB tambourine kicks the tempo into double time before the track enters a call-and-response use of two samples at two speeds, and then finishes with a soothing, perhaps real, guitar.
Overall, Neō Wax Bloom is an insane piece of work from a producer making tomorrow’s dance music. Malliagh seamlessly sews together every relevant component of contemporary electronic music, all at once, as fast as possible, and as well as possible. Maybe the only album I’ve heard in the past few years that even comes close to anticipating this kind of music is last year’s Popp by Oval, but even that was nearly as well executed, and it wasn’t half as infectious. That’s the wonderful thing about Iglooghost—he’s able to simultaneously push the boundaries of experimental electronic to its furthest extremes but still make ridiculously good dance music. Look forward to an even better sophomore album for this precocious producer