Album Review – Kodomo: Patterns & Light

Ambient music is always a gamble. If done wrong, you end up with jumbled background noise devoid of emotion or semblance of talent. If done right, it showcases an immense talent for production and layering that fully immerses the listener, but it is still made to be played in the background. A clear example of “if you do something right, it appears as if you’re not doing anything at all.” With that in mind, Patterns & Light by Brooklyn-based electronica artist Kodomo is “doing it right.” He has put together an ambient opus that doesn’t overstay its welcome, but doesn’t fully leave a lasting mark either.

The opening track, “Overture” sets the tone for the rest of the forty-four minute album. It’s a short and sweet synth trip that sucks you in immediately to the proceedings. And just like that, it’s over. “Impromptu” is next, and feels more like the jump start to Patterns & Light. A high energy, industrial track that picks up the BPMs and layering as if to tell the listener that you will not just be a passive passenger on this journey, not just yet anyway. The frantic yet controlled sounds of that song bleed right into the soft, melodic piano of “Time Lapse 1,” an interlude. This pattern goes on for pretty much the remainder of the album, and that is where Patterns & Light somewhat falters.

The tone of the album is almost perfectly passed to go up and down at key points, drawing you in then letting loose with an appropriate energy. Yet, due to the expectations of the ambient frame, it somehow feels as if you’re being shortchanged wheb the proceedings slow back down. That is inherent problem with an ambient, electronic album; keeping it from becoming background noise without losing the very essence of what it’s supposed to be. Tracks like “Mind Like a Diamond” utilize acoustic guitar and slight dub to rise above sounding like glorified menu music from a video game but eventually falls back into that realm, albeit with more emotion.

Patterns & Light is a well crafted album from beginning to end, no doubt about that and the melding of several electronic styles throughout the album does work in its favor more often than not. The only real knock against it is the way most of those style evoke a more energetic feel than the album as a whole is going for. Coming off like more of a buffet of smaller offerings than a truly original work, Patterns & Light is definitely a good listen, but falls short of its ultimate goal by simply veering off the path too much.

Originally published (06/26/2014)


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