The ancient inhabitants of Mamu are in peril and only Iglooghost can save them. It’s so pressing that he’s written an entire album chronicling the catastrophic events, the accompanying visuals as rich and mind melting as his recordings.
“I mean, narrative doesn’t really feel like the right word because all this stuff the album’s about actually happened,” he reminds me. “I started talking to these little beings who kept falling out of a peach coloured portal in my garden, and learning about this misty world made of chalk they’re from. I thought it was neat so I made an album about it & drew all the pictures of ‘em. It kinda felt like scoring a movie I’d only been told about, so it was a really weird way of working.”
If you have encountered Iglooghost before, none of this should come as a surprise. The initial bewilderment of being signed to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label as a teenager has crystalised into something much more real; an EP of “4 concise, independent statements” like 2015’s Chinese Nü Yr will no longer suffice. In short, Seamus Malliagh must deliver on his early promise.
Few will need convincing that debut album Neo Wax Bloom does exactly that, even if Seamus reveals its development was “a harsh process”. “It kinda dawned on me nobody really makes modern electronic albums too often aside from the big dogs, or at least nobody raised on Soundcloud. I really just had to play it by ear and ended up scrapping like 4 near-finished versions of the record. So many semi-mental breakdowns”.
He persevered, but the finished productions were often influenced by the limits of his equipment. “To be honest, I could happily work on those tracks forever. It’s really hard to decide when to stop working, but it usually comes down to either just being sensible or that fact my laptop’s RAM starts dying. There were a few tracks that just got to the point where I couldn’t open the project files because they were too big. I really wanted to make every bar of every song completely different on this record, that was kinda one of the motifs, but fuck man – my laptop absolutely paid for it. Poor little guy. I need to be more pragmatic with this shit.”
It makes sense for the tech to give out; the Iglooghost signature sound is often akin to audio claustrophobia, layers of frenzied beats and cluttered textures that batter and disorientate the listener with little breathing space. Neo Wax Bloom is a record in the same vein but all the more notable for its storytelling, the sentiment conveyed amongst its lush soundscapes and ability to sidestep any sense of familiarity. ‘White Gum’ is prickly and abrasive, there’s the restrained fragility of ‘Purity Shards’ and ‘Peanut Choker’ is furiously seductive, all in the space of around thirty-five chaotic minutes.
“Obviously the first thing people usually mention about the Igloo stuff is that there’s a lot weird shit going on,” Seamus admits. “But I’m a big sucker for melodies and I try and spend a stupid amount of time on them. It is kinda weird hearing people talk about them sometimes – because, to me, the album sounds really sad. It sounds like a sad baby or something, childish and energetic, but melancholy. I think the first people who heard it were my mum and dad and they were talking about how uplifting it sounds. It’s hella weird how melodies are so subjective.”
If the melodies are a matter of personal taste, the general consensus will surely be that Iglooghost’s debut album is a blistering success, a record of rare originality and dizzying immersion. “I can really only hope to try to say something that hasn’t been said yet, but still has a function rather than being different for the sake of different,” Seamus confesses. “It’s a balance I kinda wrestle with every day. Hurts my brain man.” Remarkably, it’s a struggle that positions Neo Wax Bloom as one of Brainfeeder’s strongest releases in recent memory.