Published Nov 08, 2018TJ Hertz probably needn't have used an artist pseudonym for his work, but for whatever reason, he has released music as Objekt for the past few years. Originally somewhat of a prodigal son of the "post-dubstep" movement, he has since developed his sonic scope to reach the extended tendrils of electronic music. His sound is a sort of "hyper-detail," where each minuscule piece of waveform or frequency seems to have been shaped meticulously into dazzling form. This has all really been par for the course for Hertz, but on Cocoon Crush, it has never rung more true in what surely is a masterpiece of modern electronic music.
Hertz has always been a practitioner of refined sound design, to an almost obsessive degree. What is new in Cocoon Crush is the almost incomprehensibly organic approach to cohesion in his music. Many sounds feel as they were torn from some parallel universe and played on some instrument of unknown origin. It sounds real, but it isn't, if that makes sense. This is the key distinction between Flatland, Objekt's previous LP, and Cocoon Crush. If Flatland was unabashedly digital and synthetic, Cocoon Crush is a tropical rainforest teeming with life.
On "Lost and Found (Lost Mix)," we get our first sampling of this. The central melody could almost have been pulled from some sort of distant ocarina, and it floats above a fluid foundation of synthesizer and cinematic foley sounds. This sort of approach was definitely alluded to in his recent Red Bull Music Academy lecture, where he goes into some of the techniques to his sound. The first portion of the album is candidly melodic, and strikes an emotional chord. "Dazzle Anew" floats in a shimmer, then twists and turns into the well-established Objekt-isms. "35" is likely the most dance-floor-ready track on the album, and it is entirely cathartic. The robotic vocal sample is almost certainly a nod to Boards of Canada, and although the melody is similarly affective, the sound itself is represented in crystalline quality.
There are certain sounds that are similar to Objekt's own white label release "Needle & Thread" on Objekt #4, although I hesitate to use the word recycled. Rather, similar sounds are repurposed and mangled into new form in "Nervous Silk," and later on in "Runaway." "Nervous Silk" represents a turning point in the album's progression, where consonant and optimistic melodics become more eerily dystopian. "Deadlock" chugs along with a sort of manic boom bap, and "Rest Yr Troubles Over Me" belies reliance on any form of percussion, instead resting on a foreboding synthetic bell sound.
"Runaway" is as frantic as its title would suggest, especially at the conclusion. Rattling arpeggiation and disparately struck drums add to the sense of tribalism within the track. Next, "Secret Snake" balances a perfect relationship between atmospheric ambience and rhythmic impetus, with an excellent main riff that appears past the halfway mark. It eventually warps into lush pads that mark the beginning of "Another Knot," which too harkens back to Objekt sounds of old. It serves as a transitional moment before the concluding track "Lost and Found (Found Mix)," and what a conclusion it is.
Cocoon Crush does an excellent job of maintaining thematic progression within an electronic context, not a simple task. "Lost and Found (Found Mix)" cleverly ties into the similarly named introductory track, but injects it with new life and a different accompanying cast. Things totally break down into distortion around a third of the way through, but rebuild almost operatically to let the final notes of our foreign ocarina ring out, effectively and conclusively.
Artists that push themselves with every release are rare, and rarer still are the artists where each new frontier is a successful one. Objekt is one of those, and Cocoon Crush demands to be listened to intently and completely. The arrangements themselves are never predictable, twisting and turning with opportunistic glee, marrying the fluidity of his role as a sonic architect. Superlatives can often be tossed around carelessly when describing music, but in TJ Hertz' case, they are wholly and utterly deserved. (Pan)