Coma: In Technicolor
In the press release accompanying its debut Coma album In Technicolor, Georg Conrad and Marius Bubat state, “Where our previous releases were kind of mirroring a foggy black and white movie, this is definitely a colour film.” Not having heard them, I can't speak to those previous EP releases, but there's no question the Cologne-based duo's album is a richly hued affair. Three years in the making, the hour-long collection is an exuberant and expressive set of club-ready songcraft that isn't shy about embracing its pop side. Guests do appear, among them Roosevelt, Vimes, MIT's Edi Winarni, and Ada, but it's very much Coma's show.
Coma's gift for hooks is clearly evident in catchy cuts such as the opener “Hoooooray,” specifically in the alternating synthesizer melodies that accompany the tune's minimal vocal phrases, and in the rapturous vocal counterpoint gracing “My Orbit”—earworms all. Elsewhere, “Missing Piece” digs into its melancholy vocal melodies with aplomb (“All I ever wanted to do / Was just write your name in the sand”) before Conrad and Bubat give the tune additional propulsion with a deliciously driving bass pattern, while “Out Of Control” receives its strongest boost from the rollicking piano melodies that careen o'ertop the tune's techno snap.
In Technicolor includes both vocal and instrumental pieces, the former naturally more pop-like in feel (and sometimes, as in the case of “The Great Escape,” vocodered) and the latter typically more characteristic of club music. It wouldn't be hard to imagine radio-friendly fare like “Les Dilettantes” being pitched as a single, whereas certain tracks seem tailor-made for the club or festival experience. An epic-in-waiting, “Cycle,” for example, stokes a slow and steady fire in its use of sequencer patterns, staccato claps, and chugging groove, while artfully arranged instrumentals such as the radiant evocations “#” and “T.E.D.” show that Coma's music can be just as captivating when vocals aren't involved.
Coma very clearly represents Kompakt's poppier side—In Technicolor is worlds removed from something like Wolfgang Voigt's Freiland Klaviermusik, for example (though, admittedly, Voigt's piano-centered collection appears on Kompakt's sub-label Profan)—but there's nothing inherently objectionable about that, especially when the music is of such high quality.