In some ways, Cokewave may not be the most appropriate name for the debut EP by Ambalance, the new collaboration between veteran Toronto electronic music producer XI and co-conspirator Skeleton Bone. One would expect an album called Cokewave to be filled with high-energy, 130 BPM stompers and cheesy, ’80s-style synths.
This album is almost the exact opposite.
Ambalance’s Bandcamp site refers to group as playing “heroin house,” and that term is actually a fairly accurate description of the three songs on the record. They really do sound like a chopped-and-screwed take on house music.
The first song, “Hello Nobody,” isn’t nodding-out slow, but at around 90 BPM, it’s less of a stomp and more of a determined trudge. The synths are almost haunting, with spooky, echo-y chords stabbing through a sea of bleeps and bloops. “Lawn Gong” works at a similarly leisurely pace, but is far more cheerful. The song is anchored by a huge variety of percussive sounds, ranging from claps to snares to bongo drums, which wind their way around an ever-expanding keyboard riff.
The final song on the EP, aptly named “Snooze Button,” is the most surreal song of the three. With it’s skittering hi-hats and a series of sounds that sound more like forest noises than anything else, it sounds like the soundtrack to a weird fever dream.
It’s oddly fitting that Cokewave was released during this bout of unseasonably warm weather, because its the sonic equivalent of a summer afternoon spent drinking outside in the sun. It’s enjoyable, but it also leaves you feeling kind of hazy and discombobulated.