Sound Advice: Cokewave by Ambalance
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Sound Advice: Cokewave by Ambalance


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.