Phenomenally Intricate: Iglooghost

With his recent releases, Iglooghost takes experimental electronic music to the next level

Iglooghost, a producer working out of London with an LP, 4 EPs, and an 8/10 from Anthony Fantano under his belt, makes some of the strangest music around. Like Skrillex, Iglooghost’s tracks are meticulously curated compositions, with cavernous synths and mindbogglingly dense instrumentation. Iglooghost has carved a niche in electronic music with his two most recent EPs, Clear Tamei, and Steel Mogul, and the critically celebrated LP Neo Wax Bloom, released in 2017. It’s hard to assign Iglooghost to any particular genre other than perhaps experimental: suffice it to say that his music has to be heard to be experienced.

Iglooghost admitted in an interview that he spends a month on each track he puts out. It makes sense; his tracks are phenomenally intricate – a mix of bubblegum bass – a genre of electronic music distinguished by warped and syncopated rhythms, and high pitched, distorted vocal tracks – and dubstep, with gritty, high paced drum and bass lines collapsing into heavy, overwhelming drops. It’s hard to overstate just how dense the texture is; 10 minutes of his music can sound like a whole album. How a single person ever managed to pull it all together is a little painful to think about.

Iglooghost is an artistic project which comes from the internet.  ‘The internet is where I fucking grew my brain in a lot of ways.’ said Iglooghost, in an interview with The Fader. ‘I think it’s the reason why this shit is so cheery and fast and the music is never staying in one moment’. In both his tracks and, on a broader scale, his albums, Iglooghost makes the typical progressions we are used to – from verses to choruses and to bridges – hard to detect.  The songs, with  industrial synth tracks and twinkly bell lines above rapping in an invented language – blur together into an extended musical experience, with riffs repeating across the album and tracks coming back to haunt us; like a lot of content which comes from the internet, Iglooghost is, more than anything else, totally, and purposefully designed to engage all of the listener’s brain. When asked what he hoped the listener would get from his work, Igloo said, in an interview with the site Pop Matters, ‘I hope they imagine crazy scenes and little movies in their head.’

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His music, broadly, fits into IDM, or ‘Intelligent Dance Music’, the subgenre of electronic music more suited to home-listening than at 3am in a nightclub. IDM emerged in 90’s Britain, pioneered by producers like Aphex Twin and μ-ziq, although those artists came to dismiss the name as elitist and dismissive. But Iglooghost’s music is so detailed that ‘intelligent’, as a descriptor, seems to fit; it demands concentration, and the rapid pace and rhythm which drives these albums forward can leave it’s audience reeling.

Neo Wax Bloom, and both Clear Tamei and Steel Mogul, are concept albums set in a mythological world called Mamu; Neo Wax Ghost tells the story of Mamu’s destruction, after ‘a giant calamity involving two huge eyeballs falling from the sky had completely screwed up their ecosystem’. The two EPs are set thousands of years earlier, in Mamu’s prehistory; ‘We are introduced to a young, see-through, god in-training named Tamei.’ writes Iglooghost, in the liner notes for the EPs. ‘Although a gifted [sic], he and his little cohorts resent their fate of becoming Grid Göds – and find themselves wound up in a hyperspeed, cross-temporal battle with a fleet of mysterious, round beings.’

The fact that Iglooghost has constructed a cosmic mythos to underlie all of his work and aesthetic gives the projects a measure of narrative depth; and the whole genre of Bubblegum Bass draws greatly from the cartoonish, otherworldly culture that Igloo’s lore takes it’s lead from. Bubblegum Bass is preoccupied with the cute aesthetic we find in the Japanese subcultures of kawaii and decora. Furthermore, Igloo explained his release of two EPs at once by invoking the iconic Nintendo videogame Pokemon. ‘There was [sic] Diamond and Pearl, and for the original there was Red and Blue.because of that, I love the idea of having these two things’.

Iglooghost is enigmatic; his music is complex and experimental, and pushes the boundaries of electronic music with it’s sonic ebullience and expansive, maximalist instrumentation. In a review for Pitchfork, Jay Balfour wrote ‘Malliagh [Iglooghost] makes the type of music that happens to you, that turns your mind into a passive receptor and resists explication.’ Balfour is right – Iglooghost makes music you experience, rather than art you consume, and it’s the experiential, absorbing nature of his work, ultimately, which makes it so engaging and innovative.