Written By: Sam Marshall
Originality: (4.0 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (4.0 / 5) Production: (5.0 / 5) Average: (4.3 / 5)
The Russian enigma, known as Coubo, released Strangers in August this year.
Firstly, It is very strange to find an artist that has not got a pristine, smooth internet profile, and Coubo’s story is really unique in this aspect. If you read his artist profile, for example, Coubo has no musical education or music software, “just ears”. This to me makes the sleek final product truly remarkable. In a world of Youtube how-to’s, and the cost of modern midi keyboards, to find an album as well produced and constructed as Strangers is crazy. The Soundcloud is there, and the Bandcamp is there, but everything else is very much kept mysterious and underwraps. While I really like this mysterious, early-Zhu-esque character, it makes finding artistic information an absolute nightmare.
Strangers follows a few different paths over the 7 track course of the album, but stays to a central electronic, chilled mood. The album flows fairly consistently from track to track, with the exception of “Dotara Song”, which brings an almost unwelcome addition to the laidback rest of the album. Coubo’s flirting with the Indian sounds in “Dotara Song” does suggest that his abilities stretch into other areas untouched in Strangers, but to me it doesn’t fit with the rest of the album. Unfortunately, the smooth, ambient nature of the album is juxtaposed rather crookedly with the jagged theme in “Dotara Song”.
Highlights on the album the include “Something About My Flava”, which begins with a smooth electronic beat, and gradually works up, introducing some dense electronic instrumentals and a short but intriguing vocal input over the top. Worthy of note is Coubo’s intricacies in his work, and how they work to keep the album from feeling stagnant and sluggish. In adding simple additions like small fragments of counter melody, random percussion figures and changes of mood, he enables the whole album to exist as a whole body of work, almost seamlessly flowing for 23 minutes from piece to piece. “Galactic Mind” has elements of techno-noir film soundtrack, and pushes on in a semi-dark manner. The album engages where some ambient artists fail.
The fact that Coubo is currently not releasing music, on the basis that he is on military service is tragic. Like for many, his musical abilities are inhibited by cultural barriers, and I look forward to his return in 2018. Strangers is the perfect proof that anyone can make music, and that boundaries can be pushed and stretched by anyone.