The second album from Objekt, on trend-setting electronic/experimental label PAN, was a highly anticipated release on the 2018 calendar. Unfortunately, Cocoon Crush suffers from the dreaded ‘sophomore slump’ and delivers a collection of largely downtempo, directionless ambient beats. The Berlin-based English producer T.J. Hertz’s second album as Objekt continues his pursuit of detailed, glossy production, but unlike 2014’s more pacey, unpredictable and fun debut Flatland, he seems more content to move along at a caterpillar’s pace and be adrift in the textures and timbres of the pieces here as opposed to making anything remotely dancefloor-friendly.
The album is bookended by the Lost and Found mixes, with the Lost mix starting the proceedings with a few simple notes against a curtain of delicate synths. So far, so good. However, it is soon apparent the album will rarely rise above the vaporous washes, the clatter of sound effects and the dirge-like pace.
A slew of slo-mo sci-fi ambient pieces such as Dazzle Anew, Silica and Another Knot seem to all be cut from the same cloth, making the listening experience a kind of hazy blur. Although, Nervous Silk did manage to bring back memories of excursions into similar territory 20 years ago by producer Danny Breaks (anyone remember him?)
Some tracks do add a beat and have something more for the listener to nod their head to, but that’s a relative statement, as even Deadlock and 35 with their boom-bap tough beats, big basslines and sinister sounds are still plodding affairs more likely to turn a smile into a frown. Another track with a bit of a pulse, Runaway starts out slow with chimes and computer-generated sound effects to the tune of a warbling dissonant melody and some jazzy drums, but then switches things up for a nice bouncy tom-tom-led outro. Not bad, but then again it just kind of reminds you of what you’re missing.
Single Secret Snake is certainly the high point of the album, starting with slow rounded tones and busy sound effects added, but then after about two minutes an actual bass melody kicks in, followed up by some tasty slabby synth stabs with yet another melody interweaving with all of the above. An impressive track – more of this on the next record, please!
The album ends with the Found mix of Lost and Found, except on this version we get some harsh blasts of noise to send us on our way, just in case of any lingering desires to outstay our welcome on this record.
Although Hertz has spent years agonizing over the quality and shape of the sounds here, he seems to have lost sight of the bigger picture, instead staring at sine waves with a magnifying glass. For better or worse, Hertz seems to be content to be untethered in this space, and seemingly indifferent at the prospects of a rescue mission. Not that the approach is without its pleasures. I mean, sure: I like echo-y chimes, reverberating thuds and computerized squidges as much as the next person, and perhaps the title reflects a kind of ‘metamorphosis, interrupted’ ethos to signify a new direction or exorcise some malignant spirits. Regardless, people who enjoyed Flatland are likely to have their expectations crushed by the lack of pace and general lost feel of this album.