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Coma World - Coma World (Album Review)

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

Coma World

Coma World

5 February 2021

Byrd Out Records

Album Rating 4 / 5

Favourite Songs Cream Submarine, Thief, Some Sleep for the Weak, Megatone

A potent mix of dark grooves, trembling bass lines, and electronic rumblings question the concept of reality on the debut eponymous album from Coma World, a new collaboration between Maxwell Hallett a.k.a. Betamax (The Comet Is Coming/Soccer96) and Pete Bennie (Speaker’s Corner Quartet).

The record is inspired by the duo's friends recollection of being in a coma, as the mystery of consciousness is given the freedom to unravel itself and explore the distortions and puzzles of what truths hide behind this experience. The project was undertaken through analogue studio relics followed by an 'all hands on deck’ live mix down performance from 1/4” tape; the result is a spontaneous collection of sonic debris.

Coma World, Maxwell "Betamax" Hallett and Pete Bennie
Coma World, Maxwell "Betamax" Hallett (L) and Pete Bennie (R)

The movement between songs makes the album feel like a beat tape in many ways, quickly moving from one disorientating environment to another. 'Duty to Die' in this respect takes on an extra existential dread as the electronica heats up and seesaws back and forth through the contemplation of the purpose of being in a coma. The tom pattern here thumps out in a trance-like sensation and adds to the sense of concern and anxiety emanating from the droney-industrial syncopations of 'Strangers in the Home' - the question of who and what has entered the 'coma world' is left ambiguous on these songs.

Dirty funk broods over a few tracks, with Bennie's bass replicating a deep dub effect on 'Megatone' and playing in the pocket with the looser drums from Betamax inducing a trip of wooziness. With these songs, it feels almost nostalgic or as if these feelings have been dramatically foreshadowed to push forward the minds' insecurities into a menacing repetition of grooves. 'Thief' almost breaks off from this as the strumming bass charges out with the reverb ringing out before petering out.

'Wild Colours' has a threatening nature to it, with the ambient sounds acting as a prequel to 'Paranoid Visions of Worm' as they both sound weirdly metallic and clinical, demonstrating a lack of warmth felt in part of the record. The compressed effect on the bass in 'Oblonge' intoxicates and 'No Focus' feels the most improvised in many ways, with Betamax providing some breaks on the drums to compliment the swishing electronics. 'Mind Grinder' feels like a fire alarm has been set off in your mind, with the rush of panic amplified by the jarring sounds.

Coma World, Maxwell "Betamax" Hallett and Pete Bennie
Coma World, Maxwell "Betamax" Hallett (L) and Pete Bennie (R)

It's not all heavy material on the album though, with 'Cream Submarine' applying thick layers of psychedelic guitar sounds to offer a softer delirium to the listener. The dizziness takes on a drearier tone in 'Some Sleep for the Weak' and echoes out like a shoegazing chiller, with these songs providing a sanctuary of a drowsy, medicinal haze that the coma patient would go through.

The LP is really intriguing and seduces you into your own 'Coma World' of understanding the contortions of the 'rhythmadelic' drum raptures and pummeling bass patterns. The spontaneity of the tracks evoke the jazz spirit in its freedom and movement between moods, but the heaviness puts you into a trance that absorbs all the electronic tinges that go from the psychedelic to the industrial to make a great experimental record.


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