Seamus Malliagh lives in a world of his own. Perhaps more widely known as his moniker Iglooghost, he is somewhat of an enigma— the 20 year old electronic producer and visual designer consistently releases art that is seemingly impossible to briefly characterize. After being offered via Twitter DM by the one-and-only FlyLo to have his music released through the LA-based Brainfeeder, the British musician gave us Chinese Nü Yr in 2015. The album showcased to the world his anomalous ability to chop samples in a glitch-heavy fashion that has proved impossible to ignore. Each song on the record possesses more content and sounds than found in most full-lengths— captivating from start to finish, the listener is taken on an absolute journey in just four normal length songs.
My only real complaint with Chinese Nü Yr is that I felt it lacked a bit of cohesion, which makes sense given the hyper-kinetic, maximalist style of the release. This was outweighed, however, by the content found within the songs themselves— somehow both organized and erratic, I was blown away by the sense of melody that Iglooghost was able to showcase. This combined with its structurally unpredictable yet sensible nature left me ardently anticipating his surely captivating future releases. So, when it was announced that his debut full-length, Neō Wax Bloom, was forthcoming, I was both excited and nervous, as I was eager to hear Malliagh’s newest work, but worried it would fall short of his earlier releases.
A little background on the album— in a tweet in which he rhetorically asked “WHAT IS AN IGLOOGHOST?” we are presented with a premise as curious and intriguing as Malliagh himself. He tells us that an Iglooghost is a “Little God,” which is the third and final stage in an evolutionary cycle that must first take the forms of a baby and witch. All is well on their planet until two “giant eyeballs” fall from the sky and “freeze” this cycle, after which the beings have three options: running, fighting, or plotting. This transformative event is called Neō Wax Bloom.
Bearing all this in mind, I was eager to delve into this world, and about three tracks into Neō Wax Bloom, I remembered why I was so drawn to Iglooghost in the past— with as much sporadic, sudden movement as before but with a newfound sense of cohesiveness, I was relieved. Thunderous, sprightly 808s interacting with often flirtatious, playful melodies filled my ears. Chipmunked vocals ran from left to right, daring the listener to keep up. At moments, it felt like I had just consumed 11 cups of coffee and was given access to a trampoline. Layers upon layers of tones, textures, and timbres create a palette so dense that the listener is given a capacious amount of material to digest. This LP contains the naivety of a child but the sophistication of a professor.
One thing that has always impressed me with Malliagh’s releases is how he is somehow able to retain a proper sense of melody in his tracks despite their chaotic, seemingly desultory nature. Combining elements of trap, IDM, juke, footwork, electronica, and more, this album goes right when you think it’s about to go left, yet does so in a way that, despite its unpredictability, makes perfect sense. “Sōlar Blade”, for example, with what sounds like a grime vocal pitched up into oblivion, allows the instrumental beneath to fly freely, taking me on an aural rollercoaster. “Infinite Mint”, on the other hand, which is a bit slower than most of the tracks on the record, is built around the delicate vocals of cuushe. This piece demonstrates Iglooghost’s ability to dial things back a bit and rely on a more traditional sense of melody, yet at the same time keep things fresh and distinct. The way the 808s interact with the vocal lines allow the listener to be transfixed in a state of awe. Songs such as “Göd Grid” made me wonder how Iglooghost he managed to maintain such control whilst going at such high speeds. It’s like if I were able to consistently drive a car at 140 miles per hour with no loss of command at the wheel.
In a way, Neō Wax Bloom demonstrates the power of childhood and creativity. Personally, the album represents an escape— I am taken to the mythical world of Mamu, aided by a forward-thinking, illustrative conception of sound. The somewhat playful and lighthearted yet densely detailed and serious nature of the artist’s art can be found in his music as well. Iglooghost appears to me as an artist who values fun, but does so in a way that allows him to gain inspiration and generate creativity.