Code I – Phosphenia

8 Production
7 Composition
9 Mood
7 Instrumentation

Code I has always been, to me, like an old friend. I could always rely on his music to come through for me, even if it was something I hadn’t heard yet. One of my all-time favorite one-man projects, consistently releasing quality material. And ‘Phosphenia’ is no different.

The name itself comes from Phosphene, which is light you ‘see’ when your retinas are excited, like when you push them through closed eyelids, or when you rub your eyes. It’s appropriate, since some of the songs are like the soundtrack to the first moments after waking up. You’re still dreamy, yet alive. You rub your eyes, and see an artificial and ethereal light from your own mind. Life is full of small but beautiful moments, and I believe that’s what this album is about, as well.

RELEASE DATE: 20 September 2016 LABEL: Self-released

Throughout the album, you might notice a sort of theme. Each individual song consists of pretty basic post-rock instrumentation and structure, but most of the songs will introduce an unusual or unexpected layer of sound, like hand drums, an extra touch of keyboards, or reverberated instruments. All of them reaffirm their grip on your attention, and they’re all my favorite moments throughout the album. It’s sad that these moments don’t last longer, or even perpetuate through the whole song. Despite how short the bursts of weirdness show, they still add character to each track, like each track is the same cake with different frosting. I just want the weirdness to seep through more than just a moment at a time. He needs to embrace his inner weird, and I think it would really make Code I really become a household name among one-man bands.

The instrumentation is solid, just like everything else in this review will be. He has a strong sense of what each instrument should be doing, he has ideas in his head that are clearly executed exactly how he wants them. The midi drums are well-disguised under echoes and proper mixing, and it’s probably the best fake drums I’ve ever heard. Code I’s true strength is obviously the Guitars, and there are some times when the Bass gets a good share of the spotlight, but I feel like it gets lost in the mix every now again, like it’s following the guitars a little too closely.

Phosphenia’s composition is probably the most improved aspect of Code I’s sound. The album as a whole feels more cohesive than earlier material, and the use of sampled speeches truly adds a huge emotional aspect to ‘Magoa In Red’, which is hands down my favorite track on this album. The way he bounces back to mellow moods after intense sequences is smooth, the buildup isn’t painfully obvious but it’s not just a flip of the switch. Every bit of this album shows thoughtfulness to the listener, presenting a more mature Code I than we’ve ever seen before.

Like I said, Code I is like an old friend to me, and he’s yet to let me down. With magic moments of taking chances with different sounds, stepping out of his comfort zone, he’s made a very memorable album. It’s not all pushing the envelope or anything cutting edge, but it’s remarkably well done and should be noted as one of the stronger releases of an already massive year for post-rock.

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