What Do You Mean You’ve Never Heard Of… Iglooghost

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Pascal Maguet writes about an artist he thinks you need to listen to.

The phrase ‘the future of music’ is a buzz phrase often batted around by music journalism to refer to whatever passing fade has caught their attention recently. However, I think the phrase is very suitable when talking about the music of 23-year-old electronic music producer Seamus Malliagh, aka Iglooghost. The caveat being when I say future, I mean at least 100 years into it. Pushing the limits of electronic music, akin to the likes of SOPHIE and Oneohtrix Point Never, this English musician was signed to the Flying Lotus-run Brainfeeder label when he was only 18. He is making some of the most interesting experimental music out there right now.

Energetic doesn’t quite cut it to describe his music. As the glitchy beat zooms along at around 200 bpm and a cacophony of synths, woodwind and heavily distorted vocals jump in and out of the track, it’s almost like you can feel the neurons in your brain fire off. Each, desperately trying to make sense of the auditory onslaught. That sentence alone will likely clue you into whether you’ll enjoy this music or not. A large proportion of people don’t enjoy music that feels like it’s attacking them, and many others prefer their songs to have some form of structure and melody, which Malliagh’s work generally lacks. His music is both alienating in a sense many will turn away from it almost immediately and that it sounds like aliens could have made it.

However, the sense of estrangement that comes with this music is what makes it appeal to me. A friend once told me he considered Iglooghost’s work more as soundscapes of abstract space than songs. There’s a lot more to that analogy than just trying to rationalise the esoteric sound of this music. Although you’d be forgiven for thinking the illustrated worms and strange triangular stick figures that populate Iglooghost’s cover art are just as seemingly random as his music, they actually have detailed lore behind them. They each tell stories of strange characters that exist in a conceptual world as weird as the music. Indeed the vinyl version of Iglooghost’s debut, Neō Wax Bloom, came with a 12-page comic depicting some of this and his gigs are very much audio-visual experiences rather than a more traditional electronic set. Malliagh has stated that all the work he creates tells the stories from this world, and has even suggested in interviews that he believes these characters are real.

Although understanding the inspiration behind this music may be reserved for the more dedicated fans of his music, Iglooghost has made it clear he makes music to be enjoyed regardless of how much you know. Besides, not realising the track Bug Thief is trying to tell the story of Uso from the misty planet of Mamu isn’t going to stop you from thinking it slaps.

On that note, 2017’s Neō Wax Bloom, the album containing Bug Thief, is a great place to start with Iglooghost, presenting one of his more balanced projects. However, you couldn’t go wrong with his twin contrasting EPs (much in the double release style of Pokemon) from 2018, Clear Tamei and Steel Mogu. Also, he’s recently teamed up with long-time friends and collaborators Kai Whiston and BABii to from the collective GLOO. They dropped a great new single called Lockii a week ago, which is worth a listen. Regardless of whether this music is ‘for you’ or not, I’d implore you to one track a listen. Even if you don’t like it, I doubt you’ll forget it anytime soon.

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