Omri Cohen – Cosmic Foundry

Omri Cohen is someone I heard of through his amazing Youtube channel in which he demonstrates, reviews and explains a lot of principles around modular synthesis.  He also posts the occasional performance and completed work.  It got me curious – had he released any albums?

The obvious answer, because you’re reading this – is yes.  Are they any good?  Also yes.

Cosmic Foundry is the first full-length album of his I had the chance to listen to, and it doesn’t disappoint.  I can’t quite place my finger on the ‘genre’ or ‘sub-genre’ that he’s going for, because this album is a melting pot of different elements fused together.  The sound is sometimes raw, but not in the way the music is badly mixed.  Far from it.  I guess another way to describe the sounds at times is ‘intense’.  Despite this, it’s not overbearing and very easy to listen to, and in some parts, to get lost in.

Track Listing

  1. Intro 04:23
  2. Melting Particles 08:39
  3. Furnace of Stars 08:21
  4. Molding Atoms 07:53
  5. Space and Time 05:40
  6. Outro 10:53

Intro, simply titled as such, is some nice ambience with modular manipulations fading in and out and around.  A good, clear start, but nothing super spectacular.  It’s just good.

Melting Particles starts a similar way, with haunting pads and tones arranged in an almost cinematic score fashion.  What comes in shortly after is a deep, retro-tinged sequence which I absolutely loved.  It provides a pace and direction to the aforementioned pads, as well as key shifts.  It grows with other sequences coming in and out, pulsing and flowing along.  Gradually building to a melancholic crescendo with a sustained solo sound reaching over the top.  Remember that description of sounds being intense earlier?  Well, this is one such sound.

Furnace of Stars is more of the same, but with a different vibe – this one has far less of the hollow melancholia of the previous track, and would be easily perceived as uplifting.  The sound design is subtly different, key shifts are more positive, and there’s a great feeling in this one.  It’s almost got a post-rock vibe to it.

Molding Atoms is a much more Berlin-school affair.  Classic synth pads, monotone sequences with lots of lovely modulation, and a solid bedding of organ-style sound design.  Very subtle shifts in the sequences provide interest here.  It moves towards a heavily distorted sound towards the end, but it’s so masterfully done you’re not immediately aware of it – I certainly wasn’t, given I just got lost in the sequencing of this track.

Space and Time is a slower sequenced affair, starting off with sequenced synths as opposed to the other tracks which begin with more pad-oriented entries.  There’s some complex timings going on with this, and shows a great skill in being able to shape and mould disparate sounds and rhythms together to a cohesive whole.  The haunting upper registers of sound compliment this as they come to the fore in the second half of the track, along with a more improvisational-sounding sequence. Very nice.

Outro, the final track (unsurprisingly), is a long, drawn out ambient/drone affair.  The sound design and modulation of it all rises and falls in a very natural, organic way.  Some really nice sounds are found in this track, along with that signature distortion heard from the earlier pieces.  It’s almost like this is the culmination of the ambient parts of the previous five tracks put together into something new.  It’s done in such a way that is fresh and well thought out.

Final Thoughts

I’ve listened to this album a few times now, and each time I’m amazed at the level of sound design and skill with which Omri can put together elements that on paper shouldn’t work.  He has a definite skill in using really intense sounds and distortion in ways that are equally calm and listenable.  Every time I listen to this album I’m taken on a journey, and when it ends I think I should listen to it again.  There’s so much going on here but it is also very approachable and crafted so well in structure I don’t get musically lost.  The only way I get lost in this is the more hypnotic sequencing that he employs on tracks like ‘Molding Atoms’.

Overall, great stuff.  My standout track is the haunting and melancholic ‘Melting Particles’, purely for the shifting sequencing and gradually building sounds.

Cosmic Foundry is available on Bandcamp.

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