Smile Politely

Album Review: Coco Coca – Black, Black, Black

Danny, the one and only member of Coco Coca, should have named his new album “Space Country”, the eighth track off of Black, Black, Black. I can’t think of any other music I would prefer over Coco Coca for a spirited romp through the galaxy – except maybe the Metroid Prime score.

Samus Aran only shakes it to one kind of tune; the kind that involves high pitched electronic tones repeated over and over until killing space pirates is second nature. As if written especially for each level of the game, these high frequency tones show up in every song on Black, Black, Black. At times it’s annoying, as at the beginning of “Gusto” and “There’s A Snitch in My House.” They sound like someone’s attempt to recreate a Super Mario Bros. level. It only becomes interesting when the music becomes more complicated, drawing influences from Industrial Rock and Metal. I was often reminded of NIN and Death From Above 1979.

The bass guitar tends to keep everything together when electronic keyboard tones and gothic vocals resist any kind of melding. This is most evident in “Blood Is Thick;” a track that definitely could have gone without the cheap Scat Man tune. Indeed, I was least impressed when the techno fever seemed to hold too much of Coco Coca’s attention, as in “Uniform”, where the Metroid Prime theme first crept up.

There are, however, real moments of brilliance. “Space Country” begins with a spooky bell ringing on and on even as the bass comes in harder and harder, when out of the small crescendo emerges an excellent guitar piece that immediately conjures up the image of a gunslinger emerging from the dust of an old Western. Danny’s haunting voice works well here, leading everything to a deep, satisfying electronic conclusion.

Coco Coca may have moved from Champaign-Urbana to Seattle in search of a larger music community, but last time I checked that city is still on planet Earth. Unless Starbucks has some sinister plan to launch its headquarters into space, I think Danny would be better served keeping his ear pressed to the ground when crafting his potentially excellent music.

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