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A lot can happen in eight years.  In cyberspace, it’s nearly a lifetime.  Looking back, we might consider Facebook’s launch or Google going public to be milestones of the world-wide-web in 2004.  Okay, maybe that’s not what comes to mind (although those events did happen).  But In terms of music, readers of Netlabelism might be more interested in what was going on in the netlabel scene.  The focus of this article is on an album from that year which in my opinion has – thus far – stood the test of time.

Paranerd (aka Paul Coguen), from New Brunswick, Canada, has a modest but impressive repertoire of releases.  A fitting introduction to his work, and the subject of this review, is Cold Reflect, released in October 2004 on the now inactive One netlabel.  For years, there have been literally thousands of pieces of music produced and released via the netlabel scene.  Labels such as One, Thinner, and Rohformat (R.I.P.) helped set the standard for high quality netaudio early in the last decade.  Still, Cold Reflect cuts through the chaff and continually moves me even after several years.

The first track, “Caught In Your Tumble,” is a fair introduction to what the listener may expect throughout the album.  It is light, pensive, and crisp – very much like a sunny, snow-coated winter morning in Canada.  Not only does Paranerd’s music likely echo his surroundings, it also resonates with a decisively low-bit and nostalgic sound; yet it’s not overdone.  Although we hear a reference to Paranerd’s own influences in the album, he maintains a sound uniquely his own.

“Slumber Lovers” is perhaps the most distinguishable piece on the album and the one I’ve come to identify with the most.  It sets a lucid tone, like the moments in early morning waking dreams, half awake and half asleep.  Rhythmically speaking, there are many interesting moments on the album.  The seventh track, “Too Mushroom,” is particularly worth noting for its time signature: 5/4.  Although there is no shortage of ‘odd’ time signatures across the broader catalogue of netaudio out there, Paranerd’s use of it here is well placed and demonstrates his crafty style of musical composition.  “Too Mushroom” recaptures the listener’s interest near the end of the album with a keen repetition of melody and harmony such that the 5/4 time is nearly indiscernible.

Overall, Cold Reflect is an album you will definitely appreciate if not totally love.  So what’s Paranerd been up to lately?  Thankfully he still releases occasional music under the same moniker.  You can follow him on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.   [NC]

Paranerd – Slumber Lovers
slumber lovers

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