If you’re looking for an album about the ascension of a 3,000-year-old interdimensional god and a time-traveling assassin all set in an imaginary language, look no further than Iglooghost’s dual EPs “Clear Tamei” and “Steel Mogu.”
There’s a lot to say about Iglooghost — here it is succinctly: He’s an English electronic music artist named Seamus Malliagh. He was born in a rural town and found entertainment on the internet, where he started making art and music on forums. He tries to make every single bar unique. His music focuses on a magical – but real – world called Mamu that’s in a true rut due to one of its god’s eyes rolling out of its head. Asked about his biggest inspirations in a Reddit AMA, he replied, “TRYING TO GET THE FUCK OFF THIS PLANET.”
Add that up and you get punchy and rapid music that is at the same time melodic, moody, and oddly danceable; you get intensely technical music that sounds off the cuff; you get a sound no artist has.
“Clear Tamei” and “Steel” Mogu” are a continuation of that sound. “Clear Tamei” was an improvement, and “Steel Mogu” was a small step in a direction I didn’t like as much. Overall, both EPs still have the beautiful contrast and worldbuilding only Iglooghost creates.
“Clear Tamei” takes place 3,000 before the events of “Neo Wax Bloom,” Iglooghost’s previous album, and tells the story of a translucent being’s reluctant rise to godhood. “Steel Mogu,” tells the story of the assassin from 3,000 years in the future that wants to kill Tamei before Tamei can become a god and then lose its eyeballs and cause the trouble in “Neo Wax Bloom.”
Their sounds match their characters, “Clear Tamei” given a regal and heavenly sound and “Steel Mogu” given an aggressive and rapid-fire sound. While the EPs don’t communicate a clear plot since their lyrics are in a strange language (Iglooghost has made the alphabet), they do communicate setting, mood, and character.
In the case of Iglooghost, that’s pretty important. Much like “Neo Wax Bloom,” these two EPs hit Seamus’s goal of getting the fuck off this planet. They set such an alien atmosphere that they feel like a rocketship ticket to elsewhere.
Being dual EPs, it’s tricky to figure out how to take them both on. Iglooghost sees them as separate experiences, but Iglooghost’s sound is so recognizable that I feel it all blends together decently. It’s a bit like making a playlist of different Mongolian folk bands, or another brand of world music. I listened to the EP back to back and they work, the end of “Clear Tamei” fitting well with the start of “Steel Mogu.”
As separate experiences, “Clear Tamei” felt like the better EP. “Clear Tamei” benefitted from a smoothness that has a pleasant contrast to Iglooghost’s fast, break heavy, beat and tempo shift heavy style. The dynamics and melodies move like water sieve, straining out old elements and adding new ones in cleanly.
“Clear Tamei” gets a pleasant and light sound from choral vocals, xylophone-like chimes, chirping birds, the babbles and cries of babies, and a generally higher pitch. Songs are still fast and intensely shifting but motifs feel regular and the movement from one rhythm to the next feels cohesive.
“Shrine Hacker” is my favorite track across both EPs for how it makes near 8 minutes of song fly by smoothly. The best moment of the EP for me is when the beat from the intro track, “Paleo Mamu,” resurfaces in “Shrine Hacker” and becomes the springing point for the final movement of the EP.
“Steel Mogu,” on the other hand, goes hard. Iglooghost gives it a downright frenetic energy with speedy synths, record scratches, 808s, diced up vocal mini-samples like machinegun rattles. I enjoyed and respected “Steel Mogu” for how hard it went, but it felt overwhelming at times and its melodies didn’t always blend well.
“Mei Mode” captured the trouble for me, having lots of cool ideas that came together with a bit too much dissonance for my taste. Dissonance works as an aesthetic to “Steel Mogu,” but one of my favorite parts of Iglooghost’s music is how it walks a line between intensity and ease. Iglooghost’s songs can have a BPM to beat out breakbeat and rhythm shifts to outmatch progressive rock but there’s often a smooth line of transitions that makes everything clean and fluid. With “Steal Mogu,” that line didn’t feel as smooth, and the EP didn’t feel as fluid. There wasn’t as much contrast.
Contrast is a really big part of why I love Iglooghost’s music. Iglooghost albums are rife with smooth and hard sounds, high and low pitches, beat changes and consistent motifs, and so on. It’s in the DNA of the project too. Being designed to get off the planet, Iglooghost’s music ends up deeply invested in it. Seamus distorts audio from his father and sister to make tracks and his bar-by-bar style has to take lots of effort. It’s an earthling affair.
The contrast creates a balance. Iglooghost’s music is fast and harsh, but smooth and pleasant, imaginative and strange, but grounded and familiar. “Steel Mogu” had less balance to it, but both EPs still have the balance and the storytelling that make Iglooghost the powerfully strange and loved artist he is.
Clear Tamei: 9.5/10
Steel Mogu: 8.5/10