Coma ‘In Technicolor’ (Kompakt)

There’s techno, there’s pop, and then there’s these guys from Cologne

Techno tinged pop hybrids Coma first arrived on the Cologne scene in 2007, when they played at Total Confusion and left with the accolade ‘best gig since 1998’. Two EPs were released on the Firm label before a swap to Kompakt for a further four EPs brings us to ‘In Technicolor’, their debut album. It has much to live up to.

Never seemingly satisfied, Coma duo Marius Bubat and Georg Conrad engage through diversity, a trait reflected in their back catalogue. The malleable basslines on ‘Embargo’ didn’t readily advertise the wistful vocoders on ‘Reprise’, while the sunlit warmth of ‘Playground Altona’ hardly hinted at the busy dance ethos of ‘Hanoi’.

And so to ‘In Technicolor’ and a theme emerges – that of colourful experiences enacted by monochrome characters. The glorious robotic stomp of album opener ‘Hoooooray’ exemplifies this, an automated celebration of downtempo dance, while ‘Les Dilettantes’ is a showy façade of colour filtered by monotone vocals. 

Elsewhere, there are hints of techno and electropop aplenty. In favour of the former, ‘Cycle’, a steadily intensifying loop of energy that travels through darkened vistas, the quirky piano riffs of ‘Out Of Control’ and ‘maximal MINIMAL’, a precisely named electro shuttle that crosses the road at the sight of pop. In favour of the latter, ‘Missing Piece’ re-ignites ‘Technique’ taste buds, ‘My Orbit’ unites sweeping layers of voice and synth, and ‘T.E.D.’ delivers a bassline last seen flagging down a taxi with Chris Lowe. Of all the tracks, ‘#’ seems best placed on our Venn diagram, the mechanised samples no indicator of automaton overlords, but rather a palpable sense of amicable melancholy. 

‘In Technicolor’ is an intriguing album and one that is true to the Coma blueprint. It rarely settles, oscillating between influences to create an engaging fusion of originality.

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