Stereo Stickman’s Exclusive Interview With Bruce Cohen

If you haven’t yet explored Bruce Cohen’s latest album Four BC, you most certainly should. The story behind it is a unique and interesting one, but more importantly – the music is well worth taking the time out to experience.

We caught up with the artist behind it all for an in depth chat about creativity, inspiration, touring, the future of electronic music, and much more.

Here’s how it went ► http://www.tarockmusic.com/stereo_stickman__bruce_cohen_interview/

(A free mp3 of “Seen” can be downloaded at the end of the interview.)

Bruce Cohen’s “Four BC”. . . .”gives nods to shows like Twin Peaks and Stranger Things.”

Kicking off with opening track ‘Haus’, Bruce Cohen’s latest release Four BC hits out hard with a fierce beat that grabs the attention immediately.  Without much hesitation, we are sent headfirst into a dizzying spiral of woozy ambient samples and an intoxicating melody made up of swirling glacial notes.  There’s a slight tone of dread sitting beneath it all, while Cohen’s production keeps things wide and airy at the same time.  His music builds gradually, adding various new elements to the mix as it progresses, constantly growing and holding the attention.

The underlying darker tones are maintained as we are led into ‘Luna’, with its sparse atmospheric pads that heave and groan under their own weight, giving a nod towards the soundtracks of shows like Twin Peaks and Stranger Things.  Those earlier glacial notes return, adding contrast and atmosphere, with a sense of space that really pulls the listener in.  As it develops, it becomes all embracing, reaching out and wrapping the listener into its own carefully constructed world of sonic mystery. Where are we being taken?  Will we make it out alive?  This is when the confident beat of ‘Lost’ kicks in, and we now find ourselves in an utterly alien landscape.  Tones fly back and forth like an extraterrestrial language, trying to communicate but we are here without a translator.

Once you have made it a few tracks in to Four BCyou’ll begin to feel at home.  It’s like being transported to another world but it’s not scary or overwhelming.  Rather, it is entirely welcoming, where the listener is invited to relax and engage on whatever level they might feel able.  It’s not the kind of ambient music where you can totally check out and let it wash over you – although it could quite easily serve that purpose – because there is so much going on that it really demands close attention and inspection.  Sounds shift and change, never staying still but constantly evolving and reforming into new throbs and washes.

Whenever there has been a moment where things feel like they are really winding down (‘Rise’), suddenly we are headlong into a new sequence which takes us in a whole other direction (‘Seen’).  In many ways Four BC is like being invited to a huge mansion and given the freedom to wander around to investigate its many rooms.  As you begin to do so, you realize that every room is totally different with new things to discover.  And further still, you begin to realize that each room has something in common with all the others.  There is a plan here, Cohen has very carefully constructed a sequence of spaces that are totally consistent yet always offering something new.  As a result, the album sits somewhere between chilled out ambient and cerebral EDM, making it the kind of record that can be listened to in a range of settings and for different listening purposes. It’s relaxed, but won’t send you to sleep.  It’s engaging, but won’t exhaust you either.

• Chris Marsh • CrossRadar 

 

                          

 

The Ark Of Music Reviews Bruce Cohen’s Album FOUR BC

He’s shared the stage with such acts as The Police, Blondie, and The Ramones. His music has been featured in major film as well as stage theater. He’s written and performed with multiple bands, and on his own. Perhaps you do not know his name, but you’ve likely heard something he’s done, as Bruce Cohen has been at this music thing for some time now.

While his previous band collaborations have produced punkish classic-rock (The Reds) and psychedelic jazz (Big Fun 3), Cohen, on his down time, has been quietly amassing a small library of electronica:  2009’s One BC, 2011’s Two BC, 2015’s Three BC, and of course his most recent effort for which we are gathered here today, Four BC.

However, this song smith’s newest project was produced in a far from typical manner. Rather than recording in the usual and customary fashion, Cohen decided to record the album live, with little to no overdubs, and no edits whatsoever. And, just for an added twist, each song was held to a four-minute time-frame in honor of this fourth installment to the BC series. Let me give you just a bit of a spoiler . . . it worked.

Here’s what we dug most…

Opening with Haus, BC builds a compelling rhythm, bass-line, and multiple layers of synthesized sounds, all the while a contrasting and somewhat divergent key riff loops in the background. As the melodies and layers build and fuse, I kept waiting for said divergent key riff to get old…it did not. Well done first track, he’s clearly a pro.

Straight out of some—as of yet—unwritten Sci-Fi film score, Luna is an ambient, percussion-less ocean of sound expanding in all directions, which reminded me of Ridley Scott’s 2012 film, Prometheus.

Seen is like something you might hear over an epic medieval battle sequence. The composition is suspenseful as inner, core rhythm and synth features drive on while ambient layers of sound arise from the exterior. This track is  compelling and inspirational. (See video, and download a free mp3 on SoundCloud.)

In keeping with Four BC’s Sci-Fi theme, Pawn is a spacey rave/dance track that could simultaneously make the cut for both your “chill” and “weekend” playlists.

Our Favorite Track:
Capping-off this 12-track experience with Well, I must tell you, this is exactly what I wanted in a final track. The album has its light and its dark, its peaks and valleys, and as strange as it’s going to sound, I really wanted to leave this experience feeling refreshed. That said, ten seconds into this last piece, I knew it was going to make my all-time relaxation playlist (not an easy accomplishment). Combining gentle and subtly raw sound elements with a flute-like melody-line, Cohen closes the album in truly majestic fashion.

Like the ambient, symphonic soundtrack to someone’s fantasized, Sci-Fi life, Four BC is an adventurous, imagination-stirring, sonic experiment that is loaded with dynamic contrasts which alternate frequently between rhythm schemes that fit perfectly in the rave club sceneandformless, morphogenic clouds of free-form sound that can transport your being-ness to another time and place. And, with more or less flawless production, what we have with Cohen’s fourth solo effort is entirely satisfying.

Whose lovechild…?  Ambient electronica veterans Helios make a record with German composer Marc Streitenfeld.

Noah James Hittner & The Ark of Music Team 

BRUCE COHEN OFFICIAL WEBSITE                                  WATCH THE “SEEN” VIDEO

JamSphere Review: “Bruce Cohen’s Four BC is ambient music that favors abstraction and improvisation.”

JamsSphereBruce Cohen is a founding member of the Philadelphia band, The Reds®, who’s first self-titled produced by David Kershenbaum, showed the band’s impressive blend of Rick Shaffer’s guitar, and Bruce Cohen’s keyboards.  The album was supported with live appearances with such diverse acts as The Police, Joe Jackson, Blondie, The Ramones, The Psychedelic Furs, and Public Image.  Cohen’s solo projects include musical scores for theatrical productions and his electronic album series “One BC”, “Two BC,” “Three BC,” and now the latest 2017 album – “Four BC.”

The liner explains that on this recording, Bruce Cohen returned to his ‘ambient electronic roots, with the slightly added twist of totally improvising every song to fit a self-imposed four minute time frame, with little to no overdubs, and no edits whatsoever.’

Douglas Rushkoff notes in his book that “ambient music isn’t a set of particular sounds one listens to but a space in which one breathes.”  In “Four BC” the layers and washes of sound and music can be focused on or ignored, lazily mind-surfed or instead analyzed.

Never a trite “sound collage”, a problem which plagues so many in this genre, this album has moods, textures and rhythms that lend well to repeat listening.  So you can dig deep or soar to the shore with this exceptional work.

Come equipped with a truly open mind because “Four BC” is easy to dismiss without one.  As improvised music, it shouldn’t be surprising that one needs to experiment in finding the appropriate setting and circumstances for realizing its potential.

It may be as simple as using headphones in darkness; for others, it may need to be experienced in nature during a particular time of year.  But the genius is in there waiting for you.  If you can’t be bothered to put in the effort, then listen anyway as you’ll still find plenty to enjoy in terms of rhythms and sounds. It just more accurate listening is so much more rewarding.

I am a devout listener of ambient/electronic music, and when I played through “Four BC” for the first time, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, because I was so used to the mundane commercial tracks of mainstream artists.  I became instantly attuned to the vibrant, melodic vibrations and flowing wave-forms, and ethereal pings that instilled the vastness of space that was all beautifully, subtly and tastefully filled.

Frequencies are substituted for real soundscaping, as the tracks here, are evocative and extremely pleasant to listen to.  This is music that favors abstraction and improvisation, yet everything sounds well-planned out and accessible enough to hold your attention.

On the album “Four BC,” Bruce Cohen offers us more than mere sonic manipulation.  He looks beyond synth manuals and realizes music that is an inextricable weave of sound engineering, solitary reflection and ambient aesthetics.  Consider the album’s tracks as various degrees of emotion, lingering, and then shifting to another state.  For me, the musical subtlety of “Four BC” is in the impression left, rather than the story told.

∎ Rick Jamm — JamSphere MAGAZINE

fourbc_soundcloud

Tarock Music Releases Bruce Cohen’s “SEEN” Video

fourbc_artworkTarock Music has released a video of Seen track 5 on Bruce Cohen’s new album, Four BC.  

All of the pencil sketches in the video are the work of Cuban artist Emilio Sanchez (1921 – 1999) from his private collection created from 1940 to 1999.  His full biography can be read at The Emilio Sanchez Foundation. 

View “SEEN” on YouTube ► https://youtu.be/SwCTUP-_kM8

And, download a FREE mp3 of “SEEN” on SoundCloud  https://soundcloud.com/tarockmusic/seen-bruce-cohen

 

Tarock Music Releases Bruce Cohen’s “FOUR BC” Album

fourbc_artworkTarock Music has released Bruce Cohen’s 2017 album.

On FOUR BC Cohen returns to his ambient electronic roots, with the slightly added twist of totally improvising every song to fit a self imposed four minute time frame, with little to no overdubs, and no edits whatsoever.

Listen/Buy/ Full Tracks HERE

Download a FREE mp3 of “Seen” on SoundCloud

ALBUM LINER NOTES

 

“Blue Stomp is a polite, solid take on retro sci-fi vibes . . . “

NoiseShaftBruce Cohen’s track “Blue Stomp” is a polite, solid take on retro sci-fi vibes arranged into safe patterns of resilient trance fascinations.  The name of the game is chill, and no black holes worth inspecting are imminent this time, Miss Hawking.

Movement is sanely sacrificed for the establishment of mood.  A well sculpted, yet deliberately isolated sonic structure greets your senses both in the form of the intro, and in the form of the outro.  You are not organic, not machine, but something happened in between.  Optimal effect! A cool experiment on display, that has nothing to do with the subject matter other than the act of courting it from both ways.  Then the track is quick to reveal its character as being assembled from individually thought out parts, and surprises of baffling character are deliberately absent from the mix.

The organic musical backdrop itself is bare-to the-bone enough to summon the classic tint of video game culture as it was raging through the early ‘80’s and ‘90’s.  Did you ever type “Final Signal” and “Moody Breeze” yet into YouTube?  Those were, and still are fun themes, filled with a playfully soul-crushing sense of isolation and irrefutable doom, (trapped in open space comes to mind) moods akin to the one featured in “Blue Stomp” — read on to know more about it.

As hinted, the central melodic idea that ensues at the middle of the composition, invokes a retro sci-fi feel with enough charms in it to soak a pair of ears into it via two consecutive turnarounds.  Cohen’s creative conduct fortunately is experimentive enough to market the lead melody with a harmonious collision-pair on each repetitions, and a nice understanding of the operations of introspective retro sci-fi indeed is observable when the two lines are flirting with each other to the conclusion that you will be inevitably sucked into outer space, and you will have a terrible day indeed, but you still have time to make amends as a legitimate participant in the consciousness ecosystem.  Since the nature of the song is more of a chill-out character with a well established pulsation to it, the track ultimately arrives to its conclusion with the unchallengeable notion that the message was delivered through the more elegant simplicity on auditory display — and such is the case.

NOISE SHAFT BLOG

Download a FREE mp3 of BLUE STOMP on SoundCloud ► https://soundcloud.com/tarockmusic/blue-stomp

Watch the BLUE STOMP video on YouTube ► https://youtu.be/yzFIlmEpr-Y