Ben Robinson is a talented fellow. As well as being the mastermind behind some of the UK’s best music festivals (Kendal Calling and Bluedot), he’s also at the centre of the wildly inventive, and heavily subscribed collective that is Hello Cosmos. With previous studio contributions from over 50 collaborators, Hello Cosmos appear to be the anti Fall, with Robinson a benign, mirror-universe Mark E Smith type figure. Rather than going down Smith’s legendary taskmaster route of employing harsh words and the threat of E45s to create brilliant music, Robinson seems to revel in the act of creation with an ever expanding collection of like minded artists, and the results thus far on Hello Cosmos’s three releases to-date, have been mightily impressive.
With contributions on Run For President from a host of talents including James Smith (Cruel World and Post War Glamour Girls), Girl Sweat, Angela Chan (Tomorrow We Sail), Emma Mason (Galaxians and Lost Colours) and Jack Simpson (Hyde Park Book Club), can Hello Cosmos’s new EP continue this run of remarkable recorded output?
With drums throbbing like the mother of all migraines, the title track of Run For President Is an all-out assault on the senses. As funky as it is ear shatteringly LOUD, ‘Run For President’ tickles that part of the soul that wants to nod and noodle along to groovy bass lines, as well as jump around like an utter twat to screeching guitars. Robinson’s spoken word vocals are cut and paste bombs of unknown, but deeply unsettling meaning, and the honeyed Manc infused delivery only further adds to the unrelenting drama of it all. With an EP opener this good, Hello Cosmos can’t possibly keep up this standard can they? Can they??
Erm, no. If ‘Run For President’ is the aural equivalent of being waved at by the hand of god, next track, ‘Cosmic Trigger’, is like having treacle covered cat shit poked into your ears. Four minutes seems like an eternity, as wave after wave of muddy guitars and screeched vocals chip away at the the brain’s pleasure centres like demonic miners intent on removing all joy from your life. Fucking horrible.
Thankfully, things improve massively with ‘Frequency Fields’. Anthemic and life affirming, ‘Frequency Fields’ is everything that ‘Cosmic Trigger’ isn’t. With layers of jangly guitars that Johnny Marr would be proud of, and the refrain of “catch me I’m flying/catch me I’m flying/catch me I’m flying/and there’s no way down”, Robinson and co. have created a soundtrack for a never-ending/alternative reality summer. It’s a summer where Brexit is just a mad-bastard idea in the minds of the greedy, stupid and corrupt. Where Trump is a bankrupt ex TV ‘star’ and Prime Minister Jess Philips leads the UK with compassion and intelligence. Christ, it’s great that music can create such whooshes of adrenalised, daydreaming optimism, but the come-down into real life again is harsh.
It seems that Hello Cosmos have caught a case of the real-life blues as well on ‘Anyone is a King’. With a sense of aching melancholy, the track begins with mournful guitars and a choir of “arrr arrr a arrrs”. However, like the sun breaking through the clouds, more joy is injected into humanities collective earholes when Robison sings “talking to the great unknown/finding our way out of the dark/this is our time”. In combination with some top-notch strumming and thrumming, It’s one of those hairs-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck moments that don’t come along very often, but when they do, you know you’re in the presence of some extraordinarily talented fuckers.
Elsewhere on the EP is a remix of the title track by Jagz Kooner, which offers a radical, but wonderfully different take on the source material. Guitars and drums are swapped out for synthesised beeps and bloops, and the whole thing swooshes along in a manner that will leave you with a hankering for cheap speed, a bottle of off-licence cider, and a desire to be 18 again.
On Run For President, Hello Cosmos have once again thrown themselves into the furnace of experimental collaboration, and produced a set of songs that (with the exception of fucking ‘Cosmic Trigger’) excite, delight and bode well for future endeavours. Highly recommended!
Run For President is released on 4th July through Cosmic Glue Records