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Critical Voices: Cashmere Cat, Wedding Bells

February 13, 2014


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On his sophomore EP, Wedding Bells, Magnus August Høiberg, better known by his stage name, Cashmere Cat, gets cold feet. The bold, dancy breakbeats and the sliding, bass-heavy drops characteristic of Cashmere Cat’s first EP are replaced by twinkly, rattly percussive elements, and half-hearted drops that leave the listener yearning for more. Despite the Norwegian producer’s musical timidity, this four-song EP holds moments of excellence when Cashmere Cat gives his tracks room to expand into the dancefloor masterpieces that he is known for.

 

The lead track, “With Me,” starts slow with a soft keyboard progression, but is quickly built up with a Crystal Castles-esque gritty synth line and a plethora of tapping percussion breakbeats. Nowhere on the EP is Høiberg’s restraint more evident than in this song, which slowly builds to a peak, as the drum line intensifies and distorted vocal samples layer on the synth and keyboard lines beneath. Having brought the listener to the edge of their seat, Cashmere Cat doesn’t offer a blow-out release, but rather a pauses and treks back down the mountain the same way he climbed it.

 

“Rice Rain,” the EP’s final song, falls similarly short as Høiberg fails to release the intricate crest of the building track, ending the brief EP with frustratingly unresolved dynamics. Despite this drawback, this final track holds a delightful, finger-snapping groove, which almost makes up for Høiberg’s coyness. The track starts with a light synthesized harp riff and these layers—heavy synth, distorted vocals, and keyboard lines—mirror the initial tune. The harmonious lines eventually drop off leaving nothing but a hard-hitting electronic drum kit and a glassy keyboard line to hold the tune.

 

The groove found in “Rice Rain” is Cashmere Cat’s defining element and is evident in every track, despite their shortcomings. “Wedding Bells” is a cacophonous jumble of drums, bells, and rattles but holds its form and its remains musically interesting because of the swing of its synthesized woodwind section and supporting keyboard progression. The slow vibe of the piano line and the synthesized lines mirroring the progression give direction to the incomprehensible jumble of rattles and clanks, making for an enjoyable listen.

 

Høiberg’s second release is a clear departure from his first EP. He hasn’t abandoned the lilting danciness that has become his signature style, but this groove loses its allure as Cashmere Cat’s dynamics are overly timid and the EP’s percussion is jumbled and confusing. On the Wedding Bells EP, Cashmere Cat fails to commit to his track’s dynamism, abandoning the listener at the altar.

Voice’s Choices: “Wedding Bells,” “Rice Rain”



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