Hello Cosmos: Golden Dirt
CD/ Cassette/ DL
Hello Cosmos return with an eclectic mixtape, Golden Dirt. Andy Brown shares his thoughts for Louder Than War.
Lockdown was difficult for many yet for some it acted as an artistic catalyst; the enforced isolation created a kind of Andy Dufresne moment for Hello Cosmos. As Tim Robbins’ character in The Shawshank Redemption so eloquently put it, it was time to get busy living or get busy dying. Of course, you could also just bake some banana bread and re-watch Breaking Bad. Thankfully, Ben Robinson decided to throw himself wholeheartedly into music. Golden Dirt is the inspired and wonderfully idiosyncratic result. Having only just released their debut LP earlier this year (the triumphant Dream Harder), Hello Cosmos appear to be on something of a roll.
No man is an island and Robinson’s thirst for collaboration expands the Hello Cosmos sonic palette even further. Musicians from Cumbria, Leeds, Manchester, London, Seattle, Kampala-Uganda and the Republic of Congo all appear on the album. The final dusting of musical magic was added by San Francisco-based producer The Olchemist aka Oliver Linton Brown. Brexit may have attempted to bring up the borders and make our world a little smaller but Hello Cosmos continue to greet the universe with wide-open arms.
Golden Dirt starts with the brilliantly bouncy, From The Ground Up. An elastic, electronic groove that finds Robinson down some kind of metaphysical warren, “chasing white rabbits”. Laced with humour and clever turns of phrase; the track recalls the longing we all had to see our friends during the frustratingly isolating days of lockdown. The line about appearing on the news in his underwear is a nod to Robinson’s day job as the man behind two unique UK festivals, Kendal Calling and Bluedot. This is a man that lives and breathes music and that comes through on the labyrinth of sounds and influences that inhabit Golden Dirt. An album so eclectic they called it a mixtape.
Hard Enough To Start With finds Robinson venting, “it’s like a web of bullshit on top of the usual bullshit/ I’m emotionally fucking drained”. A highly relatable tale driven by a propulsive and brilliantly addictive bassline. The casual, almost conversational vocal style puts me in mind of The Streets while the music continues to push things forward. Plus, there’s something immensely satisfying about hearing someone holler, “what a load of fucking codswallop!” It’s the kind of off-the-cuff, seemingly spontaneous outburst we used to hear from the much-missed Mark E Smith.
Summer Will Come delivers drum ‘n’ bass beats and a hypnotic, head-nodding loop; it may just be the track we need to get us through the winter. The music blends beautifully with Robinson’s lethargic yet determined drawl, “summer will come…it always does”. Golden Dirt laughs in the face of disaster while offering up some much-needed sonic escapism. The album takes things up a gear or two with the vibrant party starter, Loud Is Beautiful. Robinson’s motivational lyrics are further elevated by Yorkshire-based saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Elara and Seattle-based MC, Telle. “I had to blow up the past” sings Robinson as he explains the band’s ethos, “to start the future”.
All The Trimmings is a brief instrumental that sounds like Christmas in space while Dark Nation delivers yet another album highlight. A collaboration with Gaza Princes, Hibotep and Ray Sapiens that wouldn’t sound out of place on an album by The Bug. Dark Nation is a crucial slab of driving hip-hop propelled by throbbing bass and some incredible bars delivered by the guest MC’s. Golden Dirt tackles the world head-on, always pushing for something better. The world is fucked they tell us but we’re not about to take it lying down. The defiantly noisy Metaverse couldn’t put it better, “it’s time to stand up and give a fuck!”
The Only Way Out Is Through comes rolling in next; mixing sci-fi blues with post-punk and big beat bombast. A collaboration with Georgina Buchanan, We Are Greater is an ode to Manchester that feels like a reassuring arm over your shoulder. “We are stronger today/ we are greater/ we have risen above” they sing over the slow-burning catharsis before asking one simple, yearning question, “when will I see you at the pub?” Live Music, It’s Who We Are is an ode to Robinson’s livelihood and an anthem for music lovers everywhere. The guitars evoke the mighty Pavement while the sentiment really hits home. The album ends with the spine-tingling euphoria of the title track as Robinson reminds us, “me and you/ we’re golden dirt/ we’re champions of the hurt”.
Golden Dirt is an adventurous and playful project that finds Hello Cosmos head honcho Ben Robinson gleefully exploring every musical inclination that comes to mind. The rock influences on the band’s debut, Dream Harder, have been toned down and swirled into a melting pot of inspirations from hip-hop and pop to dance-inducing electronica. It’s a gamble that pays off in spades as the album revels in its eclecticism like a well-constructed mixtape should. Collaboration, connection and the universal power of music fill every second of Golden Dirt with joi de vive. Hello Cosmos are chasing white rabbits all the way to Wonderland and they want you along for the ride.
You can buy Hello Cosmos music from Bandcamp HERE.
All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.