Amidst the turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cosmos Island’s new EP Someplace offers its listeners an escape to a psychedelic dreamland. Someplace is an eclectic mix of ‘60s psychedelic rock and ‘80s synth pop with a modern indie rock flair with songs centered around finding a personal escape during difficult times. The first track, “Winston Meet Julia,” explicitly outlines this desire for freedom with the lyrics “Some people may dislike our conversation / But this is how we can escape.” Someplace is sonically complex, featuring disjunctive song structure with unexpected key changes and percussive variations.
For example, the verses in “Bring Me Up” use acoustic instruments and a straight rhythm, while the pre-chorus features a synthesizer playing jazz chords in a swing rhythm. The unpredictability of the melodic changes gives the song an uncanny feeling—as soon as the listener becomes comfortable with the melody, it takes a 180-degree turn. Someplace is an exciting listen, crossing a multitude of genres and musical eras without getting too comfortable with one specific style.
In an interview with The McGill Tribune, Cosmos Island’s Dan Desjardins spoke about his inspirations for his record.
“I listen to a lot of sixties music […] and I wanted to mix that with […] a phosphoric new wave style, so I kind of work it out like this, but everytime I try to make something [specific] it always [becomes] something else,” Desjardins said. “The sound that came out of this was like some kind of experiment.”
Desjardins explained that he does not identify his artistry with one specific genre of music. Many songs on the album offer a sense of sentimentality for the surf-rock style that artists like the Beach Boys are known for. “Winston Meet Julia” starts with a bright riff on a synthesizer that gives the song a dreamy feel, which softly melds into a blend of electric guitar and muted drums. The first track lays out the sonic themes of the EP, incorporating psychedelic elements that give the listeners a feeling of being transported back to a 1960s hallucinogenic dreamland.
Cosmos Island also uses sound production to imitate non-musical sounds in a descriptive way. “Sure Thing” starts off sounding as though a helicopter is landing, further cementing the illusion of being transported someplace.
Someplace features an impressive variety of instruments, allowing Cosmos Island to achieve a unique sound that pulls from a variety of genres. The percussion instruments provide a steady base, while the synthesizers add colourful ornamentation throughout the songs. As Someplace is Desjardins’ first solo project, he explained that he had to play each instrument himself and recorded the entire EP in his basement. Desjardins elaborated on his solitary recording process.
“I go instrument by instrument, song by song,” Desjardins said. “I never record two songs at the same time, which I was doing in the past and it never came out correctly. If it sounds good in my head, I keep it.”
While the pandemic derailed some of Desjardins’ plans to promote the album, such as performing physical shows, it has given him more time to make new music. Desjardins’ production process was not heavily affected by working in isolation, but his feelings of melancholy became more pronounced in his lyrics. “Bring Me Up” conveys a relatable feeling of loneliness and confusion: “Double feature on the screen / I want to see and I want to leave / But I don’t have nowhere else to go / So I just stay here, waiting for the show / And it’s really getting weird today / And it’s hard to breath, it’s hard to say.”
“The idea was to make the album and then find other people to make some shows with it,” Desjardins said. “Right now it’s going to be difficult, so I’m working on a second EP which will probably come out next summer.”
Someplace successfully combines a variety of musical genres and eras to create a unique sound. Through Desjardin’s deft lyricism and psychedelic sound production, Someplace provides a sonic escape, making this a wonderful record to enjoy from the confines of a bedroom.