REVIEW: Hora's Cocytus

When one thinks of the master producer that is Hora they automatically think of Schwarz Stein, the amazing duo that consists of both he and VK superstar Kaya. Unfortunately, not everyone knows of Hora the solo producer and if there were ever a good place to start with his discography, it's Cocytus.

1. Chamber of Fear
2. Frost
3. Babel
4. Cocytus
5. Pray to God -Doom-
6. My Vendetta
7. Underwater
8. Without Words
9. Winter Blood
10. Pray to God -Heir-

The music of not only Cocytus, but almost all of Hora's discography is "wordless sound poems" (to borrow from the episode of "Friends" with Ross's sound). This album opens with just such a track. "Chamber of Fear" is a reference to his studio as credited in the jacket of the album. The general composition here is classic Hora; it proves that the man not only has skills in producing hard-hitting dance music, but also in really beautiful productions that focus on string instruments and creating a melody and ambience instead of just a beat. The song as a whole, however, is too long. It's very close to 6 minutes in length when it could have stood to be around 4 minutes and had the same effect.

Following up is my personal favorite track of the album: "Frost." The song is a 4.5 minute trip to the clubs. A lot like "Moonrise" from his previous album, it has a lighter feeling than most of his work and is not only dance floor ready, but could definitely pass as a mainstream EDM hit. It begins and ends with gentle synths and when the beat drops it intensifies the synths and is definitely beat-centric.

"Babel" is sure to be a fan favorite. It harkens back to the first days of Hora's solo work and can definitely be compared to songs like "Modulate God" and brings forth the general message of this album: "Let there be light." This phrase is printed in the album jacket and is the only lyric on the album, sung by Hora himself. It's ironically a darker track with a heavy beat and deep synths. Spacey is a great word to describe title track "Cocytus." It creates this feeling of infinite space and time by combining all of Hora's best compositional skills into one 4.5 minute track. The opening synths will remind fans of some of his earliest work with trance music and then he begins to incorporate string instruments that are ever-present in his works. When the beat itself finally kicks in its mid-tempo, which is nice after the intensity of the previous tracks. It follows this formula through to the end, creating one of the slower, but more brilliant tracks on the album.

The album's center is part one of a two-part song, "Pray to God -Doom-" is an excellent dance song. The synths of which can be described as "Inner Universe"-esque with an uptempo beat paired with a piano-driven melody. It's so interesting because the actual elements of the song are all so genuinely different that you would think they don't work together and that you definitely wouldn't think of it as a hardcore dance song, but this is definitely bound to get you moving. "My Vendetta" is one of the shorter songs on the album at only 3.5 minutes and it's a good thing it is. While the general feel of the song (dark, moody, typical Hora) is excellent, it can become too repetitive in that the synths don't really change much throughout the song and the beat is basically exactly the same the whole time. It's an incredibly enjoyable song, but if it had gone on much longer it could have become too repetitive for its own good.

The album begins to slow down its speed around "Underwater." While it utilizes almost entirely synths to get its point across there is a semblance of a beat throughout. Generally speaking, we have a slow song without much of anything interesting going on. Could be nice background music, but primarily the track fades into the background of other songs that are much more well thought out. The aptly, yet redundantly named "Without Words" is how a mid-tempo song should be done. The beat itself is actually rather fast, but the surrounding synths are deeper and darker which slows the feel of the overall sound down. The only way I could see an improvement on this song is if he actually recorded lyrics to this song to make "Without Words" one of his few songs with words.

The second to last track is easily the slowest. The beat in "Winter Blood" is very slow, but present consistently through the whole track. This could be kind of a downfall of the song only because the other instrumentation which gives the track it's melody and intrigue comes and goes. There's just about everything featured on this song including piano, guitar, string instruments, etc. and they all come in different waves. This could have made it more interesting, but adversely it made the song seem disjointed and not arranged very well which comes as somewhat of a shock to me. However, the final song is the second part of the "Pray to God" songs, this one with the subtitle "Heir." This song is incredibly glitchy, which is to say that the synths (especially at the beginning) are erratic and very computerized, almost like a video game. After a small amount of that, a different synth kicks in that is very ambient and "spacey" as well. One can definitely see how this is a good follow-up or second part to the original "Pray to God" song, but with a less club-oriented beat, it's far more toned down creating the feeling of a ballad to end Hora's twelfth solo album.

Like I said previously, if there was any one album that I would recommend to non-fans who are interested in becoming fans, it would be Cocytus. This album is more mainstream in terms of sound than he's ever really done before as a solo artist. If you are so inclined, please purchase the album here on Hora's official website and enjoy!
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