Release Date: June 28th 2018
When thinking of the electronic, disco or psychedelic genres, it’s all-too-easy to envision a set of hook-laden three minute throwaways concerning the party lifestyle, often embellished with obscenely glossy production. Many artists operating within the genres place huge emphasis on collaboration, promotional strategies and working exclusively in a digital format. 25 year old Minnesota-based Tyler Rosenbohm has a different approach to these genres, choosing to focus on musical creativity and metaphysical themes with a strong emphasis on analog production. Operating under the name ‘T-Bohm’, Rosenbohm recorded his sophomore effort armed with a single sequencer, a handful of stringed instruments and a trusty Tascam 488. Over the course of its nine tracks, we gain a true insight into what kind of person Rosenbohm is; philosophical, authentic and immensely creative.
The title track ‘American Gothic’ serves as an intriguing start to the album, showcasing Rosenbohm’s psychedelic influences in full-force. Ambient, warping feedback pans across the mix whilst pounding toms maintain an ambiguous rhythm, leaving us to wonder where we’re headed next. An eerie synth line plays a tonally-ambiguous three note motif which comes to form the foundation for Rosenbohm’s spoken word vocal, based around the metaphysical aspects of water. The ambient feedback creeps in at key points of the track and it very much feels like you’re being granted a snapshot into the inner workings on Rosenbohm’s mind. This is clearly an album intended for the introspective and adventurous; a personality that Rosenbohm wears on his sleeve.
‘Yuppie Grah’ features an interesting combination of the grunge, slacker and progressive rock genres. Rosenbohm comments on the repetitive and restrictive nature of modern human life with ‘Awake and look into the mirror/And wait and hold off on your future’. The vocal is underpinned by a repeating four note bass riff. The repetitive nature of the riff matches the content of the lyrics perfectly, giving the track a real sense of the ‘Groundhog Day’ way of daily life many of us experience. His signature ambient feedback lines creep in towards the end of the track, before an extended fade out. I felt the fade out almost served as a sonic metaphor for death, bringing the metaphysical lyrical content full circle.
‘Sad!’ changes things up with a strong electronica feel; 80’s-sounding synth lines are carefully underpinned by a looping drum pattern. The reverberated and delayed production on the vocals made the lyrical content somewhat difficult to decipher, but I believe this may have been intentional. The track features a great dropout section towards the end, stripping things back to a single synth and building back up with fragments of the other melodic ideas explored through the track. The six minute epic ‘Dunes’ continues to make use of Rosenbohm’s electronic influences, opening with an extended ostinato synth pattern before a hard-hitting drum pattern and wah-wah guitar line kick in. The guitar work on this track is excellent, demonstrating some well-executed complex runs derived from the work work of guitarists such as Eddie Van Halen and Slash.
The instrumental track ‘Live’ brings a classic disco flavour to the album. Particular praise goes to the track’s mixing, which sees an impressive use of automated EQ adjustment in the synth lines. Whist the track has much more of a structured pop feel than a lot of the other material on the album, it’s embellished with eerie and dissonant synth overdubs, which retain the overall ambient and ambiguous feel. ‘Rat Race’ showcases some interesting delayed lead guitar lines underpinned by a bass-heavy lead synth line. The main backing track features very dry and tight production, which serves as a solid foundation for the delayed lead guitar work to sweep across the top of the mix without allowing the track to become muddy or unclear.
The short interlude ‘Warped’ brings back some of the eerie and ambient material explored in the opening track. Overlapping counterpoint synth ideas are accompanied by a sweeping synth sample that’s reminiscent of gusts of wind. At this point I begin to wonder how the material would best work in a live setting. As much of the material is either eerie and ambient or electronic-orientated, I think the visual aspect of his live performances could be a real selling point. Using the more ambient tracks as transition points for the show and accompanying them with video footage or choreography would make for an incredibly convincing performance, providing an effective visual representation of music’s mood and atmosphere. Additionally, mood-relevant lighting and a signature dress code would go hand-in-hand with Rosenbohm’s metaphysical lyrical content.
‘Voyager’ introduces some dubstep-influenced material as well as a slightly different vocal delivery than previously seen. Rosenbohm delivers his lyrics in a half-sung-half-rapped manner and intersperses the verses with some well-executed synth runs. The fantastic advantage of writing music in this particular style is that it truly opens up the floodgates to experimentation and pushes the creative limits; something that may be more restricted when writing in a run-of-the-mill pop or rock style. Rosenbohm wrings this advantage for everything it’s got across the album, making use of a wide range of different samples, melodic ideas, genres and formal structures. The album rounds off with another six minute epic, ‘Sun Soaked’. Particular praise goes to the bassline on this track, which does a fantastic job of carrying the main melodic material whilst holding down a strong groove for the free-flowing vocal and guitar lines. The track has much more of a chill-out vibe to it and serves as a nice conclusion to an album that is both intellectually-stimulating and attention-grabbing throughout.
Overall, the sophomore effort from T-Bohm carries a real sense of authenticity and sincerity. It’s clear Rosenbohm makes music for himself first and foremost instead of attempting to reach a large target audience, which I firmly believe is what creating music should be all about. The album carries strong metaphysical themes and can often demand your full attention which is exactly how ambient, electronic and psychedelic influenced music is supposed to be. Rosenbohm explores the full capacity of his sound and showcases a real talent for composing, arranging and lyric writing. Highly recommend for any fans of electronica, ambient, disco or psychedelia.