The Elusive and Abstract Cares and The ‘Coping Strategies’ EP.

Cares – Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Electronic Music, from it’s earliest beginnings to the present day, comes in a bewildering variety of forms, with sampling and synthesis opening up pathways for musicians that often simply aren’t possible in the analogue realm.

What sets apart Cares latest EP, Coping Strategies, however, is it’s lack of form throughout much of it’s running time. This is an EP that doesn’t take on it’s identify from it’s beat, as so much Electronic Music does, but instead focuses on building textures and moods with percussion or even melody largely absent.

Written, performed and produced by one James Beardmore, he describes his intent behind the EP:

‘It explores erosion of meaning and collective anxiety, and people’s attempts at dealing with those things. People seem to be finding the world an increasingly overwhelming and absurd place. Noticing how they deal with that has been finding its way into my work.

I only knew what this EP was about after it was finished. I approach writing with an idea about a sound or a vague feeling or imagery but leave the concepts open ended to try to write in a more abstract and subconscious way.’

This approach to writing manifests itself across the four tracks presented here with a degree of clarity that I found caught me by surprise as I progressed through it. This is a headphones record if ever there was one, with layers of ambient-synth washes morphing into gradually evolving soundscapes coloured by feedback, resolving dissonance (which is used particularly well) and white noise.

I found as the EP went on it genuinely did make me go through a range of emotions as it progressed, which is fairly remarkable for something as abstract as this. I feel I should say there are a few melodic moments on this record, with some particularly lovely synth chords working as contrast to the darker, more dissonant sounds.

Parts of Coping Stratagies reminded me of Synth pioneer Éliane Radigue’s Kyema. A formless work inspired by her own mediation and the book of the dead, it builds emotional content without use of rhythm or melody, instead utilising changing frequencies and textures of sound and requiring the listener to let go and immerse themselves in the piece.

Coping Strategies is presented in a far more concise and digestible form than this however and has a distinctly modern flavour, which is immediately evident in the glitch beats of opening track Vendor Day. My only real bone of contention with the EP are the vocoded vocals (I am not altogether a fan of vocoder at all unless Stevie Wonder is the person wielding it) however these are used sparingly and are never the focal point.

I found Coping Strategies to be rewarding and engaging work as it unfolded. Despite the relatively formless nature of the tracks, it’s clear that a lot of attention has been paid to their arrangements.

I’m always pleased to hear something unexpected, and I have to applaud any artist who is prepared to put the time into crafting and releasing Experimental music when playing it safe is often the only way to get exposure. As James himself states, the world is an increasingly overwhelming place, so finding the time to sit back, listen to a record like this and get a little bit lost is probably a wise investment of your time.

Coping Strategies is out now via &Options.

Find more on Cares below:


Wil Miles

Wil is a 30-something musician and music lover from Bristol. He enjoys a wide range of music, including Prog-Rock/Metal, Post-Rock, Punk, Pop and a range of other genres that don't necessarily start with a P. If it sounds good, it is good.

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