Claudia Placanica and MauSS, the names behind the duo Costume, have come a long way from their first efforts together. Their mix of house, new wave, synth-pop and experimental music has evolved in different forms, and it seems the period of forced seclusion due to COVID-19 has inspired a wave of recent outputs in which they further explored the possibilities of their sound by adding droning passages, punk guitars and even ambient moments.
Their new album Resonant Garden is return of sort to a conciser and focused approach favoring a common them explored in a 6-track vinyl and digital release. This time the guitar element is up-front, the protagonist of engaging pastiches where the strings meet aural synth patterns, and upon which Claudia places her mutant voice capable of sensual motifs and more caustic takes, following a narrative nature.
If the opener “I Will Be” sets the mood via somber static sounds followed by solemn guitars and enchanting vocals, recalling the “desert atmosphere” of early-mid 90’s Depeche Mode (think of Violator and Songs Of Faith And Devotion), the sophomore track “Forget Gold” combines the guitars with an obsessive mechanical rhythm surrounded by nocturnal innuendos and enriched by Claudia’s musing. The last part of the episode sees a growing intensity which achieves subtle evocative suggestions.
“Mufflers” is the short electronic intro to “Why Protest”, an electro-rock affair, graced by looping riffs, strong kicks a roaring performance by the singer. By contrast, the eerie synth-pads employed complete a robust sound that becomes a stage for Claudia’s theatrical approach. Sensual moments and coarse vocals give us a militant dialogue underlined by old-school solos and effective baritones. “I Really Left You” surprises us with a laid-back and playful style in which funky rhythms and elegant, jazzy sounds become one in a retro-futuristic pastiche making us think of a piano-bar placed in a cyberpunk reality. Once again the duo showcase their ability in mixing different sound and languages without forcing one of them or sounding contrived.
The final outro “Reach The Void” is a short electronic mantra full of evocative synth sounds and slow movements which hypnotize the listener, guiding him by the hand toward the inevitable conclusion, or better said, toward the void.
Resonant Garden is a new step in an ever evolving approach of Costume, shying away from the club moments of the past, but at the same time stirring away from the harsher elements and the more ambient-like passages of works like the Unus Spiritus series or “Kosmos”. Here the guitar is the a strong presence, but the electronics are not forfeited becoming instead its best companions. Every track has its own sonic world and narrative, and both MauSS and Claudia are not afraid to try some new things while retaining their distinctive traits.
Release date: April 21st, 2021.
Text by: Davide Pappalardo