Holy Roar Records Files Pt.2 – Rolo Tomassi’s Cosmology

OK, so this one was put out on a different label initially, but Holy Roar released Cosmology on vinyl so it still counts. Look, who’s writing this fucking thing?

8 years ago

OK, so this one was put out on a different label initially, but Holy Roar released Cosmology on vinyl so it still counts. Look, who’s writing this fucking thing? Semantics, etc. If I needed an excuse to write about this wonderfully dreamy experiment of math metal and synth symphonies (synthonies? Nah.) then this is it. Rolo Tomassi – for the crime of being too splendid a band to hate and too skilled at writing the most savage party metal, you have been found guilty. Let’s examine the evidence as to why they have a life sentence to spent in the confines of any digital device I own.

In the context of the year it was released, Cosmology was in pretty good company. It was the year of Option Paralysis, Heliocentric and Long Live. Three other records that were equally as important in shaping the tastes of one sweaty Scottish metal freak. And look at how splendid and well rounded I turned out. Thanks Rolo. Much like the acts responsible for those records (Dillinger Escape Plan, The Ocean, The Chariot. Nerds), the young Sheffield band didn’t put out the album that everyone was expecting. Far from it. Instead, their deranged take on math rock and hardcore took a detour down a street paved with the seminal records of Brian Eno, John Zorn and…eh… Diplo. Yes, that Diplo.

The mega producer was behind the dials on Cosmology and it is without one creeping shadow of a doubt his best work. This record will forever stand the test of time and the zany, in your face production is a big part of it’s longevity. A bunch of hopped up punks from the North of England traveled to the glamour hotspot of LA to record with a producer more accustomed to working with the likes of M.I.A and Santigold. You won’t believe what happened next! Well, you will. Cosmology fucking BLARES out of the speakers when shit gets wild. The gloriously titled “Party Wounds” might be the closest sounding track to 2008’s Hysterics but it sounds far more precise and punctual; the overdriven organ sounds just as heavy as the guitars distorted to the point of no return. My favourite track from this record, “Tongue In Chic”, is another face melter aided by Diplo’s keen ear. But it’s not the party hardcore riffs or the death growls that make it such a classic, no. It’s the tracks gentle mutation into a crooning Patton esque power ballad that keeps this one on my playlists, six years later.

The shrill organs and syncopated percussion give way to the shiniest of shoegaze sounds all too often on this seminal album. On “Tongue In Chic” in particular, the slow build up of shimmering keys and fuzzy eyed bass hook transform into a jaw dropping middle section. Eva Tomassi truly lets rip and gets to show off her glorious vocal range; a range that Diplo helped nurture and showcase throughout Cosmology, showing off the most devilish and angelic parts of the human voice.

With several songs maintaining a steady atmosphere of “where exactly in space are we right now and do we ever have to leave?”, the feral nature of the Rolo Tomassi gets to burn even brighter when given a shot. As crazy as Mr Bungle or as serene as Mogwai, Cosmology never flickers and certainly never fades. This was a microcosm of existence that no Tomassi material before or after has quite achieved. I love their entire discography but the heady heights of it’s title track and the dizzying array of sounds and textures smashed into one full length won’t be beaten, for me anyway.

In short – I know I tend to just keep fucking going on when given any opportunity – this album is forever a favourite of mine and if you give it the chance again it will probably be one of yours. For all the love and attention they received around the turn of the decade, Rolo Tomassi never blew up. So fuck. They created a masterpiece and continue to play the music they love and with a gusto that is actually quite scary. If you get a chance to hear any of these tracks live then just do it. Don’t be that person who clicks “going” but then bitches and moans when they “forgot” about the show. Suck it.

Matt MacLennan

Published 8 years ago