Post-hardcore for polite society, math-rock table manners, midi-sequenced petticoats. These are a just a few of the many abstract personal descriptions for New York post-hardcore duo Cotillion. By their own admission, they aren't afraid of putting out a bold statement - even if some may consider it to be a bewildering one - and if this means that their ten-track Debutantes trilogy of releases has a better backing because of it, then why not? At least that's what I say. So behind the fashion design and the blank faces, Cotillion's sound projects itself as a multitude of ideas spanning an album just passing the thirty minute mark, but without question, bursting at the seems with energy and expression.
Walking Apnea may open up with a gentle and melodic strum of guitars and twitchy, outer-space synths that perhaps give light to the album's lighter, bold ventures into exploration, but the song for the most part is a definite extroversion - if slightly held back - of electric guitars and carefully-placed hits of percussion. And while it may not be the most diverse or developed rock piece, it's switch from heavy guitars to flickered synthesizers - a slight influence of drum n bass sneaking in on parts - is an interesting one at that. Following on, and pardoning the title, I Forgot About My Tea, And Now It's Cold (these guys know me, nervously, too well) the track is as far from its implied surreality as you can get. Its sound is a much-deserved step up, guitars feel a lot more involved and the overall composition of the track provides some very well-executed atmosphere about the music. The rhythm has a steady but deep-rooted flow and while it is one of the shorter tracks in this offering, I'm inclined to return to it even after the first listen. Your Other Left, by contrast, feels a lot more dedicated and inclined to focus on its math-rock tendencies through the use of drastic rhythm changes and shifts in tempo as the song transgresses from first to second half. But within these sections, the band create some interesting walls of texture via the rough guitar sounds that flow nicely against the synchronous drop of drumbeats throughout.
Moving onto the second part of the trilogy, there's an immediate attraction on the track Vodka Tectonic, into how well the band manage to combine their traditional rough exterior ushering of guitar rock along with what may be a bizarre flicker of electronics soon after. What may be described as chip-tune, appears on cue and in perfect accompaniment to the track's former immediacy of guitars and drums, and while the contrast is an extreme one, it's the retro nostalgia that entices the reintroduction of rock sounds into the mix. But what I like more on the track Southern, Tropical Feel is not just the priority taken on the grungier, muddy hardcore focus on guitar tones and riffs, but how well melodically the pattern of guitars plays and carries forward. Even when the track pulls back and withdraws itself for a brief period, there's no lacking in the same drive and energy to build up on what's come before it. And though the latter half reintroduces the emphasis on electronically-charged tones and textures, again it adds to the intensity and the composition of the piece.
And in the final third of the three-piece release, Cotillion move further into math-rock tendencies through the increased range in rhythm and the building momentum that increases on opener New Kind Of Reward. But with follower 99¢ Horizon, we get a clear and perfect picture into how well Cotillion at do in combining their thirst for tone in line with the rhythm and pacing of the genres they fit neatly between. Amid the forwarded exertions of guitars and clouded-over percussion - that gets somewhat disorientating amid the blanketing of strings - there are moments when the music takes a less fronted approach and vacates into this tender melodic alternative, and its these section that I enjoy the most out of all the sounds that the band put forward. Not that their mix of hardcore and math-rock doesn't excite me, but on a wider scale, taking a three-part album and analyzing it as something that requires intrigue from start to finish, I can see the more composed and deeply enticed acoustic sections providing the greater moments for listeners. But by contrast, and as a perfect place-holder for me to show my admiration-slash-bias for electronic music, the sharp, clean-cut distortion of closer Cardboard Tamagotchi is by a margin, the stand-out deciding factor for the three-piece. And it's a decision that ends in repeated listens. From the very start, there's little hesitance from the band to get things going, and that mind-set is showcased really well in the track's opening shoot of warped bass synths and climatic scales of drum hits that tie in neatly with one another's extreme execution. The evident borrowing from breakbeat's spliced rhythms too is a nice inclusion, but it's the engrossing ballooning of synths that are the main attraction on this track, and while this for the most part a majority electronic song, it shares the same musical identity of the band as the previous tracks do, and to have shifted so drastically in palette for an album closer, and still pull it off in this fashion, is without question a feat in its own right.
To say I'm taken a back by how this album ends, doesn't really do the rest of this release much justice. While I'm not exactly the best (both knowledge-wise as well in regards to investing one's listening over) when it comes to hardcore (or is it post...see how good I am at this?), if this is the sound of a new generation of artists in this field, then I'm all for it. While the heavier, rougher exertions of instrumentation do come off as more a required than an generally accessible taste, the band's intended emphasis on electronics does give them reason to push boundaries. It's a gamble, admittedly, when you play synths with a heavier treating of rock, but the way The Debutantes teases and tests us with its extremity of electronics, amplifies the band's sense of bold, brave, ballsy bravado of music in a well-sought contemporary atmosphere of melody and texture. What I hope will come of this, is for this album to set the band's creativity and adventurous going. To see this dynamic meshing of instrumentation and electronics, in a further developed state, would be an interesting, and much welcomed, listen. All three parts of the The Debutantes are available for download on the band's bandcamp here.