Coma Cinema - Posthumous Release

by Nathan Fidler Rating:6.5 Release Date:2013-09-24

The line between bittersweet beauty and miserable git is a fine one. Mat Cothran, better known as Coma Cinema, uses that line as a jump-rope, alternating between the hushed bedroom confessional and the indie-folk genres at the same time. Given the lo-fi beginnings of this musical project, it's hardly surprising that Posthumous Release is as much about grappling with the new production sheen as it is about the songs therein. But is it resistance to the new techniques or just the slow acclimatising process we hear?

'White Trash VHS' is a brilliant, overcast track, with harmonising vocals, poetic lyrics and downbeat imagery. There's almost an early Bright Eyes feel to tracks such as 'Satan Made a Mansion', 'Virgin Veins' and 'Survivors Guilt', so much so that they could belong on the gloomy Letting Off the Happiness. In the more hushed songs, however, there is the spirit of Elliott Smith. 'Partners in Crime' has his finger-picking and there's that heavy sigh which begins the song.

It is only the sense of brevity on 'She keeps It Alive' which makes you wonder if Cothran is just testing his limits and abilities in this new atmosphere. 'Burn a Church' sounds like a 16-bit Disney video game but features provocative lines such as "Satan kisses me gently", and "Bite down, draw blood from your sister", leaving you in awe of the leisurely way in which its sung. Without anything on this album to make it stand out aggressively, you might not remember it a great deal, but that's ok. There are tracks to take on and others to leave behind in this trial-and-error effort.

The fact this release is available on cassette can only strengthen the ties to Coma Cinema's lo-fi roots, and that is where he has done his best work to date. Whether there is a regression to the bedroom or progression to a subtle protest album, the stock of this band should steadily rise - the kind of word-of-mouth band you like to pretend you discovered.

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