Chris Cohen’s breezy, effortlessly refined psych-lite songwriting may not surprise the minority of listeners keen to his decade fronting Cryptacize or Natural Dreamers. But as for the rest of us, decamping from our Captured Tracks associations — or, of course!, his time backing the enduringly iconoclastic and provocative West Coast pop vanguard of Deerhoof and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti — we can only open the conversation in contradistinction. Absent are the synths and glassy fidelity of the former, as well as the jarring fits of noise and absurdity, the ponderous plays of self, taste, and appropriation of the latter.
Though Chris Cohen's name might not ring any bells for a lot of people, his playing has silently enriched countless records and live performances for better-known acts for years. Apart from being a key contributor to criminally underappreciated bands like Curtains and Cryptacize, Cohen played with Deerhoof, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Cass McCombs, White Magic, and many others for years before striking out under his own name with Overgrown Path. The album's nine songs of gently psyched-out orchestral rock don't sound so much like a continuation of any of the bands he's worked with over the years as they do an incredible expansion of the ideas he planted seeds for with former bands.
Chris Cohen has played with a series of high-profile indie acts, including Haunted Graffiti, Cass McCombs, and Deerhoof, and Overgrown Path, his first solo album, has the unified feel of a stash of songs that he's been sitting on for years. Sunlit, pastoral, and serenely strange, it feels like something unearthed by an enterprising reissue label like Light in the Attic, rather than a brand-new record on Captured Tracks. It's a gentle listen-- the snare drum doesn't receive a lot of attention, and is tapped rather than struck when it does.
Chris Cohen’s Beach Boys by way of Talk Talk pop explorations most closely resemble the music of Cohen’s friend, contemporary, and bandmate Cass McCombs. Over dim psychedelic classic rock, smooth swagger, and jazzy instrumentation, Cohen’s Overgrown Path croons with a subtle darkness, its seemingly carefree melodies venturing towards sadness and disillusionment. Heavy keys, syncopated rhythms, crawling bass lines, and pastoral folk-soul melodies move in and out of darkness, like walking midnight’s empty city streets, some lit bright and some completely bleak.
Chris Cohen has bounced around in bands like Deerhoof and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti for years, so how fitting that late 2012 gives us records from all three. Cohen’s Overgrown Path is a mash-up of his far-flung musical past, a gauzy record full of layers that seem to simultaneously fade and swell toward you at the same time. “Monad” spreads out on warm pianos and jazzy drum fills, while “Caller no.
Chris Cohen's debut album recreates that state of soporific paralysis experienced on days when you never can quite shake yourself awake. Like a drowsy, wayward wasp in summertime, heavy lids and weary limbs construct a world in slow motion, casting a comfort blanket of contentment over your entire being. Hands in pockets, gazing wistfully at the sky, Cohen bottles rose-tinted sanguinity with a feathery lightness of touch and stores it for the dismal months that lie ahead.