Cubicolor – Sometime Not Now

A deft blend of the digital and the organic...

In an astute march to the upper echelons of electronic, Cubicolor wield the acoustic elements in their music like a weapon of feeling.

The newest album from Cubicolor – the British/Dutch trio made up of Tim Digby-Bell, Peter Kriek and Ariaan Olieroock – almost never materialised. Comprised of tracks rescued from the archives as part of a pandemic-induced clear-out, ‘Sometime Not Now’ finds cohesion in its bright, brooding acoustic elements and warm, melancholic lead vocals.

The group’s previous full-length effort, 2020’s ‘Hardly A Day, Hardly A Night, established Cubicolor as the driving force in a burgeoning faction in the electronic music community. One with a fresh take on live instrumentation and song structure, concerned more with honest songwriting and less with external trends. What comes from this approach this time around is a set of songs rich with emotion and clarity.

‘Easy Mark’ – the album’s third single and first on the tracklist to stir a reaction – combines a rattling drum line with a swelling set of synths and live bass. The song’s bubbling, almost anxious mood sets the tone for the project. Throughout, there’s a sense of untethered energy ready to burst.

Although this energy spills over the sides at points, on the punchy ‘Summer & Smoke’ and the freewheeling ‘No Se’, the album doesn’t lean on climaxes. The glimmering moments of cacophony on the intro, ‘All Tied Up’, as well as pulsing songs like ‘Know’ and ‘As You Fly’, exercise discipline in maintaining this simmering spirit. A yearning that’s always at arm’s reach.

Speaking on stand-out track ‘The Outsider’, the band noted that this was about “encompassing the energy of change, of seeking more and running with it.” The entire album is sequenced in this manner, to great effect. Each track is tied together with a sentiment shared in the group’s lyrics and the bright piano and guitar melodies present throughout. 

‘Sometime Not Now’ is a landmark moment in Cubicolor’s career. It’s not only a key touchpoint in the musicians’ exploration into the melting pot of acoustic and electronic music, but it’s also a huge weight off of the shoulders of the group. They speak of the album’s production – the reworking of scrapped ideas from 2019 – as one of vanishing doubt, “instead of roadblocks we saw opportunities.”

Ultimately, although the soundscapes here lend subtle references to their closest influences – artists like Debussy, Aphex Twin and Philip Larkin – individually, they are totally unique journeys into this signature style of songwriting. It’s at points unconventional, but overall, it speaks to a very tangible sense of closure.

7/10

Words: Dom Taylor

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