- A couple of years ago, I wrote about a gradual change I'd noticed in the music of Joe Cowton, AKA Kowton. Techno has recently emerged as an equal partner in the synthesis of UK club styles that he and Livity Sound have helped establish. In doing so, tracks like "Glock & Roll" and "On Repeat," where melodies and vocals coiled like a tightening fist, became increasingly insistent. Over the course of an album, that approach may have seemed too forceful, but on Pea Soup / Iodine, techno's DNA enhances the music.
The Robert Hood-style chords on "Iodine" are among Cowton's strongest Detroit references. Thanks to a skipping shaker pattern and discordant string plucks, the music maintains the skittish energy of previous releases while the chords add more instability. The eight-note loop keeps its shape across the track, but the notes themselves wobble like glass bottles in a moving crate. "Pea Soup" is a more typical Livity Sound jam. The drums strike in odd patterns and the low-end is as thick as smog. Strange rhythmic accents circulate, like the laugh that unfolds into a loop. Other features—revving engines, synth notes that curl up like question marks—are more unfamiliar, but they're small surprises on a 12-inch that otherwise consolidates Cowton's sound.
A Pea Soup