Cold is the debut release from Cape Town-based musician Jean-Paul Britz, released in December 2022. The album’s eight tracks serve as a pensive meditation, with its experimental production choices resulting in a weighty, liquid soundscape. 

The EP begins with ‘I thought I knew’, which is definitely the odd one out on this project. The sharp electronic drums on this track are the only time they’re used, but they work well to get your head bobbing along quickly. The track lures you in by keeping things snappy before you hit the second track, ‘Muddy Waters’.

Here you get a taste of where Cold plans to take you — a room of faded vocals, lonely strings, and a bass whispering in your ear. But these first two tracks also make clear that Cold is looking to deliver something more than a decent Rainbow Kitten Surprise impression.

An essential part of the sound is the ambient production, like the subtle keys on ‘Abelon’, the opening distortion on ‘Honey, you’, and a whole range of interesting sounds on ‘Deal’. 

While the project makes good use of its basic components of vocals, guitar, bass, and drums, the extra production elements do a lot of work to create the project’s enveloping, melancholy mix.

Honey, you

Cold’s third track, ‘Honey, you’, follows an acoustic guitar swimming in a deep pool of bass and vocals. ‘Honey, you’ is the first slower-paced track, and dives head-first into the hazy, liquid mood present throughout the project.

Part of that sound is the willingness to be sparing with the percussion when necessary. Nonetheless, the drums pull a lot of weight on Cold in general. In the closing section of ‘Honey, you’ the percussion takes centre stage alongside emotive vocalisations.

Jean-Paul makes good use of more ambitious vocal flairs throughout the project, notably in the fifth track, ‘Only one”.

Duisend

‘Duisend’ has an especially dreamy feel, even in an album with a particularly dissociative sound. Vocals and synths stretch like toffee over muted drums, kept moving by a tick-tocking sample fading in and out of focus.

Like many tracks on Cold, ‘Duisend’ is at its best during the switch-up at the end. After a track that can make you feel drowned in warbly synths and strings, everything drops away to let Jean-Paul sing us out over acoustic guitar.

Deal

‘Deal’ feels like the most well-executed song on the album, crafting something really compelling from a wide variety of elements. By the end, we’ve gone through ghostly backing vocals, sweet keys, and fleeting electronic sounds that could have snuck out of a Passion Pit or Imogen Heap number.

The more complex mix is backed up by a restless rhythm of drums and strummed strings. ‘Deal’ feels like a collection of all of Cold’s best qualities — earnest vocals, experimental production, and a wistful feel.

The album is closed out by ‘She bled’. The final track is the simplest in terms of mix, but is definitely one of the most emotional, with its raw vocals and guitar singing out between silences.

Cold is a tight 25-minute reflection on lost love and hardship. It may be a bit bleak for the summer heat, but makes a good companion when troubled, numb times blow past again on the cool South Easter.

Author

​​I write about the tech sector in hopes we can find human-centred alternatives to the mess we’ve made for ourselves. I get involved in the music scene because leaving passion unpursued is a sin. When my feet aren’t busy on the sokkie floor, you can find me chasing silver linings.

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