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Cognitive Resonance

Eventide (2015)

4.0

July 4, 2016

Tuning / Blend 4.7
Energy / Intensity 4.0
Innovation / Creativity 4.0
Soloists 3.7
Sound / Production 3.7
Repeat Listenability 3.7
Tracks
1 The Other Side 4.7
2 Got Nothing 4.0
3 When Your Mind's Made Up 3.7
4 Find My Way 4.0
5 Bottom of the River 3.7
6 Cosmic Love 3.7

Recorded 2014
Total time: 21:21, 6 songs


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 The Other Side 5
2 Got Nothing 4
3 When Your Mind's Made Up 5
4 Find My Way 5
5 Bottom of the River 4
6 Cosmic Love 5

I had no idea what to expect when I received Eventide by Cognitive Resonance. I imagined a mediocre college group from some Ivy League medical school with an eyeroll-y name and a lack-luster album title. Let me assure you, this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I would not be surprised to find Eventide topping my "Best Of" for 2016. This six-track EP is packed with dense richness. There's something for everyone — from the casual listener to the geeks like myself who listen to music both vertically and horizontally.

The arrangements are extremely strong, with a great mix of innovation and restraint. None of the arrangements stray far from the essence of the original, but there are some interesting choices in achieving the desired effect. Most notable in this regard are When Your Mind's Made Up for its use of the "th" sound and Find My Way for its creative guitar-riff syllables. What makes Eventide work so well is that its complexity doesn't extend to excessive studio effects. It all sounds like the human voice, while still exuding the rock energy the songs demand. A big part of this is the bass: John Hollingsworth combines precision, sensitivity, and a crazy deep voice. I have to admit, I'm more than a little jealous.

Eventide has an odd structure. It's very symmetrical. The Other Side and Cosmic Love bookend the album with heavy ambient soundscapes. The middle two tracks, When Your Mind's Made Up and Find My Way both have a light quality to them. The remaining two songs, Got Nothing and Bottom of the River, are incredibly stylized songs and arrangements. Plus, the inner two tracks are male-solo-centric, while the others feature strong female leads. The whole album could be flipped around and still work beautifully.

Eventide by Cognitive Resonance is a glorious gift wrapped in non-descript packaging. Well worth the purchase!


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 The Other Side 4
2 Got Nothing 4
3 When Your Mind's Made Up 3
4 Find My Way 3
5 Bottom of the River 4
6 Cosmic Love 3

Eventide from Cognitive Resonance is a nice listen when you want something else than your usual playlist. However, it doesn't bring anything unique or out-of-the-ordinary to the game. Not that this is a bad thing, as the album is generally in line with other albums put out today. What you see is what you get from Eventide, a decent album that was a labor of love by the members of Cognitive Resonance.

Typically, it is easy to find areas of albums that I wish were different or where I notice aspects I don't enjoy as a critic. Listening through Eventide, I didn't find myself marking a ton of troubling spots, which is good. There are, however, a few things I wish were different. In general, I am not personally a fan of rapping just to rap, and I love it when groups find ways to work around rap verses to create something new and exciting. And while Cognitive Resonance manages to do just that in The Other Side, the group doesn't get there quite soon enough, awkwardly getting through the first half of the rap before sing-rapping the second half, creating interesting harmonies and layers the original song doesn't have.

The other big thing to notice about Eventide is the energy that comes at you when you listen. This is on display in spades in Got Nothing and Bottom of the River, where the sound is bouncing off the walls and in your ears in the most fun way possible.

Overall, Eventide is an album that will give you good feelings the whole way through, and while there are areas to improve, I like what I'm hearing.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 The Other Side 5
2 Got Nothing 4
3 When Your Mind's Made Up 3
4 Find My Way 4
5 Bottom of the River 3
6 Cosmic Love 3

This EP is an example of what strong leadership and meticulous production can create. Throughout this six track EP, Cognitive Resonance commands your attention and gives listeners a delightful experience. I was continually impressed with how the production team took what could have been an average EP and pushed it to the next level. The team used the full range of tools available, and it shows.

The highlight of the EP is its first track, The Other Side, which is an excellent song to get things started. The arrangement is strong, especially the introduction, which draws me in immediately. The soloists, Kristen Clyburn and Shriya Soora, completely entrance me, keep my attention, and are a good fit for the song. Their talent shows and they should be proud of their work here. The backgrounds are energetic and precise. The use of dynamics is impressive. The song is executed flawlessly. Kudos.

I was pleasantly surprised by Find My Way, which as an arrangement would probably be difficult to perform well live (tuning that background!), but which works in the context of an album where the production team can ensure perfection. The energy of the background and soloist is also strong.

The EP loses some steam on When Your Mind's Made Up, which has an earnest soloist but overall is a relatively boring arrangement. Halfway through the song I find myself wanting to skip back to The Other Side or Got Nothing to get me going again. There may have been room for additional innovation here.

The solos for Bottom of the River and Cosmic Love are okay. But after hearing both Clyburn and Lauren Thomason solo earlier in the EP, where they each did a great job, I was expecting more. Their solos could have been cleaner and the tone seems off in a couple places. On the other hand, I thought the production team did a good job creating a complementary backdrop for the soloists and listeners, especially on Bottom of the River, where they were able to incorporate some of the mystery and darkness of the original.

For a group only a few years old, Cognitive Resonance is punching above its weight. The soloists are average to excellent. The arrangements are interesting. The backgrounds are energetic. And the production is outstanding. Cognitive Resonance does a good job on this EP and despite having some gripes, I will probably be listening to it again tomorrow and the day after that.

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