There’s a nocturnal feel to Missions full-length debut album Subcreature. A neon glow the emanates like reflections on seedy city streets when the safety of daylight is its furthest distance from you. Dark electro beats and subtle synth structures make a musical narrative for electronic vocals to slink along with. Missions, aka Los Angeles-based musician and producer Josh Mills, carefully curates and builds ten tracks of hypnotic and blissful electronic music. Subcreature is a retro-futuristic record that sounds both familiar yet completely alien in the most beautiful way.
“Truther” opens the album (as well as being the lead single.) It emanates with attitude and an underlying sense of darkness. Mills uses the vocoder more like color and shade instead of a mask to hide behind. With his voice and lovelorn lyrics projected through the guise of robotic connection, the song seem to take on an added depth of melancholy. “Truther” works on so many levels to pull you in; from the the 70s electro boogie to the sparse production to the vocoder-colored vocals. “Slime” is deceptively sensual if you give yourself over to the electro groove. An array of melodies come in and out of focus thru various synth noises. The song is meticulously structured by Mills, giving it a chromed-out sheen. The melancholy groove of “Spoken” is electro heartbreak at its best. It’s a song about losing something special, with lyrics like “I can see where we’ve gone, but not where we’re going/
But I’m not worried, it’s only bad at the end of the day.” Mills displays a deft touch as a producer and composer, and it truly shows in this excellent track.
Elsewhere title track “Subcreature” bounces along on a propulsive rhythm and an infectious synth melody. “Confused” brings to mind classic German Krautrock like Kraftwerk, Rudiger Lorenz, and Cluster on a Depeche Mode backbone of slinky rhythm. “Splash” has an almost island vibe, much like Mills’ label mate Jake Schrock’s Tropical Depression. The breezy sway here is infectious. “Glimmer” closes the album out on a cinematic note. Dense layers of synth strings accentuate the analog pulse of the song. Under the slick production sheen there’s a darkness. It’s the end of the night, and time to make that walk home on those neon-lit streets that brought us here.
Subcreature is a beautifully dark and illuminating debut. Missions’ Josh Mills builds songs into all-encompassing music worlds with his studio prowess and musical instinct. Seductive rhythms and synth-heavy melodies make this record an engaging and intense listening experience. But underneath the dense production and dance floor grooves is an album about heartache and a hopeless romantic finding his way thru it.
8.1 out of 10