Ginla’s “Codex” – the debut is a satisfying mutation of the dreamier side of things

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Since their formation in 2012, the duo of Jon Nellen and Joe Manzol – known as Ginla – have released a couple of singles (noteworthy ones include ‘What About the Sun’ and ‘Come Down’) that would apparently define their vision they had for their first full release. Flash forward to summer of 2018 and the process before the “Codex” release was set. Beginning with the early summer first single ‘Lomo’ – a laid back electro-acoustic flair of reflections – followed by their mid summer second single ‘Infinite’, an enchanting blend of resonating spaciness and daydream-like yet transparent voices, loosely held by fun drum n bass influences. When i first heard this, I couldn’t help but feel ecstatic for it. That said with the two releases beforehand, my concerns of an otherwise mediocre album set in. After the Sept 7th release (on Terrible Records), I’m happy to say that’s not the case.

“Codex” is an achievement in blissful lullabies, addicting at times, lovingly soothing the soul, fluctuating in pace that elates but remains true to itself. Songs like ‘Crown II(feat. Naima)’ represents the reflective side; with its shadowy organ, pensive strum of the chord and clumsy clashing of found sounds and xylophone. The lyrics sing about a reluctant plea to eternal love and eventually letting go. ‘Infinite’ is on the opposite, with Brian Eno keyboard sounds briskly conveyed by subtle drum n bass taps, lyrics delivered from the point of view of a daydreamer yet confidently voiced above the murk – imagine a dream pop Elliot Smith? I can’t help but repeat how much superlatives this song deserves. I also like ‘Between’ with the start of distant ambient echoes and the acoustic guitar loops eventually morphing into midi guitar loops at the end. With the two singles being released before, i felt the placement of ‘Infinite’ set the entire mood for the album, quickly picking up the pace from the interlude sounding first song ‘Codex’ – the title of the album. Its arguable if ‘Lomo’ was placed before ‘Infinite’, it would’ve created a more nuanced build up, but jumping into it wasn’t a bad idea either.

Beyond that, i was impressed with the jazzy organ ambient sounds of ‘Irridescent’ and the spacey acoustic guitars of ‘Interlude’. With ‘Cub’ its acoustic driven riff inspires a hook that suggests a ballad, yet with subdued slightly quirky beats influencing enough to nod your head in rhythm. ‘Know Yourself’ starts off with sampled drum patterns and melancholic organs echoing not far behind, with lyrics “the keys on the counter stove, the words you forgot to say” forging into satisfying clarity highlighted by impressive doses of electro, ambient and IDM.

Honestly i was hard pressed in finding a flaw with this album. That said there’s bits and pieces that seemed odd. ‘Crown’ with its faster than normal drum n’bass influences appears to feel out of place as it advances to the slower reflective ‘Lomo’ – the first single released. Still its not really bad they did this. If i want to hear a good drum n’ bass track, i know where to press play. Of course, there’s ‘Crown II’ so i guess they need to stick together. The positive of it all is more music right? Anyways “Codex” is a stirring debut that should appeal to those who still have faith in the existence of chillwave and it won’t end this decade. At the very least, it could be their contribution because who knows what will happen next? For now, its a worthy 2018 release.

The album is out now. Most of the links will forward to the fan link.

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