The return of Mosa a.k.a David Ashbourne to the underground music scene is anticipated, if not grossly long overdue. The music producer and singer-songwriting artist updates his discography with the release of his 2021 full-length album Ruminations & Adaptations, following its predecessing single teasers from earlier on in the year which included tracks like Grey Areas, Sharing The Light and Shut Off/Shut Down. Some of these tracks have made it to the collective, in the company of some entirely fresh tracks.
At a fundamental level, the album does not restrict itself to the confines of a particular genre — Mosa delves in his usual caricatures such as electronic pop, occasionally also charting out into other loosely defined characterisations of electronic dance music, indie-folk/indie-pop and folktronica. The album observes a heavy usage of the computerised electronic element, resonating sound oddly reminiscent at times of the Amnesiac-era Radiohead to even more mellow electronic folk components such as that of Ivan Kupala. The album spans for a period of forty-three minutes, divided into ten neatly defined tracks that are enjoyed best as their own individualistic components rather than a collectivistic album entity. Although the tracks may be difficult to follow through as a continual thematic crossfade from one to the other, the collection is intentioned to be listened to in episodic intervals.
The album leads off with Shut Off/Shut Down, thoroughly defined by its electronic dance element mixed with an alternative-rock arrangement, accompanied alongside Ashbourne’s ashen and mature vocals that resemble a Thom Yorke-ish characterisation. Empty Vessel is understandably more ominous, with its usage of scratchy and crunchy electronic pulsation and impassioned near-metallic vocals. Sharing The Light begins with piano in an almost diegetic tone — very Ramin Djawadi — and maintains its dramatic ascendance throughout the track. The vocals in the track are particularly immersive, if not entirely relatable, highlighting the emotional overabundance and tempestuousness. As the track builds up in a near-dystopic soundscape replete with a post-rockish toned pentatonic guitar solo, Ashbourne’s harmonic arrangement defines the number.
The Surface is as melancholic as it is a respite from the world — a true-to-the-game definition of an indie-folk number mixing with the new wave of electronic folk and a tinge of the coastal folkish element. Following the turbulence of the tracks before it, The Surface appears as an emotional break from the gravity, offering the listener a soothing folk number. Rattle My Cage undergoes a sort of duality as it initially begins with synth ambient melodic waves, but quickly evolves into an upbeat alternative rock arrangement. Notwithstanding, Rattle My Cage is perhaps both uplifting and equally morose, depicting a need for fraternal assurance from the subject of the song. Ashbourne’s vocals appear particularly lovelorn and morbid, highlighting a certain kind of emotional hurt that metamorphosizes into a track-length arrangement.
The second part of the album leads off with Next Words — a six and a half minute journey, making it the longest track of the collection. For me, the genius of Mosa is best explicit in this track — presenting itself in a beautiful and immersive auditory montage of bluesy electric guitar solos with introspective ambient synth waves. The track goes through various stages and developments, defining itself at points as a mixture of electronic dance and hyper-pop extravaganza with traditional folksy vocals. Mosa manages to make this soundscape entirely his own.
Both the tracks Call Our Own Names and Fade Away seem to borrow from a similar alt-rock formula as some of the previous tracks, but the closing moments of the album is defined by the other two number. Grey Areas is experimental and intriguing, particularly with its xylophonic electronic pinpricks that decorate the track along with long melodic synth elements. The definitive track of the album, however, is its closing number Til The Fire Dies. It is a moody folktronica arrangement, summing up the album in its entirety. In a way, it thematically winds together the points that the albums aim to hit, finishing it up with Ashbourne’s musical and philosophical maxims.