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Restless Mosaic, the stage name of one Brandon Isleib, dives into experimentation and technological nostalgia on a new 10-track release, There’s Much Left To Explore. Built upon bizarre influences including a tongue-in-cheek reference to ancient Windows 95 games like Loony Labyrinth, this instrumental electronic pastiche is chock full of odd time signatures, obscure chord choices, and just plain weirdness.
Restless Mosaic is something of a wanderer himself, with 21 different addresses across the US to his name and a current residency in Seattle. His background is a strange mix; he was more of an armchair musician for a long time as he worked as a baseball columnist, author, and a lawyer, and while he was still relatively unknown, one of his songs was covered by a Smashing Pumpkins member.
His long break away from making music ended in April 2020 when he got to work on this LP. Commenting on the vibe, Brandon said:
“Mosaics are colourful and intricate and expressive, but they’re also fixed to where they are. If you were a mosaic, you’d be restless–wanting to get up and find colours like yours. There’s Much Left to Explore captures that feeling, a vital one as a pandemic has grayed the world and left many feeling trapped. It’s about finding horizons and seeing what’s around the next corner. It’s about feeling freedom for the first time. It is made possible by lockdown while being lockdown’s natural predator.”
The release starts with ‘Swelter’, featuring Zappa-goofy glockenspiel lines, dark, wide-filter bass runs, and filthy synth tones all crashing over each other. True to form with the video game references, it wouldn’t sound out of place in the soundtrack to a ’90s classic.
Clocking in at a hefty eight and a half minutes is ‘Foggy Drain (Saponified)’, and this one is as atypical as the rest of the collection. It begins with a scattered glitchiness akin to how an old PC sounds when it’s struggling. It’s a good 5 minutes into the tune before the beat truly lands, and prior to that, there’s a beautiful buildup courtesy of an interplay between harps and piano lines. There’s a pervading old school house feel with some comparison to be made with Garnier when it all comes together in explosive union.
A definite highlight is ‘Desert Scorpion’. A trumpet-laden intro capped by otherworldly, bouncy percussion and careening, folky textures start the journey before the tone shifts to a wild cyberworld ride punctuated by accordions and gurgling pianos. This track is brimming with imagination and childlike fusions of wildly different pairings, and whatever you conclude, it’s certainly unique.
There’s Much Left to Explore lives up to its name as an experimental venture. On the one hand, it’s a sophisticated collection busy with complex chord changes and wildly different instrumentation, and on the other, it toys with absurdism for the hell of it, making it a fun and boisterous experience all round.