Phlegmatic Stare is one of the many side projects of the Forest Kids Collective. When I say many, what I mean is that as of the time of writing I have practically no clue how many side projects the Forest Kid Collective actually consists of. But, if I were to guess, maybe five? Regardless, on this latest album, Caught in a Time Warp, the Collective explores a world of strange and gloomy textures that create a feeling of being stuck in a dark and deep depression.
The entire album is full of shimmering pads that have been dulled and dampened until they can no longer shimmer in any sense of the word. This is paired alongside discordant harmonies and melodies that are quite melodies. A melody would be something that is able to complete its thought, whereas these cannot. A prime example of this can be heard on the aptly named track, Collapse. The not melodic melody pans slowly yet wildly from left to right and is supported by a harmony that refuses to resolve into anything beyond a melancholic feeling.
Notable throughout the whole album is a lack of any kind of percussion. Instead, Phlegmatic Stare makes use of intense sweeps and swoosh that create a strange sense of drowning within the sound. The only exception to this appears right at the end with the final track, PS_. Here, I was met with a vaporwave-esque percussion that seems to go way too fast for the rest of the music surrounding it. Almost as if I had suddenly walked into a dance club playing eighties music after huffing a whole lot of ether.
Overall, this album is a bizarre trip into a world that reeks of depression. The aesthetic of the album is reminiscent of vaporwave but the feel is that of pure confused anguish. By this I don’t mean to say that this is the album you put on when you’re feeling sad, there’s plenty of sad sappy songs for that. Rather, this album is for when you wonder what the real fog of depression sounds like inside someone’s head. It is not a comfortable trip, but it is one that I highly recommend taking.