Objekt – Cocoon Crush: “Pulsating with life”
TJ Hertz, who performs under the moniker Objekt, had an unusual path into music. After doing an engineering degree, he worked as a software designer for music company Native Instruments, where he worked with audio, on an almost molecular level, every day. That kind of care and consideration characterises Hertz’s production, as well as the effect it has on the listener – Cocoon Crush slides over your skin and gets in where you least expect it.
Released on November 9, the album comes four years after his breakthrough Flatland. Objekt was inescapable on the festival circuit this summer, and moves fluidly between massive warehouse spaces, packed fields and intimate basement dancefloors. Cocoon Crush marks a departure from the production-heavy, pounding techno which has risen in popularity over the last few years – easy to feel, easy to move, dance floor ready music (and there’s nothing wrong with that). What Cocoon Crush does instead is build up anticipation – for a drop that never comes, a kick snare that never hits when you want it to – before taking a soundscape to new places. Hertz creates densely textured landscapes – arrythmic and arresting – which have a glimmer of the unexpected running through them, like a white hair.
Counting in at eleven tracks, Cocoon Crush is more introspective, somber and downbeat than you might expect of the producer who made ‘Theme from Q’, a 2017 banger which continues to run through dance-floors everywhere. But the immersion and fragility of Cocoon Crush is far better for it. Sound, in Hertz’s hands, is deftly wielded, and every second feels curated. Take ‘Silica’, which is like some kind of alien transmission, glitchy and irregular, and hums with a kind of reserve that is refreshing for an album which is ostensibly electronic music. The next track, ‘Runaway;, marks a little bit of a return to that club-readiness, with a beautifully understated drum beat which drives the track forward, before slowing down to eerie screeches, abruptly starting back up with an insistent metallic beat, accelerating forward again. Perhaps the only track on the album which could be described as a made-for-club banger is ’35’, which has a throbbing kick drum and bassline, with weird vocals layered on top – but even that changes, oh so gradually, into an introspective song, the kind of song you put on after a night out (if you’re feeling very rough).
While all of the album is meticulously engineered – and it shows, the dedication and detail paid to even five-second flashes of sound, thrumming away in the background, or so faint you can only hear them if you strain – ‘Secret Snake’ is a personal favorite, with a sexy, throbbing deep bassline, overlaid by all kinds of noise, from dial tones, to a semi-choral hum – which you won’t be able to get out of your head after you hear it. Another is ‘Deadlock’, which could soundtrack a robot apocalypse, a rich bassline overset with a mesh of sounds evocative of both of a rainforest and a mission from outer space, with atonal, clanging chords on the first two beats. Almost instantaneously, it becomes very quiet, simmering, before abruptly returning to full pelt.
Cocoon Crush feels at once anxious and uninhibited, perhaps because of the unusual musical choices which Hertz makes. Fans of Hertz may have found themselves taken aback by this new direction – while old production, as well as some of his mixes, have belied a more introspective element of his music, as well as a different approach to creating music, the whole album in this case finds those weird little niches – noise that’s ASMR-triggering, for example – and rolls in it. Creating an album full of club friendly bangers would have been possible, and perhaps, in some ways, expected. But Hertz’s decision to draw inspiration from unusual sources and create an album that seems to be pulsating with life, despite how far from human it all is, is refreshing.