A Square Meal: ‘City Ep’ by Ca5

Originally posted on the ChipWIN Blog on June 13th, 2019.
Edited by Erin Hood.

I’ve always had a fascination with how sounds are interpreted by other people; is it too rough, too high or too intense? Why do people like it? That’s because, in the end, and as almost everything else, music is communication. Sometimes, even without noticing it, I have ended up with my nose between sounds I didn’t fully comprehend at the first listen. Of course, the wrong context could ruin your enjoyment of some music, but there are some albums that seem to remain unchanged regardless of where you listen. That is the case with Ca5’s music. The urban landscapes with shades of drum and bass stand by its own and go straight to the point; whether you are at a rave, in the waiting room of your dentist, or enjoying the afternoon coffee. So let’s take a look over ‘City EP’ by Ca5 released through Esctrax.

A somehow familiar melody gives us a really captivating welcome. As the track moves forward adding new elements, that little theme is reiterated as an ostinato and melted with the subsequent melodies. This generates a really pleasant, absorbing sensation, putting us right into the scene: as if we were witnessing a crowded night at the train station. The people going by taking care of their own business, maybe a little bit worried about not missing the next train, and the inert platform that – like us – is just a passive, steady observer of this picture.

The colorful melodies are complimented by the occasional arpeggios and the tiny elements that stay behind the scenes but gives body to the track. One of the most interesting points of this track is in the section starting at 0:54; right there is the perfect spot to appreciate how well the two melodies (the main melody and the ostinato) work together and try to understand the delicate bond between them. This track is just an exquisite experience.

But, why the train station? Well, apparently, in Japan, at the Nagoya Station of the Nagoya Line of Kintetsu Railway Co. (and according to Wikipedia the Indonesian train stations do this as well) the little theme presented as an ostinato on this track is played when a train departs from the station; which could make sense in this context, since this is the ‘City EP’ and the track is called ‘Metro’. That’s something I learned thanks to this track. I don’t know is if there’s a relationship between that fact and the track’s title, but I’d like to think so.

Everything in this EP is about atmosphere and how the music is constructed to faithfully describe a picture. In ‘Seaport’ we can listen how the pads take on that role. Its deep, airy quality provides a mysterious tone. Nothing too serious, just a little sprinkle to add a little mystery; while the drums have a major presence and let the break lead the track. That break is the element that stands out the most – beyond the genre’s name – allowing a major sense of motion, which, at the same time, is contained by the slow melodies and gives us that tasty contrast, giving interesting to the track. It’s easy to be mesmerized by the little vocal chops as we advance and get lost into the vast realm of its dazzling sound, seeing ourselves suddenly surrounded by a mild darkness and a salty breeze. We are finally where we wanted.

‘Lightless’ closes the EP, and what a way to end it! Compared with the other two tracks, ‘Lightless’ is a little bit slower, calmer, and reflective. The buoyant pads floating over the chords and the drums draw for us an unreal night. The sensation of openness is enhanced by the square bass, which adds character and support, and which takes the whole track to the next level when it’s featured in a thoughtful solo. Its continuous pace makes it something really enjoyable to listen to.

The bittersweet taste that this track left me with is hard to put into words. Despite what the title implies, it is neither despairing nor creepy; I actually find it… relaxing. Maybe it is the fact that the track is in constant motion, creating a cohesive structure,  that makes it really easy to relate to. It could also be the warm melodies that make me wonder if a lightless episode is really that bad. I find it overwhelming, almost cathartic. Lightless does not always mean uncertainty, that’s more than clear to me now.

What else can I say about this EP? This is a piece of work that will make you think of some city landscapes, sure, but it will make you perceive them in a completely new way: through the senses and feelings of Ca5, which – like knowing the opinion and thoughts of others –  is always a valuable thing. Maybe we can see it as a journey: a ‘Metro’ ride to the ‘Seaport’, which is ‘Lightless’; perhaps everything the same night under the same clear sky. It doesn’t matter if you have or have not been in places like the ones he describes here, just pay attention and you’ll find a familiar place.
Thank you so much for reading, see you next time!

P.S. The last little fact I want to share with you today is one I think is important to note. As some of you may know, the artist’s name – Ca5 – is pronounced “Kago”. We can read about it on the first line of his Twitter bio: “Ca5と書いて「カゴ」と読みます。” (It´s written Ca5, but it is read “Kago”). I had always read it as “si-ei-five” and I felt so bad when I learned it, but hey! At least I know now!

Esctrax Twitter | Bandcamp

Ca5 Twitter | Soundcloud

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