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EP Review

Circumjacent by Liquid Modern

Author: Cocaine for Toothaches

(the following may or may not have happened.)

I walked out of the Parisian rain and into a secret, underground, illicit, rebellious dance club.  Never had it been my thing in the past, but I was drawn in by the siren groundswell of low frequencies I could feel outside, even if I couldn’t properly hear much.  The vibrations had cut out shortly before I found the door; I muttered some broken French to the effect of  “J’ai un peu de je ne sais quoi, je m’appelle le Marquis de Sade” and somehow gained entrance.  The disc jockey was changing out CD’s and making some adjustments to the makeshift sound system.


“The blackened glass windows rattled with ferocity, and their rivets were being liberated from their moorings”


When the music returned, I was greeted with a soft synthesizer and lilting voice.  But when that kick drum and synth bass hit—everything changed.  The blackened glass windows rattled with ferocity, and their rivets were being liberated from their moorings.  The low sounds seemed liquid, filling up the place with impossibly smooth motion until the building became an aquarium ready to burst from the pressure.  But even as the clandestine club seemed to be vibrating itself into oblivion, I was able to hear the faintest hi-hat ticks with precision, the subtlest filtered piano with clarity.  I was enthralled.  I didn’t care that the environs were crumbling; I had to hear more.


Liquid Modern won’t stand still, and they can’t face in one direction for too long.  Do not be fooled, this is a strength.  This husband and wife team, made of Thom and Kojette, draw from their depth of influences, and they focus on different ones in different measure in each project.  This gives each album its own life, its own flavor, its own identity.  Each release is therefore an event, because we never know to what we will be treated.  There is no “Liquid Modern sound” nor a “Liquid Modern trope.”  Their versatility seems boundless and effortless.

Circumjacent is 90’s dance/house all the way:  a departure from previous recordings that touched on Euro-pop, fully fleshed-out synthpop, punk, and a few various cover songs.  It’s not often one can find satisfying richness in a three-song EP (with two instrumental versions included as a bonus).  But here we are, with enough gold from a trifecta of dance tracks to bury on a Caribbean atoll, as rum-addled privateers.

So when I first put this album on, the first thing I noticed was how clean it sounds.  The bass sounds are really full and deep, but don’t ever get in the way of the other elements, which are quite delicate.  There is room for everything and everything is audible and clear, and this was achieved without making the high end harsh and overcrowded.  These are the hallmarks of a superior mix and master, which were accomplished here.  Liquid Modern (mixing) and Von Hertzog/The Social Club (mastering) have absolutely come up spades.

“ we are, with enough gold from a trifecta of dance tracks to bury on a Caribbean atoll, as rum-addled privateers.”


“The Rake (Summer Lies)”

So much instrumental ear candy abounds.  All the instrument parts really help to move and drive the track along in a danceable way, so that Kojette’s vocals can float atop, languid and bittersweet (apologies to D. Fagan/W. Becker for stealing their perfect phrase).  Kojette’s vocal performance, a mix of natural and pitch-shifted sounds, combines with the minor-key melody to really impart an ethereal feel.  As with dance tracks that aren’t pop tracks, there’s no emphasis on development of structure or left turns, it’s loop-based—with the interest derived from oscillating dynamics in and out of that loop—so as to not interrupt the hypnotic trance.  I can see party-goers getting a transcendent high just from this track blasting through a club sound system and dancing; no chemical augmentations are really necessary.

“On The House”

This instrumental starts with a jazzy guitar chord introduction, with a heavily-chorused tone—not what I was expecting on this record.  Then, the very strong dance kick enters, letting you know we’re not in (a) Kansas (speakeasy) anymore.  A bubbly synth bass eventually enters and departs.  An organic-sounding piano, complete with pitch warble, comes in and continues the dichotomy between the natural and the mechanical.  There are more built-in spaces to breathe here than on “The Rake,” understandable being an instrumental.   All things considered, these ingredients make for an interesting and engaging dance instrumental, which considering my background, is not a sentence I really ever utter.  Bien fait!

“When You Think”

The bass synth in a triplet feel juxtaposed with a classic four-on-the-floor percussion rhythm creates a nice swing feel in this song.  Kojette’s voice stays up towards the top of her range with this melody, which really seal the ionospheric vibes.  At one point toward the end, a sixteenth-note synth enters, but changes chords on off beats to maintain a displaced swing groove.  The organic piano makes another appearance, albeit much more subtly this time.  I can imagine the allure of wanting to make her voice robotic here, but proper restraint is shown, thus saving the track from being diminished by a cheap trick.  I could really hear many other producers resorting to that, and it just wouldn’t work in this song.  

The lyrics in the first and third tracks aren’t really anything too remarkable, but that’s not really the point of this record, thus my hesitancy to even delve into them.  This EP is not about intellectualism or social reform:  it’s about dance, it’s about a hypnotic feel, it’s about getting speeding tickets because I have this playing in the car and I’m instinctively hitting the accelerator pedal in time with that driving kick drum (I may or may not have been gifted a speeding ticket while under this album’s hypnosis).  Plus for DJ’s, the inclusion of the two extra instrumental versions is a nice gift.

So, class, to summarize (yes-take notes, this is on the test):

 – If you like to dance, get this album.  

 – If you like to fall into a trance, get this album.  

 – If you like to have a little extra rhythmic motivation to get you through your day, get this album.

 – If you like having the dance club shake apart at the seams, get this album.  

 – If you like music that sounds technically excellent, get this album.  

 – If you like speeding tickets, get this album. * 


 Circumjacent released on October 19th, 2022 and can be purchased here- 
Find and support Liquid Modern:
twitter:  @LiquidModern
mastered by Von Hertzog   
twitter:  @Von_Hertzog

About the author:  Coke has been around music a long, long time.  As a child in a family of musicians and in-and-around a family-owned studio in the 1980’s, he has seen the ups and downs of the music scene and lifestyle.  He plays/has played several instruments including piano/keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, and even dabbled on low brass and drums for a bit, as well as being a bang-average vocalist.  Coke studied (and won departmental awards in) composition, theory, and classical guitar performance during undergraduate work, as well as taught private guitar lessons for children and adults.  He spent ten years (up until the pandemic) as a superstar guitarist/bassist/musical director in the CCM world, before crashing down to earth, humbly surrendering all that non-existent fame and fortune for the quiet life.  He now endeavors on synthwave-adjacent music, working as a shipping boss, and living with his wife and (some of) his six grown children in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, USA.
  • Editor’s note- Please drive responsibly, especially when listening to dance bangers 

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