Cohen Hartman is no stranger to the Baton Rouge music scene, serving as a member of dreamy pop band Neon Mountain and as a former member of Cohen and the Ghost. Currently, he is expanding his sound with the premiere of his solo album “Color is Fading but the Night’s So Bright,” which gives a subtle means of evolution for the Baton Rouge musician.
On this latest release, the Neon Mountain member presents a back-to-basics approach for his ambient sound. “Color is Fading but the Night’s So Bright” is a new introduction to Hartman and a much-welcomed debut as a solo artist. Composed of eight tracks, focusing on airy leads, this is the most complex sound we’ve heard from him yet, and it serves as a showcase for his distinctive style. Hartman’s technique is one that reaches into the depths of your brain, filling an empty void.
Written, arranged, performed, produced, and mixed by Hartman at Spiral West Studios (except for “Strange Happiness,” which was mixed by Slade Templeton at Influx Studios in Berlin), “Color is Fading but the Night’s So Bright” isn’t focused so much on speed as it is on the atmosphere. Hartman’s music gains momentum from a feeling that it could go on forever. His style of abstract tones paints a dreamy landscape that transcends into waves of harmony. It’s a style that’s so good it’s hard to believe it comes from a hometown Baton Rouge man and not from out of the studios in Los Angeles. There’s a lightness to Hartman’s playing that makes “Color is Fading, But The Night’s So Bright” an easy and addictive listen.
The opening run of songs on “Color is Fading, But The Night’s So Bright” are dazzling examples of Hartman’s mastery. “Antarctica” and “SunDowners” are charming and subtle, conjuring images made of vibrant color and picturesque landscapes. His focus on bright, open leads allows his melodies to fill the songs with a floating undercurrent, shifting the atmosphere of the songs like passing clouds. “Another Place, Another Time” picks up with a loose pattern with a peaceful accompanist consisting of birdsong. The textures in Hartman’s songs sustain the record, creating a sense of trance-like rhythm.
The album is sequenced neatly into distinctive movements to explore a territory of synth that Hartman has covered best, creating a picturesque series of ambient pieces. The album’s high points include “Future Cloud,” which finds Hartman’s chiming synth notes building to a sense of immersion as the space between each note fills with ghostly reverberations. The following track “White Door” creates a cozy, percussive effect with enchanting lyrics.
The album closes with two pieces that wrap things up with a feeling of renewal with the pulsing weirdness of “Strange Happiness” and the spacier tribal tones of “Colors.” The album’s synth experiments suggest that this approach of “Color is Fading, But The Night’s So Bright” could open new horizons for Hartman. With “Color is Fading, But The Night’s So Bright,” he’s refined two years’ worth of growth into a solo record that feels as refreshing as summer rain.