[ALBUM REVIEW] Totemic – “Continuous Cycle EP”

~Tirhakah Love (@GoonTherapy)

I am always struck by artists who are able to quickly produce work that’s ready to be heard by the masses. In the gulf between my information processing speed and the production of work based on said information lies the key to a lot of problems for a writer like myself. I’ve always respected writers who can churn out quality articles in a short period. In much the same way that rap fans love artists like Future and Lil Wayne, guys who have seemingly endless material, I think folks generally respect perpetual output. It’s an unfortunate realization for most of us who work slow but for others, it’s right within their wheelhouse.

Toronto-based artist, Totemic, is one of the latter. Fresh off the release of his last EP, Falling (which I reviewed here), Totemic is back to creating pulsating drum beats with haunting synth orchestra as an ominous backdrop. His new project, Continuous Cycle EP, feels like just that–another insertion within a larger creative process that the artist has given us the privilege of taking part in. On Falling, I found the music itself riveting, but it had no place to go necessarily. That is, the project sounded too narrow in its scope and those constraints really dictated when you’d want to listen to it. Continuous Cycle meets that criticism head-on by being cohesive in terms of directionality.

Taking a gander at the tracklist for this EP immediately suggests a dark, downward, spiral. Opening with “Daybreak,” a sparse and speedy blaze with furious drums. Strings chime in as the pace blitz through an airy backtrack. Totemic intentionally breaks beats, removing spots where drum licks should crack. Small idiosyncrasies like this keep you on your toes precisely because you stumbled in the first place–it re-engages our ears to the slightest intricacies of the music. Mixing in gritty and minimalist vocals about midway through the record, “Daybreak” sets the rest of the project on its steady descent below the depths.

“Swords” and “Nightfall” are the darkest of Totemic’s works, naturally, they’re at the end of the EP. Polyrhythms collapse and rebuild upon one another on “Swords,” as the line between the land and Hades begin to fold. We can feel the pace quicken as the gravel gives way to the fire, melting into”Nightfall,” where, we’ve become more comfortable with the dark. “Nightfall’s” bassline is a head-bopper and the garage drums that open the first verse are light and clever. By the time the violins saunter into the song, we’ve gotten eerily  attracted to Totemic’s strain of bleak. A complete shift from the beginning.

I heavily criticized Totemic’s Falling EP (I was trying to be cute earlier by saying I just wrote about it, but no, I didn’t really enjoy it) but with added direction on Continuous Cycle, I do feel the artist has shown growth even after this short period of time. What’s even more impressive than an artist being able to produce work quickly? The answer, being able to grow even in the midst of perpetual output. It’s an unfair thing to ask of an artist–but some of them can handle the pressure.

Here are some resources to keep up with Totemic:



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