With a long and diverse music career already behind him thanks to his time in Philadelphia group The Reds, Bruce Cohen has had plenty of time to hone his craft and find the sounds and styles that work best for him.  Blending soulful ambiance with upbeat and inspiring funk rhythms, Cohen’s solo career has shown both personal and professional growth and an undeniable steady evolution – Cohen is certainly not one to rest on his laurels when it comes to the music he’s so passionate about and his ambition and passion for what he does is once again displayed for all to hear on his latest album Five BC.

Opening with Groovatronic, the collection gets off to a positive and upbeat start, thanks in particular to the impressive bass-line while the synths aren’t overpowering and add a sort of audibly shimmering effect to the track.  Follow up Kaiju meanwhile features more of a modern, hip-hop/R&B style beat, gradually building, as its predecessor did, to a synth fueled climax.

Music fans familiar with the likes of Brian Eno – among others – won’t fail to recognize the rather distinct sound and style of Saturn Drift, which plays out almost like a homage to one of Cohen’s biggest influences, while Silence is perhaps the most ambient of the tracks on the collection; the swirl of the synths alone are enough to make you feel as if you’re being taken to another place (you can decide where!).  It’s just one of those tracks that’s perfect for listening to after a stressful day or when you’re just needing to tune the world out for a while.

Adding a perhaps unexpected flare to the album at its halfway point, Electric Samba is almost certainly the one inclusion that’s sure to have listeners fighting the urge to dance along, whenever they are or whatever they’re up to and for this reason alone, it’s a highlight of the collection.  With its uptempo and down-right funky groove, it all but beckons listeners to hit the dance floor or let loose in the kitchen (maybe not in the car though) and the percussion led rhythm is so good it’ll stick with you for days and have you smiling.

The title of the next track might be Somber, but don’t be fooled – it is in fact another toe-tapping electronic little number with instrumentation and a rhythm that’ll be hard to get out of your head.  Mixing ambient and house – a combo that shouldn’t work, but somehow does here – with yet another mystical, magical sounding melody – it’s a musical testament to Cohen’s ability transport a listener elsewhere in just a matter of minutes.

While most of the inclusions on Five BC are upbeat and uplifting, Sunday is something else entirely. Coming in at almost half the length of the longest tracks on the album at 2 minutes 43, it’s easily the most secluded and sparse feature.  With little more to it than a cello-led (or what certainly sounds like one) synth, it’s solemn and hymn like, but also haunting and lingering in its simplicity.

Closer Requiem flashes back to the ambient sound and style of Silence, but that doesn’t mean they’re anything alike. Instead, Requiem is likely to stick with listeners purely because of the hold it’ll have on them – imagine staring up at a star filled sky with a magical melody playing in the background and you’ll be somewhere close to how this track made this reviewer feel (content and uplifted with a new sense of peace within herself and with the world) when she heard it.

While many bands and artists today might often seem in a hurry to release new material, at times long before it’s truly ready, with this album in particular Cohen has taken all the time he’s needed to perfect each track, as demonstrated by how he only gave each one a name once it was recorded and ready for the world to hear.  The end result is an album of complex, hybrid sounds that although due to several tracks being more than six minutes in length and therefore potentially off-putting to those more familiar with more radio friendly, 3 minute music pieces, somehow come together and work in harmony to create what is easily Cohen’s best work yet.

Rebecca Haslam — Stereo Stickman

   (Rebecca Haslam is a music journalist, feature writer and editor based in the UK.)