Let’s be clear: Marietta’s Chris Szkoda, aka Pole Koda, showcases a few good ideas on the An Ideal Heaven EP. In general, the tracks play out like SNES-era video game atmospheres—plenty of polish, exaggerated emotion, perpetual and coordinated motion, repeating figures that drift comfortably with the wandering hero.
The opener almost works on this level—at its busiest, “An Ideal You” evokes an ethereal overworld, a detached dimension existence that may never be explained (like the End of Time in Chrono Trigger). But here and on other occasions, Szkoda spoils the mystery vibe with his “spoken word” passages, delivering monotone phrases like “the restless aura of nearby Indians casts its spell on me.”
Elsewhere, live instruments, like the surging drums that drive the vaguely krauty “Greencastle” and the ponderous bass that anchors the otherwise patchy “The Skin Rangers,” add much-needed oomph. A seriously bangin’ beat also underpins the massaging synth ostinato (Earthbound fans, think of the Sky Runner blasting off) of “Arrivals & Departures,” and rocks so thoroughly as to totally negate whatever Szkoda might be mumbling now.
But that’s the peak. There’s one genuinely serene moment on “Marvin’s Garden” where a thick bass sound dips into cicadas, but the rest is Szkoda striving too hard to set the scene, stuffing in vocals and narratives that dull the sparkling landscape and tumble down to mundane suburban bedrooms.
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