AG Cook’s “Apple” Displays Artist’s Production Talents

After+producing+music+for+a+plethora+of+famous+artists%2C+A.G.+Cook+released+his+own+album.+%28Courtesy+of+Facebook%29

After producing music for a plethora of famous artists, A.G. Cook released his own album. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Ed Lucano, Contributing Writer

Production is the foundation of modern music. Artists’ accolades are often paralleled by those of  sound engineers and creative minds behind their breakout singles and greatest hits. Just before the bass drops, the 808s punch and the instrumentals ring, an ethereal voice descends from the heavens to signify the calm before the storm: “Sonny Digital,” “Yo Pi’erre, you wanna come out here,” “If Young Metro don’t trust you, I’m gon’ shoot you.” From producer tags to signature beat styles, musicians like Sonny Digital, Pi’erre Bourne and Metro Boomin have made themselves stand out and garnered their own celebrity statuses. 

Hip-hop and rap aside, one artist has no need for labels like producer or beatmaker, his talents transcending these characterizations. Not only is London’s own A.G. Cook the executive producer of Charli XCX’s last four projects, but he is the founder of British synth-pop record label PC Music. With an impressive background history of collaborations with Tinashe, 100 Gecs and Janet Jackson, it was only a matter of time before Cook came out of the woodwork to drop two of his own albums in the last month. The latter, “Apple,” is a 10-track dive into Cook’s brand of eclectic aestheticism that is unique to say the least.

Opening with “Oh Yeah,” Cook aims to set a precedent of a synth-laden early 2000s-style pop punk ballad with a keen slowness that is calming yet somehow disheartening. This precedent is effectively shattered with the glitchy chaos that is “Xxoplex.” If Skrillex produced a soundtrack to a Eurovision-themed Mortal Kombat rip off, it would pale in comparison to the hyper pop garbage shoved down your throat four minutes into the LP.

Once you take an aspirin and clear your head a little bit, “Beautiful Superstar” takes listeners on a sad, self-realizing journey with a beach rock electronica twist. This sense of still introspection is further perpetuated on “Haunted.” It could be marketed as a pitch-shifted, heartfelt Bon Iver song without anyone batting an eye.

My favorite song off the album has to be “Stargon,” despite my initial dislike of it. The song’s extreme speed of sound and powerful drums are juxtaposed by a surprisingly smooth transition into a slow pop dreamscape, only to transition again into a slightly faster beat progression that could be the background music of a coming-of-age movie climax.

This album is so outlandishly strange that I genuinely cannot tell if I enjoy it as a whole right now. It is expertly produced, but sometimes Cook’s talented input does not necessarily reflect his output. Bits and pieces are very interesting to hear, but its cohesion is questionable.