CMON is the new recording project of Josh da Costa and Jamen Whitelock. Even as they
established themselves as integral members of New York's DIY scene with their band Regal
Degal, da Costa and Whitelock were acutely aware of how closed off they had become.
As Regal Degal mounted its final tour, with clubs pushing their set times earlier and earlier to
make space for the DJs who followed da Costa and Whitelock took notes. "We were
definitely getting swept further from where we wanted to be and the excitement we wanted
to portray," Whitelock says. "There's such joy in going out and dancing that was completely
missing in a lot of shows, especially in New York. Nobody wants to move, everyone's too
self-conscious. But when you go to the club, everyone's in it-you just want to dance, and
that's all that matters."
The community potential and the promise of physical liberation that came with dance music
spoke loudly to both da Costa and Whitelock, and following the dissolution of Regal Degal,
da Costa set up a new life for himself in Los Angeles-a steady relationship, a pet bird, a car
-and got down to work with a copy of Ableton. Back in New York, his head spun by DJ
Rashad, Whitelock was learning to program, too. They kept their line of communication
open, and eventually Whitelock started making the cross-country trek to work and record
with his old bandmate. They mined the sound they established with Regal Degal, applying
their old band's heavy atmospherics and melancholy soul to four-on-the-floor rhythm grids
and smoothed-out guitar lines, taking production cues from EBM and AOR in equal measure.
If Confusing Mix of Nations is a tour of anything, though, it's not countries so much as psychic
spaces. Each of its ten tracks feels like a postcard from an aesthetic territory worth returning
to. Opener "Coo" begins with locked-in grooves reminiscent of Drugdealer (for whom da
Costa drums) or Mild High Club, until it suddenly gives itself over to a rhythm that's been
chattering away in the back of the track. As da Costa and Whitelock follow its hints, "Coo"
suddenly inverts its priorities and sounds like Miami bass all leaned out for Halloween, then
calmly returns to the opening groove, the only proof of the excursion an excess of delay on
da Costa's vocal. "Peter Pan" struts like it's on its way to meet side two of Sandinista! in its
verses, then glows with New Romantic shine in the chorus. The pop hooks on "Good to
Know" feel like they could set off a festival crowd, but they're offset by a strange hollow
ache at the song's center-a weird sadness that makes you feel a little bad for dancing to it.