Carmouflage Rose - A Night With No Moon (Review)
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Following his 2018 debut EP ‘Taste’ and the release of ‘Sele’ and ‘Million Styles’ in 2019, Zimbabwean-born, Brisbane-based artist Carmouflage Rose has released the masterful ‘A Night With No Moon’. Executive produced by James Angus, with additional production from Lazyeye, BLESSED, Jyayo and Shyne Knox, the project blends countless genres whilst demonstrating Carmouflage’s supreme confidence at tackling multiple styles.
The EP plays out like a mini-album, with a concerted thematic drive and consistent aesthetic that is maintained throughout the 7-track runtime. Specifically, ‘A Night With No Moon’ unravels as a depiction of an ill-fated night out that steers Carmouflage Rose through a love-worn romance that feels destined for its demise. Alongside Angus’ impressive production nous, Carmouflage’s performance across the EP is an astounding listen from an artist who is truly just getting started.
‘A Night With No Moon’
It’s a night with no moon. Another night in an all-pervasive darkness. The EP begins with an atmospheric mood-setting interlude as we prepare for an uncertain, yet oddly familiar night ahead.
‘Powerplay’ explores the emotion of being trapped in two minds, stuck between desire and the reality of falling into someone else’s emotional trap. The track features lively synths and trembling vocals from Carmouflage Rose that perfectly compliment the production from Lazyeye, James Angus and Shyne Knox. Indeed, as Carmouflage says, “Something’s wrong, but it feels right”.
'Drown' embraces the dance-fueled energy that Carmo intended for this EP. As a listener, you are wholly submerged into a feeling of trance by the production and stuttering vocals and invited to release your inhibitions and dance. Speaking ahead of the EP’s release, Carmo observed that the project “was basically just [me] trying to dive deep into my feelings I used to feel when I’d go out and the emotional rollercoasters of being on the dance floor.” An apt description of the mindset behind the EP, an EP where on ‘Drown’, Carmo is taking a stand for himself as the night continues into a familiar direction.
The night progresses into the tipsy stage, with the blur of the horns and 808s pounding in your chest. There is a temporary rush of elation as the track encapsulates the disorientation and pure dopamine rush when you start to lose your inhibition. Drunk thoughts are making Carmo feel like there’s still a relationship to save; “I’ll be running searching for your heartbeat; I can feel your energy around me.” ‘Tipsy’ features production from James Angus, BLESSED and Lazyeye, who opt to employ a captivating trumpet loop that instantly draws you in.
‘Blame’ ft Yaw Faso
‘Blame’ brings an afrobeat flavour to the EP and steers the night in a direction which sees Carmo trying to make up for lost time and in an effort to reignite the love. Melbourne’s Yaw Faso brings an energetic melodic performance to his feature, echoing Carmo’s thoughts by expressing a willingness to take the blame for the relationship’s failings just to have a second chance.
‘Crash and Burn’ ft Gill Bates & Napolean Cummings
For me, ‘Crash and Burn’ is the emotional peak of ‘A Night With No Moon.’ Carmouflage takes a more serious tone in his verse, ruminating on the inevitable downfall of a one-sided relationship. The production from James Angus is constantly evolving as the track navigates this downfall. Angus balances multiple tonal shifts in the production with awe-inspiring sophistication beginning with a reverberating bass and progressing into a sombre violin and a yearning guitar solo. The track features Gill Bates and Napolean Cummings who go back-and-forth with Carmo on the chorus to make my favourite track of the album. The essence of the track, and the EP ultimately, can be encased in the lyrics: “you got me smoking, drinking, over-thinking.”
Finally, as the night comes to an end, and the inevitable has become reality, Carmo is left with a bittersweet feeling. “Addicted to your poison, it’s bittersweet, it’s killing me” he says as the warm, inviting synths have a familiar feeling and lead you to sense that we are back where we started. Throughout the EP we are presented with this hyper self-awareness from Carmo juxtaposed with an overwhelming sense of helplessness, with Carmo expertly nailing the feeling of being in love with the wrong person and being lost within a cycle of pain.
Truthfully, ‘A Night With No Moon’ is an astonishing listening experience. A stylistically fluid project accentuated by Carmouflage Rose’s variability, the EP’s power lies in the fact that hidden behind the dance-inducing aesthetic is a deep heartbreak and yearning for connection. Carmo addresses the feeling of remaining trapped in a toxic cycle, an which can be felt by the listener whether they are listening to it front-to-back or back-to-front.
When asked about the impact of a reinvigorating trip to his native Zimbabwe on ‘A Night With No Moon’, Carmouflage noted that it was: “Just [about] understanding culture and basically who I am as a person… Going back home I was just reconnecting. And getting to see your family and their situations reinspires your drive. Sometimes you lose motivation because you’re only in your own world. Working with the producers over there and getting their melodies and their rhythms of how they do stuff was very interesting.”
Undeniably, the journey back to the country of his birth stimulated Carmouflage to approach this project as being stylistically in-touch with his roots. The well-balanced and smooth integration of these influences is a testament to the in-studio chemistry between Carmo and James Angus in that the pair are able to emulate the exact feelings Carmo has seemingly revisited again and again. Ultimately, ‘A Night With No Moon’ represents an evolution of Carmo not just as an artist, but as a human being who has seemingly broken free of an all-consuming deadly love.
Words by Amit Pala & Matthew Badrov
Published August 11th, 2021