Mat Cothran’s digital grassroots success is astounding. He started recording music in his jaded Spartanburg, S.C. bedroom as Coma Cinema some years ago, recently relocating to Columbia. Back in his hometown, though, his recordings fall under uber-lo-fi, skating by on close to zero financial backing.
Posthumous Release, like all of Coma Cinema’s offerings (and those made under the Elvis Depressedly alias, for that matter), is dark—disturbing at times. I mean, it’s called Posthumous Release, despite the 25-year-old artist still relatively kicking in the Carolinas. (His last full-length as Coma Cinema holds the title Blue Suicide, so you know you’re dealing with a dude who doesn’t much dig authority or even hefty responsibility.) It’s morbid, for sure, and goes along neatly with past prototypes he built himself. But one thing Cothran will never be is phony, regardless of how heartbreaking and nightmare-inducing that makes his work.
Cothran lives a classic tortured artist’s life. His tweets evidence some prettyalarmingpersonalsituations and philosophies. His alter-ego Mickey—most represented in Elvis Depressedly stuff (and most notably in this disarming haunter)—echoes a mind-twisting, bleak apathy. Cothran doesn’t bury revelations from bad psychedelic trips. He hurriedly untangles the unsavory cords, sorts them by color and braids a bunch into entrancing new patterns—bottle of Old Crow in hand.
“Virgin Veins” quietly emanates sadness in a very pure way. “So lonely/ So ugly/ And confused/ Virgin veins/ Holds the rushing pain of a past that cannot die” dusts a nearly sexy strum (no, seriously, I can envision dozens of bearded babes playing it while straddling a milk crate, eyes locked on an enchanted soon-to-be fellow denizen of Bonesville). Its subtle despair resonates in an absolutely gorgeous manner.
The album’s first single, “Satan Made A Mansion,” exemplifies Cothran’s expert gloom-pop execution. The lyrics are irrevocably despondent (“Cave into a feeling / Cave into my mind/ Satan made a mansion / For love to live when it dies/ Fuck me in the graveyard/ Confessions always in my mind”), but the tambourine and keyboard summon confused cheer. Followed immediately by a huffy exhale, “Partners In Crime” zaps all joy from the room with talk of cautionary neck kisses. When the album finishes with a titular track, repeating, “I’ve never known someone who isn’t lonely,” it’s a beautiful bummer, and perhaps the most perfect ender for the light-shedding release.
One remarkable difference between Posthumous and all other Coma releases: production. It’s the first album not recorded in South Carolina himself, and Cothran traveled to LA to work on it with folks from TV Girl. The production is clean, purposeful. The fidelity triples—both in the phonic sense and related to his mission.
There’s cannibalism, gore, hard drugs, sinking sadness, demons, suicide (OK, tons of suicide), ravenous sex… out of context, Posthumous Release sounds like a horror flick you couldn’t pay me enough to screen. But combined with Cothran’s bubbling passion and the enormous community (local, national, digital… this dude is insanely skilled at getting folks to fall in love with his work) support surrounding his efforts, it morphs into an audio, artistic homerun.