Album Review: Mosa – Ruminations & Adaptations

Ruminations & Adaptations is the new album from Oxford-based artist Mosa (real name David Ashbourne). Drawing from a suite of unusual influences, the album offers a fresh take on alternative rock.

By Graeme Smith

Feature photo by Joe Nadin

From the stuttering, experimental opening of track one Shut Off/Shut Down, you can tell you’re in for something a little different with Ruminations & Adaptations. The sound quickly evolves into melodic rock with gruff, passionate vocals and poetic lyrics. It’s a great start.

Track two Empty Vessel brings more experiment and I was reminded a little bit of Muse in their Muscle Museum era. It creates a fantastic atmosphere of the macabre and uncanny. One of the themes of the album is the idea of embracing the negative and the absent and Empty Vessel certainly ties into this theme well.

David is a former member of Oxford folk rock band Samuel Zasada and his folk background comes to the fore in track three Sharing The Light. Driven by piano and percussion, it feels like a folktale, but electric overtones, becoming particularly prominent at the track’s climax, anchors it to the alternative rock of the previous two tracks.

And that’s perhaps the most impressive thing of the album. There are a lot of genres in the mix but things don’t feel discombobulated.  Rather they seem to provide different perspectives of the same conversation and it all comes together nicely. Track four The Surface slows things down and softens them considerably from the album opener but they both feel like steps on the same journey, just over different terrain.

At the album’s half-way point, the unexpectedly electronic Rattle My Cage answers the question of what happens when you combine classical and folk elements with math rock and drum & bass (spoilers: you get something that shouldn’t work but does). It’s an album highlight.

The album’s second half starts with the gloomy six and three-quarter minutes odyssey Next Words before leading into the bass-heavy folk rock Call Our Own Names. Grey Areas is a minimalist electronic interlude and Fade Away is an acoustic blues meditation. In less than twenty minutes, these four tracks seem to run the full of folk, rock and electronica.

With all this genre exploration, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from the album closer Til The Fire Dies. What I got was a slightly jazzy ’80s-style ballad of course! It’s a particularly introspective moment in a highly introspective album and David’s vocals are at their most charismatic against the low-key instrumentals. It’s another highlight and closes the album beautifully.

Mosa is an act that throws genre on the bonfire and grows something completely new from the ashes. Ruminations & Adaptations is perhaps the most creative and unexpected album I’ve heard for a long time. I can’t recommend it enough. You can check it out below.