Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Synthetix Review: Lazerhawk - Visitors

Lazerhawk's second album entitled Visitors has just landed. A space themed flight of unconstrained proportions that bends time and space itself across the thirteen compositions that make up this album.

It's often said that second albums from artists are evolutionary, not revolutionary. That the sound evolves as the musician does. It's more often the case that an artist re-invents themselves in a revolutionary manner in their third or fourth album, when breaking new ground and expanding their horizons.

Visitors from Lazerhawk is revolutionary. It's sound, aesthetic, mood, production and almost every other facet is a complete revolution in the sound we've been accustomed to on the Redline release from early 2010. I adored Redline and played it front to back, back to front many, many times over the the last year or so, I thought I knew who Lazerhawk was and exactly what he was about, but after having Visitors on repeat for most of today I've experienced a whole new dimension to what constitutes Lazerhawk's work.

From the opening theme we are treated to powerful, emotionally charged sounds. The sky fills with swirling lights and sounds. The atmosphere becomes electric and in a blinding flash we are embarking into the expanse of space. The sheer power of the sound is something to behold, setting the tone perfectly.

One thing that is immediately noticible, right from the first track, is the deliberate and restrained pace of the the experience. Nothing is rushed, songs evolve in their own time. There's no haste, and no rush in taking in all the dimensions of the sounds as they wash over us. We can appreciate the sound because we've been allowed to, I don't know how many times I've heard beautiful hooks or melodies or arrangements that are over just as they begin, having me wish the artist had expanded more on the idea or even repeated it, rather than just move to the next one. Visitor's tracks allow for full contemplation and contentment of every single nuance.

Spread throughout the album are three "Distant Signal" pieces. These excusursions provide narrative, and context in our journey. Often experimental and noticibly different in mood to the main tracks, the Distant Signals add even more depth to the album as a whole and bind the tracks together into a truly thematic sequence; telling a story beyond words and providing brilliant context to the concept. Distant Signal 2 with it's cassette tape bias production and rock laden electric guitar, as if recorded from some distant interplantetary radio station is a work of genius.

Lazerhawk's disco love isn't forgotten on Visitors. Those, like me, who loved the classic 70s disco coloured pieces on Redline will not be left wanting. There is much cosmic disco laden music that shines like the brightest stars in the sky, benefitting greatly from the more atmospheric production that is the nebula holding the the fabric of space together.

There is nothing sterile about the sound on the entire album. It all feels very live and organic, a feat difficult to get right, but the balance is always perfect. The swirling synths and powerfully rich percussion are engineered in a way that envelopes the listener through it's many layers, it's a beauiful soundscape that is as surreal as it is real.

As a soundtrack, I think Visitors is a perfect example of a movie that doesn't need visuals. The journey is complete and the experience is one of total immersion. It's rare for me to listen to an album that is so complete in how it is listened to. My imagination has already created the vignettes to each track. The lovel lorn So Far Away belies a totally different story to the previous Shoulder Of Orion, and takes us into a romantic sidestory which then forms the basis to Distant Signal 03, a transitional piece that then takes us to the action packed Disco Planet. The entire album plays out like this, a masterclass in the idea of the concept album.

I need to make special mention to the track Star Hustler however. A space opera double cross that provides one of the most mindblowing experiences on the album. From the bass line to the absolutely perfect guitar track this is a totally engaging composition that I can't get enough of. The deliberate pace, the layering, the melodies, the contrast of sounds. It's just totally perfect and captivating, and is one of those tracks you can feel yourself coming back to months and years from now to recapture those cosmic feelings.

As a second album Visitors takes massive strides in displaying the diversity and talent of Lazerhawk. This is brilliant exponent of 80s inspired synth flavoured with disco touches and atmospheres beyond our previous conceptions. A truly stellar release that will provide countless journeys through the stratosphere and beyond.

Lazerhawk's Visitors should be bought from his Bandcamp as soon as possible, and please show him some love and appreciation on his Facebook and soundcloud.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, must check out the rest of this blog! Cheers from Rosso!