The evolution of a producer's sound is something I'm always aware of. Upon debut it's rare for a producer to already have uncovered their own individual style. This takes time, and numerous releases to establish. I see lots of producer's in the 80s inspired still scene with much talent still yet to find their 'voice'; but someone I can no longer put in that catergory is Protector 101. His follow up to LA Cop Duo is the Robocop themed concept release The Prime Directives and this is a huge evolutionary step in the Protector 101 experience and one that sets in concrete the sound and individuality of his work.
When considering what is the hallmark of quality soundtrack themed synth music that is based on the classical 80s style I'm of the firm belief that a spatially uncomplex sound is of massive importance. A sound where nothing is lost and each layer counts and matters. True soundtrack music is there to complement, not overpower, to enhance, not dictate and to speak without screaming. The moods and feelings of the visuals are always at the forefront of the musical delivery and as with other similar releases that are conceptualised from an existing movies or genre of film, the elements that aren't in the orchestrations are just as important as the ones that are.
Which brings me to The Prime Directives. These five chapters aren't just inspired by Robocop, they are intrinsically linked to that cinematic experience. From the outset, even the Intro piece, sets a stage that is coloured by gleaming blue steel, stained by past memories, and a feeling being a puppet; controlled by powers beyond our own cognitive thoughts. Theres a sadness and helplessness that echoes throughout, be it through the instrumentation or arrangments, the feeling of being alone in a world that has created you yet you are unable to relate to.
Protector 101's honed his skills at composition to a razor sharp edge. As Serve The Public Trust ambles into view the ebb and flow of soundshapes glow and dissipate with a rhythmic sway. This piece is supremely uncluttered and allows every detail to be experienced up close and personal. This five minute track feels like it's about two minutes long as it's hypnotizing melodies fully entrance the listener. The airy feeling of being under sedation, unable to focus, but still aware of one's surrounds allows one to float through the beautiful melodies. The repeated sample refrain and lead synth in this track are truly magical to experience.
The second chapter opens in a far more deliberate and mechanical manner. The robotic pulse of the hi-hats and build of the instruments take us into a more familiar Protector 101 sound. The mood is powerful, but hints of darkness that could easily have taken this track into a much darker territory give way to a sweetly jubilant lead melody that becomes what the entire experience hangs on. It's perfectly implemented and is a step in bold new direction.
There are always hints, murmurs, and details of dark synth in The Prime Directives, but it's always juxtaposed with a brighter soundscape. In Uphold The Law the melancholic and uneasy arrangements are contrasted by a soaring and elevating melody, this is again the perfect synthscape to complement the torture of Robocop himself; torn in different directions unable to exist in either. This is felt deeply in the movie and this track especially conveys these emotions.
The revalatory last chapter of The Prime Directives takes the EP into shades EBM fuelled synth work, upping the energy level and clouding the synthscape with staccato loops and machinegun-like percussion. The feelings that were once obscured are now clear as a focus is brought to view. A focus that this crystal clear in what will become the new definition of justice. Again the sample work is inspired as Protector 101 is very selective in what he's used. There are so much well revered dialogue from Robocop it must make it hard to use anything without it sounding trite in delivery. But here, once again, the simple looped sample makes for a supercharged experience that fells authentic and calculated to perfection.
The Prime Directives is a must-have release for those devoted to the 80s synth soundtrack genre and to every Robocop fan as well. This is a glorious homage to the original movie and is a bona fide stand alone experience also. Protector 101 has definitely made his own niche in the 80s inspired synth scene with this EP and I hope it's something we can experience again, with even more surprises, in the future.
Aphasia Records presents The Prime Directives, available on their Bandcamp site here. This is most definitely a Synthetix Approved Experience and I encourage everyone to support Protector 101 in his latest venture.