Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Miami System: A Space And Time Created By Action Jackson

Action Jackson is back with a kick arse new five track EP, Miami System. I've always been a big Action Jackson fan as he's a producer that manages to create very individualised soundscapes that take unexpected turns and bend reality with a finely skewed perspective. One of my favourite Action Jackson tracks is the stupendous 'Analog Ending' which speaks volumes about this producer's genre defying soundscapes and makes for one of my favourite re-envisioning of classic 80s sounds with all new directions and flavours.

There is something about Action Jackson's sound that is definitively 80s, but the the motifs and hallmarks of the Action Jackson experience are like an alternate-reality to the 80s. A vision that is full of colour and geometry, but also off kilter and unbalanced, like a permanent heat haze through a negative reality. The Action Jackson experience is a glimpse at the 80s through alien eyes, tuned to new frequencies and dimensions, one of which is the Miami System.

There are usually comparisons drawn between Com Truise and Action Jackson based on the way sounds are bent in a vaporwave manner, but there are huge differences between the two producers that extends into nearly all facets of their styles. Action Jackson's approach to songwriting is much more narratively based and true to the 80s synth styles, whereas Com Truise uses synth sounds in a more modernised architecture, both creating very different aesthetics.

This becomes very obvious from the opening track, entitled 'Start', which instantly climbs with pulsating arpeggios and glimmering synth melodies. The magic in Action Jackson sounds is that he can twist and distort melodies without making them abrasive or crushed out of recognition. 'Start' has a lead melody that is warm and inviting, it moves sideways through dimensional limitations and takes the listener into unfamiliar territory but never in a threatening way. Stepping into the Action Jackson synthscape like like easing into a pool of unstable time.

Much needs to be said about the constructions Action Jackson weaves around his melodies, though built from apparently unstable elements they manage to bind and intersect with each other beautifully without degenerating or losing their forms. 'Coke, Palms And Money' divulges a strong rhythm section with synths free forming in bright layers over the top. The pace is a slow canter, adding to the intoxicating haze the melodies bestow, while still being deliberate and keeping things under control.

Once 'Beach Casino' kicks in it becomes obvious that tones and times have changed and brightly luminescent synths speak of more wholesome sun drenched past times. Shades of synth romance can be felt through the lead melody and the narrative goes from day to night and all the excitement the evening affords. This piece is a superb mix of truly classic 80s visions which have been altered by a magic that alters times and places into new manifestations.

Moving into the fourth act, 'FM Rack 2000' takes a diversion into high energy electro. There is much less mind altering alchemy used in this track, but there is an undeniable Action Jackson hallmark running throughout it's short duration. I wish this piece was expanded into a longer one as at just under two minutes in length it feels like a tease. Perhaps this is the intention, though. To allow only fleeting glimpses at possibilities, like a shooting star illuminating the night sky briefly but being captured by our imaginations for eternity.

The title track, 'Miami System' complete the EP and it's back to some of the most rockin and complex arrangements Action Jackson has conjured up. Staccato basslines phase in and out of reality with synths  creating shimmering mirages of melodies, intimating their intentions before disappearing again behind magical aural veils. There is a very live-jam feel to this track that is hugely engaging and makes for the perfect finisher to the experience.

Once again Action Jackson has delivered something special and original that takes the constructs of 80s inspired synth music and turned them into a creation that is polished and new, but full of vintage influences. It's the alien familiarity of Action Jackson's sounds that are so much of the attraction and Miami System takes this to delightfully rich new levels.

Aphasia Records present Action Jackson's Miami System EP on their Bandcamp page here and Synthetix.FM very highly recommends this release. If you want to take a trip into the Twilight Zone of 80s inspired synth music, let Action Jackson take you there and alter your views and ideas with a musical reality of his own creation.

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