Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dance With The Dead Move You Out Of Your Body

Theres been a tonne of music released this Halloween, it was always going to be a struggle to cover it all but there were some releases that have been 'event releases' in their own right. The second massive blockbuster of this Halloween (after Lazerhawk's Skull + Shark) is the long awaited debut album by Dance With The Dead; Out Of Body.

I've been following this act since Jaypeau's first experiments with 80s inspired sounds earlier this year and it's been a wild ride to get to this point. Much like Lazerhawk's latest record has been an epic journey so to has this one. Throughout the year we've been teased with tracks, demos and previews, all pointing to this album release. I must say, I really enjoy this process, Lost Years (who has just released a new record too) follows this style as well. The interest is kept high throughout the year and the end result feels like a road the fan and artist have travelled together, making for a hugely celebratory finale to this particular adventure.

The styles of Messrs Dance With The Dead has evolved along this passage of time and throughout 2013 ardent fans have been privy to these evolutionary changes. Initially a much more traditionally OutRun sound was the modus operandi, this then took a turn to the more grandiose soundtrack style and structure and with the addition of ToeKnee to the line up the final incarnation saw the inclusion of guitars as well as sharpened slash electro edges to the experience. This has made Out Of Body a diverse yet well themed package and all the set pieces line up as if destiny had prepared them for such auspiciousness aeons ago.

One can't help but succumb to the darker elements Dance With The Dead allow to seep and sometimes flood into their music however the duo have ensured this remains only a segment of the actual experience. Tempering the fires of evil with poignant melodies and energetic flourishes when needed while still being able to pull back to more delicate elements and keep the focus on the staple ingredients of each track. After hearing many of these tracks previously, and now being able to hear them in their ultimate format, I find the familiarity allows me to dive deeper into the make up of each piece.

After the introductory scare-piece the rockin tones of 'Robeast' awaken with a monstrous surge of electric energy and thundering omnipotence. This track was one of their more recent teasers and as an opener is sets fire to the synthscape with volatile synths and dimension tearing guitars. It's like going from 0 to 1,000 in a nanosecond with G-Forces assailing your senses with an intensely bludgeoning melee. The aural ambiance is heavy, heavy like lead. Thick with anger and hell bent on obliteration.

The structures of the pieces is one of the strongest parts of Dance With The Dead's music. It's all well and good to deliver this point blank intensity, but without a purpose to it a numbness is sure to follow. Exploring the musical landscape and drawing stories and possibilities is what this duo do best. One needs only get one minute into the incredibly rad 'Fracture' to be whisked away on emotive synth melodies that give contrast to the artillery like percussion. The pulling away of the threads and exposing the inner workings of the music allow them to create completely entrancing set pieces that are microcosms of rich synth brilliance.

Much like many of the best producers in the scene Dance With The Dead balance the modern and vintage on a razors edge, often with the emotional context of the 80s being used as opposed to authentic passages. On tracks like 'Thrasher' one is taken into a much more traditionally 80s synthscape with massively dramatic changes and excitement that is as pure as it is intoxicating. The lead melody is dripping with reverence to 80s emotions and coupled with the arse kicking guitars and drums makes for something that is an epitome of modern and vintage combinations.

Dance With The Dead can reign things in, and they do this regularly throughout the album as pieces of more subtle context are slotted between the violent synth storms that punctuate the landscape. These aural oasis take on forms that strike with a velvet glove rather than a megaton hammer. Their intensity remains high, the title track of the album introduces ghostly spectres that haunt with peaceful intentions instead of violent ones. Thankfully these pieces are not of a perfunctory nature and are explored with as much detail as the more explosive tracks.

As the album moves into the middle tracks the stories and relevance of other previously experienced tracks are now given much more importance. 'The Deep' does a fantastic rendition of slow motion OutRun that is then taken to new, loftier heights courtesy of the soaring guitars and shooting stars. In fact, the mid section of the album is almost completely devoid of slash electro elements in favour of bolstering triumphant melodies with imaginative builds and ethereal constructs. 'Dancing On Air' makes the mood ever so slightly darker, but it's a much more introspective contemplation and once again capitalises on the beauty of the melodies driving the experience into wonderfully verdant synthscapes.

Ironically or,  more than likely, intentionally 'Only A Dream' shatters previous hypotheses with a roaring rhythmic engine of vast power being unleashed in a synth and guitar fury. I absolutely adore the guitars in this record, possibly the best implementation I've heard of guitars in 80s inspired synth music, and this track just rocks that idea all the way through with riffs and solos detonating non stop in an all out attack on the senses that is thoroughly righteous in the most rockin manner.

The emotional depth of some tracks is what gives them all their allure, though the intensity can be packed at an atomic level there is always the beauty of the melodies that Dance With The Dead allow to create their own magic around. 'Hell Ride' is full of spritely melodic passages that resonate deeply while the Devil's own bassline recites diabolical incantations in another dimension of musical space. Everything ties together though, and the stories are always clear and sharp, never trite or forced with the balance of good and evil always making for intensely entertaining chapters.

The back end of the album ramps things up considerably as incendiary elements combine in turbulent synth melodramas. 'Cobra' rocks into oblivion and back with break neck speed, hell bent on disaster or glory and taking no prisoners in the process while 'Mr Terror' adds a cinematic flair to the proceedings while retaining a force of unknown origin and intentions as orchestral passages combine with the shredding guitars and dancing synths in a sublime sonata of stygian surrounds.

On 'Zombie Night'  and  'Stitch' we find Dance With The Dead treading on much newer grounds with a much more modern aesthetic that dominates the soundscape. The vintage elements are limited almost exclusively to the melodies and much of the rhythm sections and percussion are devoid of their vintage details. This brings a different intensity that I feel just loses a little bit of the magic lustre present in the other tracks on the album. The combination of eras is something Dance With The Dead really do very well, but the compass guiding these two tracks just seems a little off the true direction. That said they're both still rockin tracks, full of energy and rockin thrills.

The final piece on the album is possibly my favourite track by Dance With The Dead thus far as a new intensity that slows things right down and focuses the melodies with diamond clarity. 'Sunset' has one of the most moving melodies I've heard in 2013, the combination of tear inducing grace and rolling thunder-like power is an awe inspiring combination. The drama of the piece is taken to incredibly vivid extremes as each rise and fall is detailled to absolute perfection. A fitting end to a totally rad album.

The journey for Dance With The Dead in 2013 has been on I've feel honoured I've been able to experience first hand. The trials and tribulations of their musical adventure has bore fruit that is full of new exciting flavours and transports the listener to new worlds of possibilities where new and vintage sounds exist in wonderful harmonies. Out Of Body represents a huge experience of so many fantastic chapters that are so insightfully played out that it's hard to fault in the slightest.

Dance With The Dead present the Out Of Body album on their Bandcamp page here, Synthetix.FM wholeheartedly recommends this album to all fans of 80s inspired synth, it is truly a Synthetix Reference Experience. The elemental alchemy that Dance With The Dead conjure in every track is brimming with emotional intimacy and unbridled and intense excitement. The combinations of new and vintage sounds are thoroughly explored and, most importantly, understood and implemented in a way I find completely entrancing. I hope you, too, get to Dance With The Dead and allow them to take you out of your body to beautifully realised synthscapes of stunning distinction.

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