Thursday, February 6, 2014

Nowtro After Dark

Nowtro's been producing music since 2004 and over the last year he's been composing with a penchant for classic 80s sounds with contemporary arrangements with much success. I've been covering his work since mid 2013 on Synthetix.FM and his debut EP, After Dark, has landed recently with a resounding thunderclap of power that demands attention.

This producer's style is lends it's self to the darker end of OutRun in some cases while also exhibiting a great skill in delving into deep exploration of poignant melodies. In a similar style to Lazerhawk, Nowtro manages to create music that is new and old at the same time with vintage 80s emotions working with a production style that puts massive emphasis on the dramatic in both sound and arrangements. There can be a brutish angle to some of his music which is then tempered by delicate melodies with a resulting atmosphere that is heavy and powerful.

I think heavy is a really great descriptor for the Nowtro synthscape. Not just in the sounds either, his skill at creating a heavy and foreboding atmosphere is another well used weapon in his armoury. The opening track to After Dark shares the same name as the ever popular 'Tech Noir' nightclub from Terminator and this is where Nowtro sets his stage and gets his point across in no uncertain terms. Synthister emanations spill from the shadows and throb into life, hungry for power, consuming vast amounts of  voltage in a frenzy of unstoppable menace. The lead melodies are searing to the point of cauterisation as each writhing chord twists in a display one simply can't look away from.

The raucous power of 'Tech Noir' is switched a gear in the machine like 'Seeker'. The unstoppable beat ushers in spiralling melodies that speak of wonder and hope amidst a completely bleak landscape. The desolation is tactile, with darkened, decaying ruins that were once cities becoming humanity's tomb. Sparks of life ignite, and rise, joining together in a refrain the makes the insurmountable seem achievable.

Nowtro cites many 80s films score, including John Carpenter's work, as big inspirations which echoes resolutely in the incredibly compelling third track 'The Long Long Ago'. Whispers grow into resoundingly uplifting melodies that are full of beauty and fragility. Nowtro's heavily contrasted synthscape with it's megaton percussion and merciless basslines constantly fighting for power over the finely detailed melodies is breathtaking. And in this piece it's almost verging on Synth Romance with it's deep passion which is purely delectable.

Energies become more focused in the slow motion OutRun piece 'Midnight Drive'. The pace is kept under control but the synths are allowed to accelerate into explosive and exciting new directions, through tight chicanes and hair raising hairpin turns. Intricately explored passages ensure we don't miss any of the action and instead of becoming a blur the scenery liquefies into a sweeping slow motion panorama. The contemporary arrangements emphasise the action but the soul of the 80s burns deep and bright within.

The titular 'After Dark' completes this EP and brings in a wonderfully introspective opening passage that builds into a crescendo of synthual pleasures. Haunting and emotive, looking back into the past with regret and yearning for a future to build towards. Each note of hope is answered by more voices for the cause. Climbing upward, to the warmth of the sun, out of the abandoned concrete devastation.  Rays of light are met with reaching, outstretched fingers and hope becomes a reality. We're not beaten yet, but the road ahead is long and full of perils...

Telefuture Records presents Nowtro's After Dark EP on their Bandcamp page, here at a name-your-own-price point. This dystopian vision of a future where man has lost is not an uncommon thematic in the 80s inspired synth scene, but rarely has it been explored with such frailty and beauty. Nowtro resists the urge to go overboard with the darker aspects and in doing so adds a dimension of humanity that I found inspirational throughout the five chapters. Synthetix.FM very highly recommends this EP and  I hope you dig deep when purchasing this album to give Nowtro some well deserved appreciation for such a finely constructed release.

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