Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Nightsatan And The Loops Of Doom

Nightsatan are one of the 80s inspired synth acts that I really always hoped I got the chance to cover on Synthetix.FM. These purveyors of modern reminiscences on classic 70s and 80s synth horror soundtracks were instantly one of my favourite discoveries in 2010 when I first came across their marvellous mix of sounds. It was their Midnight Laser Warrior album (still available for purchase on iTunes) of that year that captured my imagination with its mixture of progressive 70s sounds, 80s synths and a good dose of metal influences in their energy.

Indeed, Nightsatan seem to market themselves exclusively in the metal-arena, calling their musical style Laser Metal. A quick hunt around the internet for the sites that covered both this release and their first are predominantly metal oriented. The Nightsatan synthscape, however, is one that is well at home in the 80s inspired synth scene as much of their soundtrack oriented pieces are positively dripping with glorious vintage synth sounds and arrangements that Dario Argento, Umberto Lenzi and Mario Bava would be elated to accompany their grimmest giallo sequences.

The four year gap between Midnight Laser Warrior and Loops Of Doom has seen a huge tightening up of the Nightsatan sound. Melodies are far more refined and dextrous and the heavy handed production of their first release has given way to a spectacular and deeply polished atmosphere for this brand new record. Not only do we get this latest project as an album but Nightsatan And The Loops Of Doom is also a feature short film that the soundtrack is an expansion of.

For the first time on Synthetix.FM I get the pleasure of reviewing a visual and aural package that combines to create something altogether rockin on a whole new level. The creativity of this group and their execution in this package has been worth the wait and raises the bar entirely on what soundtrack oriented synth music is as a purposeful art form.  

I've shared the trailer for Nightsatan And The Loops Of Doom in a previous Weekend Update, but it bears revisiting to really get you up to speed on the epic nature of this project.

One thing I'd really like to point out, right from the outset, is that marvellous self-effacing level of purely exploitative rockin that appears in the short film is massively contrasted by the thoughtfulness and delicacy of the soundtrack. Also, the actual movie portion of the package contains (at my estimation) less than a quarter of the entire music soundtrack presented on the album. The music is used sparingly with the visuals, mainly for effect and set pieces, often truncated from the full tracks that appear on the soundtrack album. In essence, what you get in this package is a short film which actually comes across as a promo for the soundtrack album. This concept may be a tad baffling, but the movie of Loops of Doom is much more a hype-piece and teaser for the main course which is the soundtrack itself.

The movie side of Loops Of Doom is a simple story that doesn't need to be fully explored and dissected and is instead an over the top cavalcade of post apocalyptic violence flavoured with all my favourite denominations of cheese. You'll get all the things you wish for in classic exploitative cinema, including gore, nudity, and spectacular one-liners. Often all at once. The crux of the idea in Loops Of Doom, for me, crosses over from the post apocalyptic fantasy Nightsatan create and becomes very 'real world'. The idea of being tortured by sound, and it stifling ones creativity, enslaving you in invisible bonds that take over control of you entirely is something I'm guessing many producers of music reading this will relate to directly and Nightsatan's nightmarish vision of this in another dimensional circumstance will bring forth many wry smiles I'm sure.

In realising this vision Nightsatan have created their own totally rockin personas that are superbly drawn out with characters that are a great deal of fun. From Inhalator II's perplexed expressions and lustful yearnings to Wolf Rami's complete nihilistic disdain for everything and Mazathoth's otherworldly powers there is a genuine magic to image of Nightsatan. I'd also like to complement them on keeping all the language in Italian, for even more giallo authenticity and Mazathoth's robotic vocoder voice, swearing in Italian is my new favourite linguistic combination of all time.

Nightsatan And The Loops Of Doom's twenty four minute cinematic feature is really only the introduction to the soundtrack album however. Once the actual album kicks in a higher plane of existence is achieved by Nightsatan as a group and their music then begins to speak much more eloquently for itself.

Opening in an unhurried and wonderfully enveloping manner the soundtrack begins with 'Lost Karelia', which impresses very quickly with its vast and spacious synthscape that is utterly gorgeous in tone and progressions. Elements of many classic late 70s synth producers haunt the atmosphere but it's Nightsatan's own magic that illustrates the aural vistas before us. These slow paced and epically constructed pieces are the heart of the Nightsatan experience, and the control exercised in commanding these lumbering giants if synthual energies is truly enlightening to experience.

Keeping the synthscape as refined and focused as possibly allows Nightsatan to weave spells around the listener that then becomes an all encompassing force. One of my favourite aspects of the Nightsatan sound that was prominent on Midnight Laser Warrior is revisited on this record with a new purpose and power. This being the speeding up of passages to initiate dramatic climaxes and emphasise the melody's power, which reaches new heights on '(Obey) Thy Master' and is used with much success throughout the album.

The overall sense of doom and foreboding that Nighsatan instill in their music is completely balanced by a beauty that is felt in the subtleties of the instrumentations. Sleight, distant melodies whisper softly and then rise to uproarious vocalisations of incredible power. The evolutionary nature of much of Nightsatan's work give the genuine feeling of that epic journey into unknown worlds. The sheer illuminating power of refrains like those in 'Secret Of The Mystery' are like the opening of galaxies above and a great outpouring of cosmic metaphysical energy. It is an epiphany, an experience that captures and explores how incredibly powerful this magical music is.

One becomes very aware of fantastic level of craftsmanship in each track upon this record, as their simplicity and production is often what conjures the most vivid visions. Numerous atmospheric pieces that are wholly used to set and illuminate a singular idea are used with graceful brilliance; never losing their focus or direction, and always conveying their ideas with musical finesse.

Even more surprising on this album is the diversity of synthscapes the band explore. The atmospheric pieces are contrasted with energetic progressive sounds and one of the real high points is the utterly intoxicating 'Inhalator II Love Theme' which takes synth romance ideals to new levels of sublime intimacy. This passage in particular is one of the single most incredible synth journey's I've ever been taken on, such is its stunning emotive power.

Another level of engagement is achieved on pieces like 'Rejects Of The Wasteland' where the journey is a self contained group of set pieces that are rich in their storytelling and traverse aeons of musical territory with building sequences that are then exchanged for high action sequences where the atmosphere becomes even more intense. Nightsatan always keep the beauty of their melodies a priority and it is these vintage progressions that are what ties the entire soundtrack together.

The entire package is just so rewarding to experience with this release that it really redefines what this music is all about and its relevance. Nightsatan have made a visual extravaganza that ticks so many boxes for fans of 70s and 80s cinema and then goes and takes that idea into the stratosphere and beyond with an incredible album that is so well constructed and complete that it creates an entirely new vision for the music. The understanding and homage to classic sounds and arrangements are tempered with a modern polish that paints an extraordinarily vivid synthscape; one that I hope you to journey into deeply.

Nightsatan And The Loops Of Doom is presented on Svart Records here in a beautifully designed digipack containing the DVD movie (with a great lot of extras) as well as the soundtrack album on CD. This record is truly a Synthetix Reference Experience as the combination of the wonderfully exploitative cinematic feature combined with absolutely astounding soundtrack make a for package that entertains and engages on every conceivable level.

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