By Rick Shithouse
It only really dawned on me today, while going through my fourth or thereabouts listen of Mitch Murder's new album Interceptor, as to why he's such a stand out talent in 80s inspired synth sounds. This is really because his music isn't 80s inspired at all. Instead it is pure 80s in its make up and essence; you won't find any hallmarks or influences from any modern electronic music or otherwise in the Mitch Murder synthscape and this is one of the facets that is so pure and alluring. Taking authentic 80s sounds from varied styles and genres and combining them in new ways that come across fresh and still authentic is what that Mitch Murder magic is all about.
A new Mitch Murder album is an event. Much like Current Events and before it Burning Chrome the Mitch Murder album experience is an ambrosial pleasure in pure 80s music listening. Interceptor marks the third journey milestone for Mitch Murder and the synthscape created is definitely a natural progression and feels more accomplished in subtle ways that make a big difference.
This. for me as a fan. was a supremely welcome surprise, as in the back of my mind I had a suspicious, nagging feeling that Mitch Murder was in danger of becoming a parody of himself with his music. It wasn't anything I could put my finger on but on some pieces since Current Events I've thought Mitch Murder is trying too hard to sound like Mitch Murder. Now that Interceptor has arrived these suspicions were completely unfounded and this new record takes the Mitch Murder experience in a direction that evolves his music into an effortlessly soulful synth spectacular.
The overall presence of the music is smoother, lighter and ethereal as the classic 80s jazz fusion and library influenced Mitch Murder melodies are taken to a higher ground of nuance and warmth. The familiar tones of 'Saturdays' sets a golden glow, bloomed out sequence of melodies hung by shafts of streaming light. The crispness of the new day air is invigorating and every single element of the synthscape is uplifting; buffeted on warm breezes rich with positivity.
Mitch Murder's music is purely transporting in its capturing of the 80s flavours, keeping the tones pure and honest while exploring them deeply. The inquisitive nature of many of his pieces flit from drama to freeze frame free fall in seconds whilst retaining a flow of molten energy. 'High Performance' personifies these qualities and the boundless depth of the details within each progression illustrates visually and aurally with sharp dexterity all while feeling utterly effortless.
This magical combination of high calibre musicianship that never loses its soul is one of the qualities Mitch Murder has taken into the stratosphere on Interceptor. Melodies are unforced and naturally formed and the drifting elements are choreographed in an unprocessed manner that gives life to the pieces. You feel 'The Touch' and its magical glow in this way and it warms you deeply
A new maturity is felt in the melodies spun by Mitch Murder as the emotions are allowed to dance and illuminate even more than in his prior releases. Although 'Race Day' will be a familiar piece to many fans, the subtleties and richness of notes resonate with feeling eternally. That brand new freshness is an essential part of every Mitch Murder structure and you'll want to revisit that feeling over and over again.
This continues into less well lit sectors in the title track 'Interceptor'. Opting for a slow paced soundtrack ambiance that opens as many doors as it locks we get to delve into the longer shadows and feel the burning within. The exceptionally crafted minimalist synthscape has become one of my personal favourite Mitch Murder styles as it allows the melodies to sing their magic in a totally unfettered and free space. Twisting the screws on these elements towards the conclusive (or inconclusive?) final sections gives the darkness the upper hand. A different kind of intensity than much dark synth fare, but certainly no less moving or menacing.
'Snow Crash' creates more lovingly minimalist aural pleasures only this time casting lightness across the palette. Shimmering with a vibrant light and glacial melodies (especially by Mitch Murder's standards) we get to take a slow dive into the sparkling icy powder with leisurely exploration allowing for a full appreciation of the epic vistas of our surrounds.
The beauty of the mountainous countryside gets traded in for urban electro rockin with the exemplary 'Breakazoid'. I always thought the Mitch Murder sounds were the perfect match for classic electro funk breakdance music and this comes off superbly with energy levels high but the groove cut deep. Catchy refrains are milked for all their worth and more subtle expositions ensure that funk is kept rockin hard.
Mitch Murder revisits the timeless allure of the video game arcade next, channelling inspiration from many classic early 90s Japanese video game soundtracks that are then wrapped up in highly polished gloss, while still harkening back with delightful homage to his own early work. The triumphant tones of 'Thanks For Playing' provides the ultimate theme for your favourite arcade game's credits while you bask in the glory of its electronic defeat.
One piece I'm constantly surprised by on Interceptor is 'In The Fast Lane'. The combination of love-theme intimacy delivered with a jazz funk presentation creates one the purest Mitch Murder experiences I'm yet to hear. The absolutely feather-light synths are like gossamer spun from clouds and the bassline tone is engineered to complimentary perfection. The energy, the flavour, the details; it's all pure Mitch Murder magic.
The tones become even jazzier and livelier in the following track 'Stages'. The classic Japanese 80s jazz fusion sounds get painted all shades of vibrant colours and the interplay between the lead synth melodies and the drum tight rhythm section becomes the essence of 80s excitement. The smoothness of the production gives this an especially prominent 'live' feel and comes across like a jam session of highly trained musicians, feeling the love and energy for their music flowing and weaving wizardry through every element.
The minimalist approach returns with the musically vast 'Nocturne' that plays out as a follow up to 'Interceptor' beautifully. The mood is no longer fraught with darkness and instead sends ethereal Siren's calls, mysterious and inviting but balanced with solemnity. The beauty of this track is bracing and entrancing. The grip holds firmly and the deeper you go in the more fragments of the story you'll discover with a final chapter that is stunningly wondrous.
The mystery doesn't end there though as 'Nocturne' is followed up by the deep atmosphere of 'Traces To Nowhere'. Shades of Twin Peaks return and begin to materialise into the synthscape with Mitch Murder allowing the bassline to dictate the action with strings and synths providing deep, rich flavours. The presence in this piece is undeniable and the relaxing soul of the music becomes metaphysical in its shining grandeur, completing the album perfectly.
To say this album is superbly crafted and incredibly rewarding to experience is quite the understatement as everything that makes Mitch Murder's music so wonderful has been developed considerably on all levels throughout Interceptor. The huge variations in sounds span vast amounts of musical space while making every composition intimately personal and you can feel the love and emotion invested by the composer through every beautiful second.
Mad Decent presents Mitch Murder's Interceptor album on iTunes here and it's also available (in my own personal fantasy realised) on double vinyl with a bunch of other kick arse goodies on Mad Decent's site here currently for pre-order. Mitch Murder's Interceptor is a stunning example of how beautiful and imaginative 80s sounds can be and is a bona fide Synthetix Reference Experience. This is the record that will make 2014 a very special year for lovers of the highest quality 80s sounds and will no doubt usher in many new devotees to Mitch Murder's own brand of synthesized musical magic.