Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Visiting Galaxy Z With Prof. Zonic Zynth

By Chris Day

I love synthwave, but I love it even more when it sounds different or creates a new style of experience. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat rare for me to be able to single out one producer over another when it comes to style. Add to the equation that I love soundtracks as well, particularly electronic scores ridden with a science fiction atmosphere. Both points being stated, I was quick to get hooked onto Prof. Zonic Zynth’s Galaxy Z album.

The spacious atmosphere to this project by the unsigned producer is worth it for any interplanetary fans out there, and the producer evidently doesn’t seem to mind having different rhythm choices than the typical 4x4 kick drum beat, a definite plus in my book for the sake of variety.

Each track begins with a number, explained in the first track, '00 Intro;, which dictates the underlying story to this concept album. Several ambient drones and effects lie in the background as a female computer voice explains the deteriorating state of Earth and the listener’s choice of where else to live. Though not the strongest opening track I ever heard to an album, and personally never being that big on spoken word songs it did set the scene and provide a little bit of an explanation for the title choices.

'01 Mercury' is the first full-length track in the album, and, correspondingly, the first choice to migrate to. Borderline-suite in sound, it does not stay on a fixed key or time signature, reminding me vaguely of the ideas expressed not only in Frank Zappa’s 'Jazz from Hell', but also in the messenger god the planet was named after, in light of all of his various duties in Roman mythology.

Evidently, the choices of planets we know of in our own time are out of order for this album, so instead of the theme for Venus, we continue with '02 Jupiter'. The guitars are a nice touch to the track, adding some variety to the ambient effects and chords, and the use of the TR-808 certainly breathes new life to the drum machine by using it in a genre other than rap or hip hop.

'03 Mars' begins with another spoken word sample, but this time I enjoyed its implementation more. The Prophet VS choir kicks off the melody with an eerie tone alongside seventh-based rhythm notes. The glittering sound to the track is terrific, as is a synth guitar lead toward the middle of the track, though I question its relevance to the named planet, which was considered a threat to early xenophobes to the point that it was named after the Roman god of war. Not to say it’s bad music at all, however.

'04 Venus' is among my favourite tracks on the album. I love the choice of digital synth bass in this electro track, and the synthesized string ensembles and bells give a nice passionate feel, which fits with the planet named after the god of love.

I recently started listening to some authentic 80s electro, and '05 Uranus' was quick to remind me of that genre. While the snare drum isn’t that punchy, the gated reverb clearly applied to it makes up for it in sounding authentic 80s, and the orchestral hits, vocal samples , and brass only further add to this pleasant illusion, as well as a synth vibe reminding me of Sylvester’s classic 'Rock the Box'.

'06 Neptune' is a little more nu-disco in sound, but still retains the electro sound that defines this album as a whole. The filter sweeps easily give an impression of dripping water, which fits with the planet well not only because of its blue color, but also because of the god of water whose name was given to it.

'07 Pluto' is among the fastest tracks in the album. Listening to the beginning, it didn’t sound that desolate to me, what with this arguable planet being the furthest from the sun, and then I heard the bell synth lead and echoing synth brass. A great surprise within the track, and even ignoring that, it’s great theme music.

Having skipped Saturn for some reason, we now move onto worlds beyond our own solar system. '08 Dark Moon' is the first choice of these. It’s pleasant to hear another user of a certain Synclavier sound beyond Michael Jackson in his hit 'Beat It', and sure enough, its sound is very spacious and therefore fitting for this album. The flanging tom fills and dark melody blend in very well for the name as well.

'09 Nova Star' is dominated with bright DX7 electric piano chords. While not what I expected for such a literally stellar name, it works very well. He also effectively points out how bell-like the tines can sound in higher notes once the beat kicks in.

'10 Phobos', the final choice for migration and therefore the closing track for the album. The delayed synth sequences over pads sound very desolate, as if to say that we’ve made our decision where to go, at the cost of leaving our old Earth for good.

In general, this is album is a very pleasant and entertaining experience for fans of outer space oriented synth sounds. It is a stellar collection of tracks, both thematically and metaphorically. Prof. Zonic Zynth presents Galaxy Z from his Bandcamp page here as a digital download and is very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM!

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