By Rick Shithouse
There are few acts in the worlds of retro sounding synth as revered as Noir Deco. The name is synonymous with the highest calibre soundtrack and dark soundtrack synth music and has been for one hell of a long time. Much like the beloved Miami Nights 1984, Lazerhawk, Mitch Murder, MPM, FM Attack, Alpha Boy, Palm Highway Chase and others; Noir Deco are true legends of the 80s inspired synth sounds. It could also be said that Noir Deco were the instigators of the entire modern take on dark synth sounds that is very actively pursued today and their influence echoes directly through many current producers.
Although we're only talking a few years here, with the original Noir Deco releases having come out in 2011, their influence seems much more entrenched. The originators of any sounds will always have a reverence of resonance and the Noir Deco presence has been something felt by many since those original releases. It is a testament to their work that with virtually zero releases for the last three years just how important the Nemesis Collision and Future Fantasy EP's were and still are.
Noir Deco have remastered and re-released these EP's along with a whole new album's worth of new tracks to create one monolithic release as, what they themselves are calling, their debut record. A massive amount of diversity is explored across the thirty three tracks; as one would expect and for those new to Noir Deco I can see this being all a tad too overwhelming to take in all in one go. For those long term fans it will be much easier to digest through the ample stock of very familiar classic tracks which are now given a new shiny lustre as well as a 'home' amongst the other pieces.
Having this exorbitant amount of music in one mammoth package means that the Noir Deco experience is now given the gravitas worthy of their massive spectrum of synthscapes. This is one of the very few soundtrack oriented releases that gives itself enough room to fully explore all the textures and moods that the music can convey without any need for visuals. I think that this is part of the reason we're given so little supporting media with the music. This release contains one piece of artwork, no liner notes, no other conceptual art whatsoever and no real explanation about anything. After waiting years for this release and it comes in such a no-frills package one is then open to making entirely individual impressions of the music without any predetermined guidance.
In some ways the lack of hype and other accoutrements we expect with an album release of this much value is a refreshing change of pace. I, personally, love getting caught up in the weeks of hype, poring longingly through artwork and press releases and then having a 'story' to back up an album, even if it's a personal story from the producer themselves, or the full blown experience with videos, text art and merchandise. Noir Deco's release is the complete antithesis to this practice; hell, the album doesn't even have it's own title. The group have decided to let the music speak for itself and this is really all that matters when it gets down to the essence of what we're all here for.
If I wanted to get categorical with this album I could technically arrange the record into two worlds. The first world is the still timelessly spectacular vision of darker 80s synth sounds done with modern details which we know as the classic Noir Deco style. The older tracks remastered on this album sound just magnificent as they did the first time around with a craftsmanship in the songwriting that is refined to perfection and are now joined by new experiences in this realm. So many classics are given new life and their presence seems even more magnified in this ultimate incarnation while the newer tracks forge ahead with boundless energy.
The other side of the album moves into a more strictly atmospheric soundtrack sphere. Sounds become minimalised and experimental. Lingering passages of single chords and scant percussion set epic scenes before unveiling their true shapes in perfectly scripted set pieces. In some ways the newer tracks give the familiar style Noir Deco pieces more of a 'place' as within the album's structure each part flows from one thought to the next without jarring or becoming lost in the line up; a trap that could have been easy to fall into if the quality wasn't quite there in the music.
But that's really my point about this album. The quality is there, it is felt in each piece, as our feelings are commanded by electronic rhythms and melodies. Noir Deco never fails to create a moment that then becomes something intimate, something that speaks directly to you and then guides you even deeper into their world. There's something deeply meditative about much of Noir Deco's mystique, the synthscape's wavelengths, even when darkly brooding, are glowing with emotional powers, able to walk the line between life and death, man and machine, good and evil and the known and the unknown with pristine clarity and vision.
This album takes you away. It takes you to the past, to the future, to the depths of your imagination and then to furthest reaches of contemplation. The Noir Deco experience broadens the scope for many aspects of 80s inspired soundtrack synth music while also focusing in tightly on what the essence of the music is all about. The pacing and structuring of this record is sublime and as a complete experience it is virtually peerless due to the vast amount of work that has taken this long to bring to its ultimate evolutionary form. Is this the beginning of a new chapter for Noir Deco? Or is the Noir Deco experience now complete? I do hope these questions eventually get answered but for now I'm elated to have this wonderful album as a complete experience that invigorates me on all the levels this music can.
Noir Deco present their self titled album exclusively on CDBaby here for digital download only. Noir Deco are one of the main reasons Synthetix.FM exists as those early releases by the new pioneers of 80s sounds are what began my love affair with this music. To finally have such a comprehensive volume of pure Noir Deco magic in one epic extravaganza of synthual delights is just totally rockin to the max. The wait has been rewarded and Noir Deco deliver a Synthetix Reference Experience that is thoroughly awe inspiring and entirely deserving of my highest accolade.