By Jerry Herrera
One of the basic truths about synth producers, I think, is that they all love a good story. There are very few producers out there that don’t have a narrative quality to their music, and this is neither good nor bad, it’s just a choice. But when one considers the roots of synth and retro, films and film scores are the taproot. A great synth track tells a story or creates a vivid image; it takes us on brief journeys into endless worlds. LA Based producer, Neon Overdrive has brought us Runaway, an album full of these delicious bites of retro future storylines.
Runaway begins with 'Saturday Night', a midtempo track that has some ominous elements but ultimately evolves into a very ethereal track with soothing vocals that carrying the listener deeper into Neon Overdrive’s story of revenge. A 'Narrow Escape' is one of the strongest tracks on the album; again Neon Overdrive has a great handle on creating thick, heavy curtains of synth but also creates a breeze on which they ripple and writhe. It makes for a uniquely atmospheric listen.
There is a brief break in the album for some lighter outrun style tracks, 'Baja Escape' and 'Welcome Home', but things get right back to business with 'Last Days' and the album really hits a high point from 'Transfixions' on through to the last track. 'POWERLOADER' and 'Necronomicon' are synth homages to two great movies, and since I’m a xenomorph fan, the former gets my vote for best track on the album.
As an entire experience, Runaway tells a cohesive story with antiheroes and heroines, danger, brief moments of levity and detailed settings and backdrops. There are car chases, violence, love, loss and revenge. Even when sampling other films, Runaway manages to tell its own unique tale and I always appreciate a story where LA is in ruins.
Sometimes I think that the dark, gritty synth sound is becoming a bit overdone but Neon Overdrive manages to bring something refreshing to it. Not revolutionary; but necessary, maybe something like another shot of whiskey to that drink you were nursing. Perhaps it’s because his sound isn’t overbearing or aggressive, but smoother and fluid like ink in water. Flowing and seductive, but pitch black.
I greatly appreciate that Neon Overdrive incorporates atypical elements into his tracks and isn’t content with following the basic synth track formula. There’s lots of innovation to be had on Runaway and I’m so happy we have another Los Angeles based producer contributing his talents to the genre.
The Neon Overdrive presents the Runaway album on his Bandcamp page here and it comes highly recommended by Synthetix.FM