Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Dust Collective Takes You Into Synthia

By James Mann

In the bustling world around us, rediscovering those once treasured lost and faded memories from your past seems impossible.  Escaping the confines of the day which pulls you through at a snail's pace, propelling your thoughts and feelings into another world. A dreamlike state pouring over every surface and emotion allowing you to experience a home you never had. How unachievable it all seems. The Dust Collective shines the beacon of light and leads you to a place that transcends time, offering attraction and wonder through textured and beautiful melodies in his latest release, Synthia from 30th Floor Records. This album is a stellar achievement for an artist whose work will guarantee synth lovers the highest level of contentment and gratification.

The Dust Collective weaves you through a complex maze of sounds and melodies in Synthia, evoking some powerful memories and emotions this artist has a knack to ignite. Remembering my time playing Nintendo as a kid and recollecting the sounds of Castlevania after hearing 'The Final Electric Funeral',  to the dark, analog sounding synths on tracks like 'Ripper' that put me on a highway at night, cruising until the sun shines. Switching gears, tracks such as 'Skyline Drive' couldn't be more aptly named, the melodies on these tracks are, well…magnificent.

The opening track, 'What Was' instantly appeals to your synth sensibilities with a gorgeous chord progression, talented layering and texturing that makes for a memorable melody you can't stop humming after it's finished playing. The beat driving it all is pure perfection. Flashing visions and then a full on memory of walking home after school on an autumn day so long ago, kicking the leaves and wondering what life was really all about. A true introspective piece that made me smile and remember days I had nearly forgotten.

'Ripper' initially had me brace for a hair raising track with dark and ominous melodies. Ok. I've seen one too many Nightmare on Elm Streets and late nights with Mr. Jason Vorhees. On the contrary, I was very pleased to find a theme of mystery and thoughtfulness in the melodies. Paced out with atmosphere in the opening seconds, the track quickly turns into an immense track full of determination and mood. Is that a guitar shredding and layering over the song towards the end? Most certainly is. I love it.

The next track, 'Synthia' is a short and satisfying arrangement.  Thoughtful, airy melodies that bend synths into a world away from the one you know, this track showcases the talent and capability of this artist. First rate production here. Close your eyes and listen, the Dust Collective has your attention and you aren't going anywhere.

'To Be Human' is without a doubt my favorite track on the album. The bassline and shimmering progressions with a gorgeous lead synth on this beauty are astounding. The song makes me think of love. Putting yourself on the line for the one you adore and who's beauty you revel in, exposing all of your vulnerabilities and weaknesses for that one person. What a beautiful gift to have, and to share at the risk of being rejected? The Dust Collective both reminds and assures us all that this is in fact a strength, 'To Be Human'.

'Skyline Drive' is a real treat for the synth enthusiast. This playful and sophisticated arrangement sets a course through the cityscape at night. It's apparent The Dust Collective knows how to develop a theme and keep your interest, layering the song with glassy synths, pounding percussion and proficiency keeping you fastened in your seat belt for a memorable cruise.

'Catch Me If You Can' blends beautiful chord progressions with sleek bass lines that turn into an overture of sorts. A frenzied synth takes over and moves you in a different direction. 'Catch Me If You Can' lives up to the title, guiding you back down with that sensual melody you can't get enough of.

'Apogee' stands apart from most of the tracks on Synthia. The arpeggiated synths you hear right away makes you realize this artist means business. He creates an ambience of beauty through stylish layering and claps. At the 2 minute mark the track takes a delightful turn. Images of a technician at night, working feverishly to develop the code to save the city from an impending virtual attack while 'Apogee' plays in the background. It's a match made in heaven. The synth work becomes extraordinarily complex and detailed and The Dust Collective has officially blown your mind. Game Over. You've been hacked.

'Stasis' is a robotic wonderland of synths and pounding toms, inducing an almost hypnotic effect with the sitarian like background. The track delves into a deeper side of this artist, authenticating The Dust Collective's ability to diversify his sounds to another level. It's a slowed down track, which proves to be quite enjoyable.

'Circle the City' is my second favorite track from Synthia. Once again, The Dust Collective shines through with a stream of awe inspiring melodies and layering. Vice city squad is out on the streets with a new recruit and the cartel is running. The montage of their formidable work as a team accompanied with slow motion victories is playing through my head. Too specific? Hey…I can't help it. This track (and artist) just does it.

'The Final Electric Funeral' blasts through your speakers with analog heaviness and organ melodies that remind me of the classic Nintendo game, Castlevania. The darkness that surrounds the track is a stark contrast to some of the other tracks on Synthia, and it makes the listening that much more enjoyable. A true winner here, it was a contender for best track.

The diversity in Synthia is astonishing. The tracks blend seamlessly, yet have identities of their own that leave room for your interpretation. One that allows the listener to dream, and I mean big. Having memories or scenarios flash and play through my head when I close my eyes and listen to the deep and developed sounds of The Dust Collective, I escape my 9 to 5 for a while. One of the most beautiful things of the synth wave genre is understanding and realizing the possibilities of the past while looking into the future and how artists shape this concept on so many levels. The Dust Collective nailed this one.

30th Floor Records presents The Dust Collective's Synthia album on Bandcamp here. The album is a necessity for any lover of the genre who can appreciate a diversity of tracks rich with flavor, balance, and impressive production. Synthia comes very, very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.

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