Hide And Sequence - Resurrection
By Jazzi Marzcat
Getting dumped sucks. Getting dumped into a garbage dump sucks even worse. That's how Snow, an android girl, wakes up to find herself, abandoned like a piece of scarp metal by her owner, Jax. This is the saga told by music producer Jason Taylor, known as Hide and Sequence, of Perth, Australia. In his albums of incredibly addictive, and awesome electronic music, The Fall, and the currently released Resurrection. While this reviews focuses on the seven songs of the newer album Resurrection, I strongly urge all listeners to also check out the first album, where the story begins. Available on Dark Horse Audio's bandcamp for a "Name-your-own" price, there's no excuse not too! So check it out here.
The song 'Forever' from the first album is highly recommended to be heard, with it's lean towards early 90s synth melodies and beats, reminiscent like that of the band Cause & Effect, and their songs of that time. Most of Hide and Sequence's music does have more modern elements to it than 80s analog synthesizers, but the allure of the science fiction storytelling brings it back to that nostalgic feeling.
Now, unlike the first album, where Snow questions her abandonment, the second album Resurrection uncovers some shocking revelations that she was supposed to have been destroyed, as told in the song 'Skyfall'. While the odds seem against Snow, the music and lyrics in Resurrection, portray her building strength, and courage. Snow doesn't lay down and die, but starts to defend her existence.
The title track of the album states this fully without doubt. A steadfast beat, steady bass, and a strong melody carry lyrics such as "I would rather die. . . in my resurrection", showing Snow's fighting spirit. The songs 'Fragments' and 'Perfect Lie' continue Snow's confrontations of not only against her owner for abandoning her, but also towards the discrimination that Snow is feeling from the society that she is living in, which is evident in the songs 'Skyfall', and 'RX-1000'.
'Fragments' has some cool bendy basses and swirling melodies, and the strong, powerful lyrics, "I want to be more than I was built to be". 'Perfect Lie' has a beautiful arpeggio melody, and nice dance-able beat, bringing a more upbeat-ness to the album, although with the highly confrontational lyrics, "You should have destroyed". This shows Snow is ready for the fight.
'My Darkest Fear', my favorite song of the album, has the best production from beginning to end. Starting out with a symphonic string lead, the hauntingly beautiful melody begins to pick up pace with the lyrics, until a catchy beat hooks in the listener with cool percussion, and layers of synth melodies. The album closes with the song "Breathe", that leaves us on a bit of a cliff hanger. The word "breathe" is repeated over and over again by our heroine Snow, as the song evokes the feeling of the of her will to stay alive.
An effective change in the new album, Hide and Sequence has expanded his storytelling by having different characters continuing the story in various songs, besides Snow's own soliloquies, (which are represented by vocals done through a vocoder). For example, with the first song, 'Skyfall', it starts off with a fast pace arpeggio bass and a crescendo melody, to be followed up by a female computer voice telling Snow that she is doomed for termination. The music and the voice over, enhances the intensity of Snow realizing the deadly depth of her situation. We also finally hear Jax, her owner, and his callus disregard for her survival and search for him, in the song 'Fragments', as if a phone call of his is being overheard.
Lastly in the song 'RX-1000', a female news reporter voice, tells of a robot girl's search for her owner, over a cold, more industrial sounding synth melody. Just shows how much the music, the lyrics, and the vocals are all perfectly matched on this album. Also, if it's hard to follow the vocoder vocals, you can check out the lyrics here.
Hide and Sequence has gone through lengthy efforts to create a believable world, and relatable characters not only through his music, but also with the visuals of the highly impacting artwork by Mariana Britto, and videos directed by himself. A lone girl walking into a car's headlights is the cover we see on the first album The Fall, showing the desperation of Snow's waking into her dire situation.
However, for Resurrection, we see the same girl is being lifted into the sky, her ascension into a new life by her own determination, regardless of the threats against her. This all breathes more life into the accompanying music, that is so fitting to the futuristic scenes depicted in the artwork. You can find videos for some of the songs that make the story even more believable, here.
With a promise of third album in the works, Hide and Sequence will be a name to follow, especially to find out what happens to Snow, the abandoned android girl. Available through Werkstatt Recordings, you can get the digital download here. As of the writing of this review, there are still some cassette tapes available to order also. Resurrection is a very highly recommended release!!
Renz Wilde - Program EP
By Jerry Herrera
Renz Wilde’s latest EP, Program, brings us a more cerebral kind of nostalgia. Instead of exploring the trodden paths of video game and film inspiration, RW takes us back to a time when we were on the verge of a technology explosion. Now it seems strange to be “technophobic” but people were apprehensive about the idea of e-mail or being constantly wired into a global network at one time. Rightfully so, perhaps? Where does technology end and humanity begin if we keep giving way to machines? Maybe we ourselves are merely ones and zeroes in some greater program.
This is a mid-tempo sci-fi cruise, and while there is a lot of familiar synth work happening here, there is also a very interesting, somewhat cold Kraftwerk vibe going on that fits the theme of the EP perfectly. In four tracks Renz Wilde builds a world on the verge of the future, and all the wonder and fear that brings.
The title track and 'Broken Satellite' are the strongest tracks on the EP in my opinion, because they best represent the Kraftwerk-esque sound of machine music made by a machine artist. 'Candy Cane Express' does exhibit a strange warmth in its melody, signalling that all humanity is not lost. I should also add that there is an option to purchase the Program EP with two beautiful posters of the album artwork. For those of us clamoring for more synth related merchandise, this is a welcome stroke of marketing. You can pick up a copy of this great EP form Retro Promenade's Bandcamp here.
Maxthor - Black Fire
Italo Disco is back and Maxthor utilises it to full affect with his debut EP, Black Fire. The EP has quite an authentic 80s vibe and creates a powerful synthscape. Full of emotive lyrics, iconic 80s basslines, synth leads and guitar solos, this album proves to be both accurate to the 80s and a quite affecting EP. Best songs on this album would have to be 'Black Fire' and 'Will You Wait'.
The EP opens with 'Black Fire', which is a cool, danceable and powerful track that'll be sure to get you moving. Next is 'Will You Wait' which is an arpergio driven track with quite a romantic and sombre, sultry vibe, with a glorious guitar lead which makes its presence known early, then retreats to the background somewhat, to make a return later with an powerful solo. Following is 'Colony', another danceable track with allot of heart and emotion, with lush synth leads that are guaranteed to get you moving.
'Flamingos' starts off slow but builds strength over the course of the song and still retains the same power and emotion of the previous tracks. The last song of the EP is 'Just Take Me Home', an Italo Disco interpretation of the song 'Take Me Home' by Henry Saiz. Maxthors rendition does it's own thing, adding lyrics to a mostly instrumental song which effectively compliments the original whilst still being respectful.
Maxthor's Black Fire is definitely worth checking out. From lush synth leads, emotive vocals, and awesome guitar's, Maxthor captures the sound and vibes of Italo Disco. The album is available at a name-your-own-price on Future City Records' Bandcamp here and I would definitely recommend giving it a listen. Also all proceeds will be going towards the recording of Maxthor's next release, so if you like what you hear show your support. Do yourself a favour and indulge in some quality Italo Disco reinvented courtesy of Maxthor.
Fantastisizer - No Way Back
By Rick Shithouse
One of my favourite new talents of 2013 is back with his second EP for this year, it's Fantastisizer with No Way Back. The Fantastisizer synthscape has always been one I find particularly involving. The emotionally driven melodies are always arranged with great care and delicate nuances are artfully developed. On No Way Back we're taken to new levels of synthual intimacy courtesy of Fantastisizer's imagination and this time we get to experience some of the darker colours in his palette.
Opting for open, spatial vistas of sound, Fantastisizer gives epic, background to his intimately instrumental love poems. The opening piece 'Rendez-Vous' keeps a tension in the air with cutting details kept in sharp focus against a marauding background, the follow up 'Mirror Of You' instead lolls buoyantly on seas of swirling synths with fragile melodies playing of the reflections of the clouds.
The darker side of Fantastisizer's psyche comes into view again in the title track which brings passion and fear together amid a swell of synthual nostalgia. These darker tones definitely give a depth to the experience that eschews the surface gloss and betrays a far greater undercurrent of the unknown, beautifully personified by 'The Stranger'.
The final piece resonates with much more positivity albeit in against a backdrop of misty adversity. The brevity of the piece keeps the thought succinct, however with 'See You There' finishing on a wonderfully uplifting note.
Fantastisizer's new EP is another fascinating work of 80s inspired sounds that always feel personal and balanced with the good and bad within us all. A delicate balance is where No Way Back is poised and it will keep you on this knife-edge throughout. You can pick up a copy on Fantastisizer's Bandcamp page here, which I highly advise you do as soon as possible.