By Rick Shithouse
There is sometimes a veil over music produced in the 80s inspired synth scene. A veil that obscures reality and gives an impression that distorts it. The veil that can convince one that they are actually listening to actual music created in 80s is like the uncanny valley of synthwave and Professor Zonic Zynth is fabricating this veil by the yard in his new album Cybernetics.
Unlike the uncanny valley of CGI the synthwave equivalent isn't unsettling or repulsive but is instead glorious and creates a parallel universe of musical possibilities. The Professor has been ardently pursuing the recreation of the truest 80s forms in relation to synth based 80s soundtrack music and in Cybernetics I think he's cracked the alchemic code; spilling nostalgia in smoke filled neon waves of refined aural gold.
I can't really give this record a track-by-track review as I'm oft to do on Synthetix.FM. I think that compartmentalising the tracks does them a disservice as they really create the most magic as one complete experience. This isn't just creating soundtrack oriented music; this is properly written scoring. Scoring for vision that doesn't technically exist yet surely inspires visions worthy of a great late 80s action sci fi blockbuster.
Right from the beginning though, from the Professor's own studio ID, we're taken into a world of action, love, lust, danger and deception. The tight control exacted over Zynth's tools of the trade becomes evident immediately. The tone of the opening tracks are absolutely refined to a crisp brilliance. The power and drama of 'New Los Angeles' is utterly dominating. The scene is detailed within an inch of you actually seeing it and to add even more to the experience the guitar tracks sing like a vocalist; heartfelt lyrics in chords and notes wail over that desolate concrete jungle backdrop.
The opening chapters of Cybernetics bridge the old and the new that typified this era of late 80s soundtrack with mirror like homage. The electronic elements from contemporary music mixing with the dramatic cues of synth based scores then layered with cool, jazzy guitars makes for an all encompassing feast of flavours that are smooth and languid when they need to be and also fiercely energetic when required also. The construction of pieces like 'Urban Mayhem' are so smooth flowing and organic they breathe with life amid the bustling street level humidity.
The Professor knows exactly how to make tense drama a tactile musical experience, using the bassline to fake left as the percussion lands peppering blows and synths pace menacingly in the background. His use of hugely varied toms add tribal fury to the synthscape and guitars that once whispered sweet nothings can be turned into vicious weapons and then reduced to a weeping aftermath.
For all the intensity of tracks like 'Neon City Lights' and the stunning 'Air Strike' I find the most rewarding music on this album to be the more spaced out experiences. Zynth has a free-form approach to his pieces that gives them life and colour, jamming seemingly innocuously only to then bring moments into tight focused set pieces. The instruments used can vary greatly from track to track but everything is always in-decade, you just have to bear witness to the jazzy late 80s R&B sounds of the delightfully titled 'Boobie-Trapped' to get that 88 groove running deep and cool.
This is where the real genius of Zynth begins to become apparent. You are presented with so many varied scenes of genuine 80s sounds that are engineered to vintage perfection and beautifully convey both the familiar and the brand new in that glorious uncanny synthwave valley. 'Grand Elevation' really sets this off like a time bomb as given more time to coalesce and gel its elements together creates a power of immense synth splendour.
The back end of Cybernetics allows the Professor to tie the musical plot lines of the previous chapters into a penultimate climax. Instruments are used like characters, taken advantage of, double crossed, out for revenge and then yearning for justice. The final scenes are just so rockin to the max that you'll want to hit rewind on your VCR and enjoy it all over again. The veil now somehow becomes completely transparent and all the matters is just how much fun you've had along the wild ride into Cybernetics.
Professor Zonic Zynth presents his Cybernetics album on his Bandcamp page here in the usual array of downloadable formats. Cybernetics is another fantastic record from this massively talented artist, one that expands his skill set even further. I can't help but wish this entire soundtrack was cut to existing vision to complete the whole experience, but on the other hand, the way this record inspires and ignites one's imagination is a more than enough of action filled roller coaster ride and comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.