By James Mann
Synthesizers. Lo-Fi futura-funk. Emotion and possibilities. Traversing several decades of sounds through custom and unique soundscapes (dare I say soundtracks) isn't practical, in fact it isn't easy. Whether the music evokes images of late night Euro discotheques buzzing with energy, a pensive solo journey through the streets at night, or just a respite of the mind that has been on continuum since daybreak, this artist manages to dot his talents across so many genres, delivering an emotive EP full of gyrating grooves, lasting melodies and most importantly a thoughtful, deep sense of uniqueness in approach and execution. In Faint Wave's latest release Ocean Drift, the Daytona based artist takes you through his world unapologetically, creating sonic, emotive compositions that touch on innumerable genres and sensibilities that, well come across as effortless. I was going for a kind of light new wave/retro pop feel on most tracks, before my direction changed a bit last minute to be more electronic and jazz infused with On The Coast. Excellent choice Faint Waves, we like your last minute direction.
'Funk Panic' introduces the EP with an electric, pulsating baseline set to lush drums carrying the rhythm. The two fall out of sync by just a step and turn almost into a syncopated sound, then fall back into groove. This strategically touches on the "Panic" of the track, as the frenzied energy that splays out is quickly fused with a pleasing melodic synth and detailed guitars touching on the best funk from the early 80s. ABC comes to mind, and a confidence, strut like groove is formed. Nice intro track, yet only yields a fraction of what this fusion oriented artist has in store for the remainder of the EP.
'Espadrille' is a wonderful composition, starting out with a lush ambience of air that is quickly filled with detailed synth work and a groove that transcends beyond ear candy. Sensible melodies and rhythms build into a monumental track I never want to end. A bridge of guitars emerge from the background and is replaced with the original groove. Unique and satisfying, this piece of work showcases the range of talent and nostalgia Fain Waves has hiding up his sleeve. This is perhaps my favorite track on the EP, and I only wish it was longer. The addicting note placement hits the mind so sweetly, and it's apparent this man doesn't stick to one formula. I try not to follow many rules or limit myself, which can lead things to becoming chaotic and noisy but it can also keep things very fresh and exciting. My music tastes are also all over the map, so I try not to be shy about experimenting or putting different sounds together.
'All My Love' is a highly emotional piece reminiscent of a late 70s Shaft soul-ballad theme. Full of violins, tasteful piano, light drumming coupled with a sensual bass, (and subsequent sax solo which is other-worldly) all of the components for love and romance are in the air. Balanced and thoughtful, this tracks shows the softer side of Faint Waves, which is remarkably restrained. Less is in fact more, as this paced out and moody track takes the listener on a sonic journey through the 70s full of afros and love. The creativity really just flows with the Waves. I just do my best to create something expressive for myself first and foremost. Faint Waves began as a purely creative outlet and that's really it's basis now too. If I'm able to bring to life something that I've conjured up from my imagination, then I think I've done well and have expressed myself wholly, regardless of what it sounds like.
'Evening Street' is a nice ballad opening up with the smoothed, chorus chords of the 70s and 80s, as this artist strives to emulate performers such as Niles Rodger, INXS and Blondie in guitar work. Brassy synths pop on top for a pleasing track that has both momentum, groove and restraint. I can almost hear a Jackson Brown progression, but whatever it is Faint Waves has put his stamp of originality on it. It's so refreshing to hear individuality in approach and execution, and this little work demonstrates that perfectly. I feel the track could have turned into a song with perhaps some vocals, as it clocks in just under 2 minutes.
'Ocean Drift' could perhaps be considered Faint Wave's chef d'oeuvre. This track has everything in it. Synths, guitar, bass and funky drumming that pulls the listener into a classic rock time warp complimented with smoke and lasers. I feel like it's a miniature Who ballad because every instrument and melody is in perfect sync, and that synth lead is quite detailed and impressive. Close to my favorite track on this sweet EP, but Espadrille still takes the cake.
'Lovers Lounge' spills sultry memories and melodies of a late 70s analog Euro horror/romance, perhaps an ending scene or credits. Extremely cinematic, touching on vapor-esque pops with the sax and snare, but again stamped with the patent of Faint Waves. I see him scoring soundtracks in the future. A fitting end to a sweet ride on the ocean.
Ocean Drift is a stellar EP that should join the ranks of any music lover's collection. It encapsulates so much nostalgia and memories in such a short time, (The EP is just over 15 minutes) and I'm sincerely looking forward to the next release from Faint Waves that will perhaps be a bit longer. "As far as current projects. I'm working on a pretty diverse mixtape/compilation called Attitude Propaganda and it tackles hip-hop, electronic, alternative, you name it. It's a fun collection of new stuff from all of my projects and me trying to get some of my friends heard too". He also tells me another Faint Waves release is in the future. This gem is truly a fantastic release, a walk down memory lane with the tonal signatures of the 70s and 80s. You can purchase the album on Bandcamp here, and it comes highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.