In an ongoing attempt to bleed my opinions all over your computer screen, I’m selecting one album from every year that I’ve been alive that has some sort of significance to me…and then writing about it. Welcome back to 35 Albums in 35 Years.
Okay, so I’ve already done 35 albums, but there have been plenty of great releases this year too, and I’ve kind of gotten used to writing these things over the last nine months, so let’s pick one. Shall we?
The growing niche sub-genre of 70’s and 80’s film score-inspired, electronic synth-pop created by analog synthesizer enthusiasts and horror soundtrack fetishists has seemingly invaded every nook and cranny of my mind and home over the last couple of years. Beginning with my discovery of the synth-prog rock band Zombi and the many side projects of the duo’s Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra, I have been tumbling through a veritable rabbit hole of different artists and sonic scores ever since. These are artists influenced by Goblin, John Carpenter, Alan Howarth, Vangelis, and dozens of other musicians who cranked out the mood music to our favorite scary movies decades ago. These are artists creating imaginary worlds and stories, an audio tapestry to lose yourself in. And I can’t get enough of it.
One of my favorites to surface has been French artist James Kent and the wonderful sounds he weaves as Perturbator.
This year’s Dangerous Days sounds like the imaginary score to a dystopian sci-fi epic, an action-filled feast for the senses, a barrage of smoke, lasers, and explosions, battles, high-speed chases, and neon lights, electro-weaponry, sex-bots, and a computer-Satan. Really…a computer-Satan. I wish this was a real movie. I would watch the hell out of it. But Dangerous Days is more than just another faux soundtrack homage. Sure, the usual creeping synthesizer vibes and 80’s nostalgia are all over the album, the pulsing beats and dramatic surges, the ebb and flow of a classic film score, but Kent also throws in notes of EDM and heavy metal to give the opus some rough edges. These welcome additions give the album some extra lift, ultimately creating a pop album that could foster life outside of its niche audience.
The record opens with “Welcome Back,” a swirl of synth waves to set the mood…or to roll your opening credits over. “Perturbator’s Theme” then bursts into motion, the sound of speeding through dangerous streets at night. “Hard Wired” is a lonely lover’s lament from the point of view of the aforementioned sex-bot. Memory Ghost’s Isabella Goloversic provides the sultry guest vocals on the track, and it’s a treasure, the kind of track that would have fit on a Depeche Mode album 25 years ago. “Humans Are Such Easy Prey” is a pulsing bit of horror-synth with lifted dialog from The Terminator. Finally, the album ends with the title track, a sprawling 12-minute climax…the final battle…the fade to black. Roll credits.
Albums this fun should be celebrated. They should also be listened to at night whilst driving high speed through neon-lit cityscapes. “This is Nocturne City. The year is 2088 and you are about to embark on a journey into an urban nightmare.”
- Favorite song: “Dangerous Days”
– Runner up: “Hard Wired”
Some other albums I almost wrote about instead: Sun Kil Moon’s Benji; Have A Nice Life’s The Unnatural World; Liars’ Mess; Nothing’s Guilty of Everything; Swans’ To Be Kind; Amen Dunes’ Love; Pallbearer’s Foundations of Burden.
From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.