Synthetic Organs - A Roar from a Northern Shore - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Synthetic Organs - A Roar from a Northern Shore

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2015-08-12

The Electronica scene in England in the 1990s was one of the richest in history. Bands like Aphex Twin, Autechre, Prodigy, The Orb, Orbital, and scores of others were responsible for the creation of dozens of new genres, all of which eventually blended with each other to form hundreds of subgenres. With A Roar from a Northern Shore, Synthetic Organs (such a perfect name for this type of band) have crafted a loving homage to those days, with a cozy, middle-of-the-road set of familiar-sounding electronic tunes.

It opens with 'Worshore', a very Orb-like track that has a classic spoken word intro. This one is an paean to the beauty of England, but interestingly, it's an exhortation to renounce the country itself and go back to the land's pagan roots. It's an oddly political statement for an ambient album, but it more or less works, as the song is propelled along by bubbling melodies and casio keyboard beats, as a more chiming, echoey synth strongly reminiscent of 'U.F. Orb' migrates into the picture. The last couple minutes are driven by a grittier synth section and some pattering drums.

'Miami Space Bus' features some hilariously perfect synth horns, the kind of thing you'd hear in one of those old 3D animation videos from the 1990s showcasing some amazing (for the time) computer processing power. 'Dunecats' is a more meditative, slow-burner, grooving along like something by Doof, or maybe a Selected Ambient Works b-side. 'Oceans Ever Deeper' is a competent, thumping track populated by a sparkling melody and twisty pads. 'Neon Maniacs' is almost an EBM track, like old, old Front 242, minus the vocals, except for a great, vocoded/robotized sample halfway through.

The only significant dud is the plodding, uneventful 'Synethetica', a song that's just kind of there and gone without note. Other than that, the album feels cohesive, yet packed with a variety of a styles, like the semi-tribal, jungle (the place, not the genre) feel of 'Reflections in Waves' and the semi-jungle (the genre, not the place) beats of 'Norbert Mont-Celery', and the goofy bassline of 'Bandstand Dafty'.

Perhaps the best song is 'Kalinga', a delightful little tune that has a cute little µ-ziq style synth worm its way through the piece, which gets superseded by the awesome melody that's somewhere between chiming bells and steel drums. This track alone is worth the price of admission, a high point in a plateau of quality.

Anyone longing for the good old days of electronic music will be totally satisfied with this set. It doesn't try anything too crazy or innovative, but what it does is rock solid. Call it blue collar electronica for the whole family. Put it on and let dad tell stories about the good old days of all-night raves.

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