1980 REDUX is a celebration of all things electronic & analogue – an exciting voltage controlled circuitry that gave birth to a new way.
Alien Skin’s brand new album is a fairly big step in a new direction when compared to his previous releases of recent years. The concept itself suggests a particular or specific thread, but only when you press play does the full scope of the audio approach come through.
1980 You Were a Boy is the opener. The sound is crisp and vibrant, much more distinct, rhythmic and shapely than its somewhat more dreamy predecessors. The sampled vocal speaking about the year and the synthesizers brings about a touch of cinematic prowess, and the minimal use of vocals or lyricism elsewhere further marks the individuality of this project.
I Am Adam keeps the sharpness and flavour equally bright and bold, this sense of rhythm is superb, the music has a certain weight to it; the hypnotic movement of EDM and it’s infectious energy is alive and well. In addition, the beauty that is Alien Skin’s provocative lyricism provides the intrigue, the uncommon angle, and though it’s much more minimal for this project, it fits well in this state – the audio experience is fascinating in itself. Sad Ghost, however, brings the full throttle verse-to-chorus storytelling back to remind you of the poetic artistry that so often goes hand in hand with the artist’s electronic exploration of music.
Then you get to This Fantastic Voyage. The title of this song represents its content brilliantly. The music comes through as an epic, intricate journey through sound, the range between which varies intensely from the way down low bass notes, the thick and weighty beat, right up to the dreamlike snippets of higher pitched, synths or keys gently lighting up in the distance. As the piece progresses, the energy multiplies, and the experience begins to feel like the beginning of an unforgettable trip.
I Need Voltage is a haunting and unpredictable song, this is in both the detail featured in the soundscape and the sudden evolution expressed in the songwriting. The hook comes out of nowhere, the music seems to implode, the mood changes, almost as if the energy has run out or life is slipping away and panic is setting in. Straight afterwards, the hyperactive, industrialised rhythm of The Berlin Trilogy comes through, and this track comes with some greatly welcomed spoken word from the leading artist; setting the scene, exploring the story, carrying you considerately along as the tale and the history and the imagery unfolds. There’s a notable nod in David Bowie’s direction, among other references that further feed into the album’s underlying concept.
Atoms Dangling Endlessly brings a wonderfully smooth and rhythmic aura. Alien Skin has really allowed his creativity to wander to the farthest extremes, many of these moments arrive as brand new sounds, untraceable and interesting. The latter half of the song is quite beautiful, the vocal melody and the synth riff walking hand in hand towards the outer edges of the audio world. Walk On Water follows, fusing a fast-paced yet distant drum line with a watery wash of electronically driven notes. The lyrics here are stunning, and the hook is incredibly beautiful and hugely captivating, not to mention immediately memorable after just a single listen.
The intensity returns for In A Film, the distorted backdrop implies a house or alternative EDM track, the surrounding musicality and melody however seem much more delicate in contrast. The Playground of Syd Barrett toys with a similar string of sounds. The instrumentation that immediately follows the hook is blissful here, the essence of the music falls like rain as these synths and notes meet and connect and dance together.
And finally, the supremely atmospheric and gripping Dark Star provides the ultimate few moments of audio. There’s no beat at first, and you notice this – the pace has been fairly heavy throughout the collection, in comparison to the artist’s previous projects at least. This final song offers a reflective expression of ideas, by means of a simple wash of sounds, soon expanding into a down-tempo, retro EDM piece, which surrounds and satisfies in the way that any dream-like or soothing trip-hop track might.