Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing.
Cold, bleak and empty synthscapes. Lyrics that speak of desire, darkness and passion. These are the aural and lyrical hallmarks of Rotating Angels by Logan Sky and Steven Jones. Logan Sky is a vintage synth enthusiast and musician who has worked with a wide variety of artists. His music is inspired and influenced by the soundscapes and emotional terrain explored by the darker side of ‘80s synth-based pop/New Wave music.
Uplifting messages or warm analog synth melodies are not part of this album’s purview. The synthscapes are cold and crystalline, but this isn’t the luminosity of diamonds. It’s the frozen structure of ice crystals. Melody isn’t the chief strength of this album, but its atmospheric, brittle synth sounds and strong rhythms are most definitely are. Another stand out part of the album’s sound is the particular flavour of Jan Linton’s e-bow guitar and its versatile ability to create soundscapes.
There’s some challenging subject matter on the album that definitely means it isn’t for someone who wants an album to put on in the background. Actually absorbing what the lyrics are saying is crucial to getting the full experience out of the music. It’s no surprise that three of the songs (Dream:Scream, Toy, Spider's Kiss) on the album are based on poetry written by Kevin O’Dowd (fashion designer and brother to '80s icon Boy George) The lyrics push the listener to consider some dark, strange places in themselves and in others.
If one track encapsulates the overall sensations generated by this album for me, it’s Dark Projections. The complex interplay of eroticism and emotional tension in the lyrics is enhanced by the discomforting synth sounds, cold and sterile, hovering in the background overlaid on a strong rhythm track.
Another strong track for me is I Bind You. As a discussion of magic and the concept of binding, I found it fascinating. The ways in which the rhythms, drum sounds and synth lines interact creates a rather trance-like state and the whole chant-like nature of the track emphasizes the ideas being discussed.
The Amboss remix of Japanese Girl is, in my mind, the best of the remixed tracks on the album. It transforms the floating strangeness of the original track into a far more beat-driven affair, while losing none of its unsettling darkness or detracting from the atmosphere created by the original track.
One fact that I’m forced to acknowledge is that this album gets me outside of my usual comfort zone, as far as music is concerned. I do appreciate being challenged in my musical tastes and Rotating Angels most assuredly managed to challenge me in that regard.
I certainly have nothing to fault about the aural ways in which Logan Sky and Steven Jones explored this album’s material. The brooding mood and clean, cold sounds were ideal as a backdrop. I am also, as a lover of synth music, bound to say that their usage of the synths was excellent and the musical palette from which they painted perfectly fit the lyrical content.
If you’re looking for synth-based music that will make your mind work, challenge your ears and force you to look at the “dark projections” that you might create, I would definitely suggest that you check out Rotating Angels.