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Synth Album Revew: "Time Driven" by SkelOne (and Guests)

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Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.

SkelOne

SkelOne

Initial Impressions

SkelOne’s Time Driven is a melodically rich, textured and energetic blast of synthwave. There’s a wide variety of synths that intertwine and intermingle over throbbing drums, pulsing base and some really lovely melodies that move through the music. It feels like SkelOne has poured a great deal of passion and energy into this music and it shows through in the sound.

The element that stood out the most for me on Time Driven was SkelOne’s melodic writing. He has a knack for creating melodies that are strong, clear and expressive. Whether they are written to express brimming energy or more gentle emotions, they communicate well with the listener. I especially enjoy how many of the melodies, even on more energetic tracks, still have a tinge of something melancholy in them.

I also enjoy all of SkelOne’s collaborations with other artists. I feel that they bring their own flavour to the sounds and help to add another layer to the music. It’s also a testament to the #synthfam that there are so many people willing to share their music with others and to collaborate and create together.

The sheer variety of synth sounds and interactions between the sounds were another important factor on Time Driven for me. There are lots of interesting and ear-grabbing synths that each add their own feeling and expression to the tracks. SkelOne does a pretty good job of mixing the sounds together, layering and contrasting them, to produce a richly interlinked sonic palette that holds my ears.

I’m also compelled by SkelOne’s use of drums and bass on the album. The pulses and throbs of those sounds give the tracks a real heartbeat as they tie all of the different segments of the music together and provide propulsion on some tracks and a smooth glide on others, shaping and guiding the other musical elements.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Lights On” jumps into action with quickly revolving synth arpeggios spinning into the sound of hissing static that clears as warm chords buoy up the light, easy sparkle that glides over the top. The trumpeting lead synth carries a melody that gives off a sense of forward motion and progress over the smooth flow of drums and throbbing pulse of oscillating bass. I enjoy the dynamic feeling of the music here and the sense of brightness that swells around and through it.

Slow pulses of synth sound rise and fall as they sweep between the stereo channels to start “Stellar Night.” The synths are open and round and the beat establishes itself with a shining dance of high, almost metallic sound. The melody that comes in on a synth with a medium high voice has a melancholy tinge to it as quick oscillating sounds move under it. The lead takes on a warmer quality and has a feeling of positivity to it that I find touching. The slightly melancholy melody and the chiming notes all interlock, metallic and still warm, as the track moves on.

“109 MPH (feat. Carbon Killer)” begins as a delicate synth plays a tentative, high pattern of notes while quick bass oscillation moves out underneath it. All of the sounds grow in strength as the light brush of high, string-like synth sound moves through the track. The high lead synth is supported by a solid, throbbing beat as it cries out an impassioned melody full of hope while a yearning, delicate pattern of notes shimmer under it and the drums pulse again.

Dense washes of sound flow into and through the track, but the feeling of delicacy remains in a way that I find interesting. There’s a high synth crying out into open space and the kick pulses as the drums move in again and now a soaring, whirling and energetic lead solo, high and glowing, makes a leap through the track before fading to glide, shimmer and flow.

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Swelling pulses of sound join a slowly revolving arpeggio kick off “Coast Drive” as patterns of bright notes form. The driving beat moves under a warm, lingering melody. The drums pick up the pace as a repeating pattern of notes play a slightly sad refrain.

I find the gently mournful lead synth melody compelling as it has a sense of something wistful about it. There’s also a synth solo that twists and turns to add variation to the track while a trumpeting high synth cries out over the throbbing drums and bass..

“Hourglass (feat. Compiler Bau)” comes to life with a pattern of chimes echoes eerily and ethereally into the music as a oscillating and shifting low synth line is guided by a drum pulse. A more solid beat kicks in with a full sounding, mid-level synth carrying a melody that does a good job of balancing energy and shadows.

A sweep of wind is joined by keening, descending synth as the beat gains energy and cascades of notes flicker through the music. There’s a broken bass pulse and another keening howl of synth that fades away to drums before the track returns to the slow and slightly aching lead as higher flashes of sound move through and the drum keeps pulsing.

A very deep, shifting bass pattern and the steady ticking of the drums open “Street Race” as another one of SkelOne’s well-composed melodies moves into the track. It has a lot of shine and dynamism to it as the smooth, flowing beat adds its own throb underneath. This whole track glows with light as the melody dances intricately through the music.

Now a higher and even more light-filled second synth calls out, chiming brightly, as trumpet-like sounds start a steady pulse of notes that elevates the track further. The feeling of air and light grows as a pattern of repeating, singing notes with some shifting variations brings us back to the melody again.

“Dreams (feat. Stilz)” launches with quickly whirling arpeggios and a swelling wash of sound. A synth that is slightly rough-edged, but still warm and enfolding dances into the music followed by the steady heartbeat of drums and bass. I find the melody to this track absolutely heartwarming. It fills me with a sense of hope and possibility as it moves into the track, so easily gliding and delicate.

A bright, triumphant secondary melody adds its voice to the track and before the music returns to the smooth beat and a quick flash of higher glowing synth keeps moving through the track. Everything feels like pink clouds and gentle sunlight here, bursting through the wrap the ears in soothing waves of sound.

There’s a deep, slowly climbing pulse of rough-edged synth that is joined by a slightly aching melody as “Asphalt” begins. A medium-high synth that has a slight waver to it is joined by an easy pulse of driving bass and flowing synth that creates a charging pattern. A synth that has a brassy quality to it carries the super energetic melody, adding real propulsion to the music.

I am drawn to the way the lead synth twines and leaps through the track, somewhat nasal in quality. It climbs and floats, singing over the steady pulse underneath it. Chimes flash through and the and a solo is carried on a glowing synth that really brightens proceedings.

Conclusion

The rich melodic content, enjoyable collaborations and wide variety of interesting, engaging synth sounds on Time Driven makes for a very pleasant listening experience that kept my ears tuned into the album. I hope SkelOne keeps making music that is as full of heart as this album is.

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