Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
Flashback81’s Beyond the Fallen Sky is an album that surges with fun retro energy. It’s full of a willingness to explore and create strong musical imagery, roaming through a wide swathe of stylistic territory. Flashback81 works with a series of talented female vocalists on the album, each of whom adds their own unique flair to the songs. There are a few rough edges in his music, but Flashback81 is growing as an artist and those minor issues will likely fade as he grows more experienced.
I enjoy the way in which Beyond the Fallen Sky balances out the undeniable ‘80s synth vibes with elements of more contemporary EDM and other genres. There’s still the unmistakable character and warmth of analog synth sounds, but some of the beats and stylistic cues are drawn from more modern genres. I enjoy the overall feeling that this combination creates.
Another strong feature of Beyond the Fallen Sky is the lineup of talented women who deliver effective, expressive vocal performances. Elisa R., Lynsey TIbbs, Caskety and Georgia Octavia each unleash unique, emotive vocals on the songs and those performances elevate the quality of the music on the album.
I also enjoy Flashback81’s melody creation skills. He crafts melodies that are catchy, full of feeling and add to the overall strength of the music. The melodies each fit the mood of the songs and convey the emotional and musical imagery that they seek to create quite clearly. They’re another effective part of the whole package.
I will admit that there are a few mixing issues and some moments in which the production could be cleaned up, but they’re not terminal by any means. I’m pretty sure that given time, Flashback81 is going to become more experienced and smoother when it comes to production.
My Favourite Tracks Analyzed
“Summer Nights” comes to life with a distant, slowly revolving, bright arpeggio that is joined by the solid beat of deep drums and a slightly muffled, warm and emotive sax sound.
I enjoy the wandering, coolly jazzy melody that the sax carries over the throbbing drums, the swirling glow of shining synth and the steady bass pulse. The sax roams across a territory of expressive, leaping sound that sings out with passion over the endless throbbing the percussion and the shimmering line of elevated synth above it.
Full, chiming synth sings out an uplifting melody to start “Only You” over the big drum throb and the emotive expression in Lynsey Tibbs’ voice. A full, metallic synth melody moves over the dense weight of drums underpinning it all. I am drawn to the way that Lynsey Tibbs’ vocals soar out and fill the song with passion.
A glimmer of synth, high and sunny, moves in an easy pattern over the propulsion of the unique sounding drum part. The vocals get a little lost in the mix for me, but it isn’t awful. A fun, jumping slap bass line moves under the steady drum heartbeat and the metallic, medium high synth has a rich round quality.
This is a song about a strong emotional connection between people who “got this little spark, we got the flame within our hearts.” As the song unfolds, the narrator says she feels so good when the object of her affections gives her “a sign that makes me fly.”
There’s strong emotion flowing out as she talks about how “only you can move me, creating a mood that proves it’s only you for me, only me for you.” She points out that “we’re good together, I’m hoping we can stay forever.”
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“Arcade” comes to life with full bass depth and a gigantic drumbeat which has a dense throb to it. Elise R’s voice is full of warmth and a dreamy feeling, along with a certain sweetness. I enjoy how the melody combines memory and hope with accents of glittering, bright synth.
The synths wriggle up above the steady beat and a lush bass flow. The solid underpinnings support the rest of the musical elements. The strong vocals are foregrounded over the beat and bass while a glowing synth adds soft focus light to the track.
The lyrics of this song talk about the innocent joy of time with friends when we’re young. The song’s narrator talks about the fun she had with a special someone playing games all night. She talks about how it’s like “a different world, the flickering arcade lights.” She’ll never forget the good times so “let’s try to win the game together.”
She invites the person to whom she’s singing to “run away with me into another world” while “shooting stars fly through the sky.” They’ll be playing together and “finding every enemy” and being a great team together.
“This Could Be Our Time”
The chest-throbbing bass joins a synth with xylophone qualities to it as “This Could Be Our Time” kicks off. Solid drums come in below the wandering, ghostly, minor key melody. The lead synth melody is tinged with sadness as the xylophone pulses in a moving melodic line. The bass is thick underneath an elevated glockenspiel that adds sparkling stars to the music.
I am a fan of how Caskety’s voice trembles and emotes over the shimmering line of metallic, medium-high synth. There’s an addictive drum pulse and the continual throb of bass doubles with the xylophone synth.
A deep expression of passion and love fills this song. The narrator sings that “if the earth stopped turning tomorrow” she’d want to be in her beloved’s arms. It doesn’t matter whether it’s “rush hour on a downtown train” or in a downpour, she wants to be close.
However there’s something that’s holding them back. Instead of letting that happen, she says that they should “reach up toward the sky and feel our temperatures rise.” She tells the object of her affections that it could be “our time” and adds that their dreams were “made of this.”
There’s an expression of just letting go and moving in the line “close your eyes and jump on a whim.” I enjoy the imagery in the words, “this could be our time - looking back at the skyline.” Ultimately she realizes that “I can’t get you out of my mind…this could be our time.”
“Come Away” begins with deeply throbbing bass and a spinning, distorting synth pattern that moves with medium high glitter of synth and drifting vocals. I am enamoured of the richness created by the synths as they twirl and move in a hollow drift, the warm vocals and the sensation of energy from the unique drums.
The warm flow of the vocals shifts along with the depth of the drums and the sliding, whirling synth. The beat thunders and bright lights glow while the uneven pulse of the bass adds a special energy to the song.
The narrator asks, “Don’t you wanna go, don’t you wanna get away?” There’s a strong sense of escape as she sings, “driving down the highway, there’s no reason to stay.” The lyrics talk about how they’ll find “summer song, pool parties, hot nights.”
They’ll be “driving to the bar for the big night” and playing in the rain and neon lights. Now they’re together and “bathing in the street lights” and thinking it’s the “best night of our lives.” She adds, “Let ‘em call us crazy, I don’t care what they say” since the two of them are “living life our way.”
“Beyond the Fallen Sky”
A deep pulse of ticking drums and a rough edged bass throb move together to start “Beyond the Fallen Sky” as the vocals flutter out over the deep, ear grabbing beat. The lambent, chiming synth glitters over the shuddering bass before the intertwining rush of vocals add an ethereal feeling to the music.
An angular line of synth shifts and that raised metallic sound of the chimes has an almost music box feeling to it as the beat keeps on a steady throb and the airy, distant vocals add melancholy before again a shiver of bass descends and the solid beat of the drums keeps on moving.
There’s a sense of mingled hope and challenge in this song. The narrator says there’s enough time to “try to make it up ‘cause it’s just enough to stand beside.” She encourages the person she’s addressing to “quit acting so shy” because they’ll always get by.
In the chorus, she says that it’s been a long night’s drive and the sun is about to come up. She calls out to the song’s subject and asks them to “come along and dream beyond the fallen sky.”
She asks to be cheered up and adds that “I’ll be alright someday.” She says that they need to “reunite tonight” because although they might say goodbye, “I know we’ll always get by.”
Flashback81's Beyond the Fallen Sky is a showcase for great vocal performances, strong melodic writing and a nice balance of retro and contemporary influences. There are a few production issues, but they are largely minor and don't detract from the music itself. I am looking forward to hearing how Flashback81 will grow as a music maker in future.