Synth Single Review: Dark Smoke Signal, "Tearing the Wings Off an Angel"
Alex Pope (Dark Smoke Signal) is a synth music producer from Bristol in the UK. His music is influenced by "'80s hair metal guitar, served with a twist of Yamaha DX7 and lashings of reverb." His single “Tearing the Wings Off an Angel” definitely has the psychological weight that one would associate with metal, along with lyrics that take a dive into dark territory. What’s interesting is that, in spite of all that heaviness, there’s a rising, soaring melody that seems in direct contrast to the darkness explored here.
Pope has a strong singing voice that can stand up to the layers of synth, bass and drums that interlock and interact on this track. His voice also has the punch to deliver the undeniably dark lyrics that he’s written for this song.
The lyrics themselves have some extremely powerful moments in them. I was especially taken by verses like, “Silhouettes in a line, a thousand shadows dancing at a time/Dripping blood red wine.” The imagery that these words generate really resonates with me. I was also taken by the line that gives the impression of a jagged wound barely held together by “feathered tar” which in and of itself has the connotation of being cast out.
The chorus is interesting because it starts with a reference to tearing the wings off “an angel” and saying, “there’s a black mark running through my heart” the first time and then switching it to “tearing the wings off your angel/now the black mark is seeping through your heart.” It is as if whatever is making the black mark in his heart is contagious and he’s infecting the other person with that contagion.
Musically, this is a song of contrasts, from the ethereal and shimmering introduction to the thick, heavy bass and between little sparkles of synth and the weight of the lyrics brooding in and around them. I’m struck by how the main melody soars in contradistinction to the darkness of the words that Pope is singing.
I found the balance of elements in "Tearing The Wings Off An Angel" gave this single a really intriguing, ear capturing quality. There’s something about pairing darkness and light, weight and airiness that ended up holding my attention throughout. It’ll be interesting to see how this song fits into the album of which it’s a part.