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Synth Album Review: "Death By Space" by Zane Alexander

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Initial Impressions

Zane Alexander’s Death By Space album is a lush-sounding, ethereal and melancholy journey through the vast emptiness of space. It combines melodies that are sometimes delicate, sometimes pained and sometimes soothing with a full, reverberating soundscape that surrounds the listener in a deeply atmospheric environment. I feel immersed in the music as it carries me on a journey on the album.

One of the first elements of Death By Space that stands out for me is the overall sonic sensation of openness that it creates. From the opening track onward, a sense of massive vistas opening up and surrounding the ears sweeps through the music. The wide open nature of the auditory canvas that is generated lends to the feeling of floating through endless velvet blackness and past fields of stars.

There’s a depth to the production of Death By Space that makes it feel full and rich as well. All of the musical elements have a sense of roundness and three-dimensional auditory shape to them. This enriches the listening experience and adds to the overall sensation of well-considered sonic components that combine to form a complete listening experience.

The way in which Zane Alexander deploys synths on the album is also something that I find effective in generating a sense of atmosphere. He has an arsenal of floating, glowing and drifting sounds that combine in complex ways to produce imagery that reflects the themes that run through this music. It is starry, massive and sometimes it feels very lonely indeed.

Melodically Death By Space is an album with a fragile, delicate feeling sometimes shot through with triumph and moments of such serenity that the mind drifts off and floats along on it. The triumphant moments add a note of contrast as we glide across the spacescapes of the music.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

"Up (feat. ONLY A.L.E.X)” breathes into being with warm flows of sound and a deep bass pulse under them before a soothing melody played on a tech-y, open sounding synth with light glowing from it echoes out into the vast sonic surroundings of the track. There’s a throbbing pulse of synth that takes shape and form as a smooth, deep drum heartbeat supports it. The delicate lead melody soars in, high and easy over the drums.

Gentle pulsations of synth drift through wide spaces around them as a cosmic wind sweeps through and that full, glowing synth adds wandering musical ornaments to its basic sound. I enjoy the sensations that are generated by this track.

Soft rustles of sound grow out into the vastness around them as “Air” begins. The soft sounds begin to coalesce into an easy flow that grows in depth and scope as a bright revolving synth line moves into the track. The wandering lead synth is complemented by an uneven bass pulse before the strong drums move into the track.

I am drawn to the round, full and rather nasal sound of the lead as bright chimes sparkle and flicker over it. The track fades back into sweeping breath with bursts of the bright light flaring out through the openness of the sonic space of the album.
“Astrophobia”starts with a rush of airy breath while a distant, distorted vocal moves through the background. There’s an intermingling of ghostly distant synth with flareups of edgy sound sweeping through.

The track has a nice balance between the thumping, chugging drumbeat and the ethereal air flowing over it. A medium tone, full sounding synth plays a soft easy pattern that winds in and through over the beat while the track breaks to echoing vocal samples before ending on vaguely nervous sounds.

A house beat comes throbbing into the music along with repeating patterns of full synth that have a reverberant quality to them as “You Wanted To Be Alone” opens. Shimmering notes float into the track, full and warm and now that house beat returns with one layer of synth sounds glowing and flickering over a bouncing synth that moves through it.

I find the overall feeling of the track is glowing, warm and full of ease despite the title as synths in the background shiver and waver and a soft keyboard melody, caressing and smooth moves in, adding a soothing ending to the track.

“It’s Lonely Here (ONLY A.L.E.X. Interlude)” kicks off with ethereal float and synth with a round, full sound carrying a delicate melody. The whole track has a soothing glide to it that enfolds one’s ears while each sonic element ever so softly brushes across the flow of sound underneath it. Sounds shift and flicker as we take a breather, rest and let the music wrap all around and eventually fade into the openness of space and a reverent feeling that permeates the track.

Pulses of oscillating medium high synth move through a huge sense of spaciousness to begin “Orion’s Belt” as exceedingly deep bass, heavy and rich, is joined by creamy smooth drums and a jazzy, wandering lead synth with a warm nasal quality to it. The depth of the bass adds support to the melody.

I am enamoured of the synths that are full of starry light despite the lost quality of main melody. The starry glow continues as the beat drives with more energy under it. Long, shifting lines of synth flare out and slide in, expanding and contracting over the energized heartbeat of the track.

“UwU OwO” breathes to life with reverent-sounding synths that rise in gentle waves before another, throbbing synth line moves in shortly followed by a chip lead that feels so easy and gentle as it skips and slides through the music. An active bass line moves under it and the steady, even drumbeat adds more shape to the track. My ears are drawn in by the way that chip lead journeys through the track as the weight and strength of the bass and drums add drive and motion.

Currents of easy synth sound interlock and intertwine while the melody rises, suffused with positive feelings. The percussion is full of interesting elements as it skips through the track and those warm synths continue to surround and caress the ears. Shifting sound waves float out, lapping through the music before gliding back into open space.

There’s a powerful sensation of drifting through vast spacescapes as “Supermassive” starts out. Vocal samples move through, feeling distant as a cosmic wind blows across the track. A slow, thick beat moves under a computerized-sounding lead synth that grows and becomes triumphant with flashing, leaping trills of bright notes surrounding it.

I am a fan of the drum sound on this track. The music breaks to flow and glow as soft breaths of wind sweep through and glide along. The smooth throb of the drums is joined by a densely packed float of synth that gives the impression of flying by huge space structures. The interlocking pattern of synths underneath is full of shining light and bouncing lines of sound.

“Exit” opens on a rising, growing flow of synth that sweeps into the openness of the background. A great wash of deep sound touches the music and everything swells, so full and rich as it caresses the ears. There’s a gentleness despite all of the weight and sweep of the music before it fades into fragile, soft piano notes.

Final Thoughts

Zane Alexander’s Death By Space album captures the vast majesty of space in its sweeping sounds, starry synths and deep velvet bass. I felt myself floating along, carried by the music as it roamed across galaxies and across time.

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