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Synth Album Review: "District 693" by Gigowatts

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


Gigowatts' District 693 EP is a powerful storm of synth sounds, battering drums and howling, shredding guitar that takes listeners on a wild ride of darkness, energy and relentlessly aggressive sound.

“Guilty Pleasure” begins with a steadily pulsing sound that moves under slightly ragged, metallic synth as thumping drums and an active bass line, played by an electric bass, add support to the track. Rising, gruff electric guitar chords burst forth and cry out over the steady flow of synth that pulses as the drums burst and break. The gritty edge of the guitar is choppily divided into segments that explode over fragments of drumbeat.

A higher line of shifting, luminous synth cuts in and the broken attack of the hard-edged guitar slices. Arpeggios with a piano sound spin and dance over the battering drums and aggressive guitar. A soaring synth carries a more open and shining sound over the seething energy under it. The guitar has a bite to it as it keeps stuttering and growling into the music.

A thudding kick drum and a rapidly moving, harsh synth cuts into the track to kick off “Death By Saw." The thick deep drum and bass are joined by other streams of tense, medium-high synth and elevated, slightly gravelly bursts of sound. The tension winds higher as gritty, grunting synth moves in a shifting line and the drumbeat accelerates.

Quick arpeggios rise and fall, their circling sounds ramping up the tension as the drums surge onward. The track fades to an almost reverent synth while high and distant sounds shimmer over the throbbing synth line. Volume and energy begin to grow under the gentler sounds. There is darkness and grit as the “A” section moves in once more.

“Alone In Tokyo” comes to life with drifting, full sounding string-like synths that move in waves over the steady retro beat. Mysterious, swirling sounds wander through the music as the beat throbs onward and the fun medium high synth carries a wistfully gliding melody. There’s a break to solid drums and minor key, nervous arpeggios shift while a shining line of synth flows through the track.

A secondary melodic segment comes in carried on the rich, string-like synth and deep electric bass adds its unique voice along with lambent sounds above it. The sound of a cello, mournful and heartfelt, moves in as the string-like synths keep flicker and move in clustered patterns.

Shadowed bass and a slowly moving, pulse of low sound start off “Lights Out” as a vocal sample moves over the repeating sound of a ticking clock. This track evokes a Formula 1 race in the vocal samples and in its surging energy. There’s a rapidly slamming drum beat and rocking, driving guitar accelerates into the music. There’s a break to a wandering pulse of ominous synth.

The drums batter into the track while the guitar slashes into a shredding scream. Jagged pulses of gritty electric guitar move over ethereal sounds before all the sonic elements rage in wild abandon again. There’s a contrast between the power of the dense guitar and the floating sounds that come in before the music goes even more wild as we reach the climax of the track, guitar exploding before fading into silence.

“The Looper” comes into being with a rapidly oscillating, medium-high synth pulse and the dark richness of a pipe organ while quick flutters of descending 8-bit sound move over top of that heft underneath. The throbbing synth bass moves with a ragged edge before the thundering drums move in along with a shredding synth pulse.

A flow of electric guitar screams and jumps into the music before breaking to drums and the quickly descending 8-bit sounds distort slightly. The driving drumbeat and pipe organ move with the oscillating medium-high synth pattern before a wild storm of drums, bass and the shredding howl of synth and electric guitar rushes in again.

A steady but energetically moving guitar throb and smooth drums join slightly sharper edged synth to open “Alita.“ A leaping, moving line of active synth sound dances above the full chords under it before a moment of silence is touched by deep piano. A harsher, oscillating pulse of shadowy synth with a serrated edge cuts into the track,

The guitar calls out in broken pulses of dense, ferocious noise that stutter step into the track along with tense arpeggios. A coruscating pattern of sound flutters in repeating arpeggios that keep whirling rapidly as the track ends on a sustained piano note and darkness.

“District 693” starts off with shadowed bass flowing underneath a medium high pulse of nervous synth. A dense, full sounding synth plays darkly descending patterns underneath warmer, rising musical breaths. A solid electric bass and smooth drums underpin the lacerating electric guitar that comes in.

There’s a powerful wall of sound that now roars into the track. Undeniably metal-influenced guitar pummels the track as a synth with a distant glow moves over the storm of guitar noise.

The weight and aggression of that sonic assault keeps on going as the drums thunder underneath. Shiny synth moves in active lines over the guitar growl as all of the auditory elements mingle and rush onward.