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Synth Album Review: "Furbidden Planet" by Cat Temper

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

Album art by Quinnzel Kills

Album art by Quinnzel Kills

Initial Impressions

Cat Temper’s Furbidden Planet takes listeners on a cosmic journey full of swirling, ethereal sounds, deep wells of bass and rich sonic interactions. Cat Temper takes full advantage of the versatility of synthesized music to create an auditory portrait of an adventure out through the stars on this album.

One of the major reasons that I’m drawn to Furbidden Planet is the complex, intertwining synth textures, timbres and colours that Cat Temper creates on the album. There is a richness to the blend of different elements that paints powerful imagery in my mind as I listen, telling a tale through sound. The textural differences, the contrasts between sounds and the thoughtful way in which they are assembled form a lush, cohesive whole.

I enjoy the way in which travel through outer space is evoked on Furbidden Planet. The sensations are achieved through a combination of a wide-open soundstage, gruff bass that oscillates and pulses and ethereally swirling bursts of light that call to mind great clouds of cosmic dust and the distant glow of stars. The propulsive drums that move throughout the album help to produce the feeling that one is flying through the velvet darkness, on the way to a mysterious destination.

The melodies that Cat Temper has created on the album also attract me. There’s often an appealing mixture of melancholy and more hopeful emotion in the melodies that plays into the overall theme of space exploration. The feelings of mingled awe and a sense of insignificance in the face of the universe seem reflected in the melodic content of the music.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Catstronauts Are Go” comes to life with swirling, shining synth clouds that flow through the track. An elevated, glittering synth descends in a cosmically drifting line over the swirling, floating and lush sounds drifting around it. I enjoy the angular, entangled synth line that moves above the steady, rough-edged sonic pulse that supports it. A bright, hollow synth plays a repeating pattern over strong, throbbing bass before a wandering, thick synth moves with melancholy.

The beat adds energy and drive with bursts of metallic, broad synth cutting in over top of it. Quick, rough edged arpeggios oscillate before moving into a gentle flow. Elevated synth cries out in an ethereal line, feeling lost and aching. A thick, trumpeting synth calls out with emotion as the arpeggios whirl on and the aching, cosmic lead melody moves. The track ends on a gliding sonic wash.

Gruff bursts of thick synth along with exploding drums jump in to open “Telepurrtation.” The drums have a bouncing quality to them below surging synth pulses. The deep bass begins a steady throb after a drum fill and rises upward in an expanding tide. A whistling, open-voiced synth calls out in a cosmically ghostly pattern to introduce the metallic, caressing lead synth. I am drawn to the gentle glow of the uplifting melody as high chimes flicker and repeat above it.

A dense, nasal synth now carries the melody in a climbing line and is doubled with by the elevated, airy synth to while low, dense, faintly jagged synths throb below. A shimmering arpeggio circles along with a unique string sound before there’s a return to the delicate, shining and hopeful lead melody. A new melodic pattern whistles out, tinged with an aching feeling, as the expanding, medium-low synth line rises and fades away.

“Impawssible Artifact” starts off with a quickly twisting, oscillating synth that has an edge of static crackle. The synth pulsates rapidly as the massive drums hit the music. A steady, harsh synth pattern moves below a brightly trumpeting and repeating pattern of synth that rises and falls in a smooth wave. Bursts of rougher synth move In before the digital synth with its chiming, hollow quality rings out.

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I enjoy the energetic, dynamic angled note pattern as it is touched by a quick wash of hollow, distorting notes. A drifting synth line wriggles through the track and a soaring, heartwarming synth with a round voice leaps up, carrying along over the evolving line of gruff sound surging over the steady oscillating bass as it rises and falls.

A flowing sweep of edgy sound moves through an open void along with the heavy weight of dense, thick synth to start “Meowsage From Space.” There’s a sound reminiscent of a double bass sawing in as an arpeggiating, string-like synth pattern flows back and forth. I enjoy the rather ominous sensations created by the mixture of blocky, dark sonic pulses and a shiny, twisting synth with a high voice writhing in a vaguely worried pattern.

A kalimba-like sound dances in an arpeggiating pattern while hollow, deep voices also chant out. The ghostly, wandering synth calls out in a lost feeling pattern and hard-hitting rough guitar like sounds lash out in a cutting line. Choral voices rise, feeling ominous, before the hard, heavy pulse hits again and an active series of wide synth notes breaks into gently roaming, ethereal sound and then silence.

“Cataclysm” kicks off with rising, swirling sounds moving out into empty space as huge drums echo in extending pulses. Glowing, nasal synth drifts over the oscillating bass pulse and mysterious sounds, high and unsettling, slide in while the massive drums slowly throb. An echoing, reverb-drenched series of shadowy synth pulses move into the emptiness that enfolds them.

I like the way in which Cat Temper creates a palpable sensation of tension with a metallic, nervous rush of twisting synth. Low blocks of sound move underneath the warning that cries out above them. Laser-like pulses zap out and that warning, screaming synth vibrates while the larger slabs of dark sound sweep under it.

Slow, slightly distorted notes descend along with a shinier, more metallic series of synth sounds to open up “Changing Perceptions.” There’s a melancholy feeling to the spiralling sounds as a round, elevated synth plays extending, ethereal notes. I am enamoured of the floating sensation that the long notes impart to the music. Deep bass notes pulse in steadily and the delicate, hollow synth above descends in gentle drifts.

There’s a break to the twisting notes and knotted, vibrating synths that tremble in, fade out and tremble in again while the slow, delicate notes descend. A chippy arpeggio spins with tension and the heavy drumbeat comes in along with the deep bass pulse, cutting in and out. There’s energy as the music drives on and the arpeggios whirl while the hollow, delicate synth melody falls down through the music and the arp stops as those sounds flow down.

“A Mew Beginning” comes into being with a deeply resonant synth roaming through, forming a flowing pattern as it climbs and falls in a smooth wave. The drums tick in softly while digital flashes move along with unique percussion. I enjoy the wandering melody that mingles feelings of melancholy with a sense of hope as it’s carried on a shining, dense synth.

The hollow drums flow and now quick, rising lines of rough synth with a flashing feeling are joined by rapid, digital notes that trickle in. The lead melody is chiming, sharp and shining, a as it flows over the deep bass and flashes of full synth. The hollow drums move in and then the high, lost line of synth slides along while we return to the “A” section.

Conclusion

Furbidden Planet is an album that works because Cat Temper unfolds a tale of adventure, danger and hope across a lushly textured, layered musical landscape that uses synths to their full advantage. It also, incidentally, still has some of the most fun song titles out there!

© 2021 Karl Magi

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