Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
"Gravity" by Damokles: My Initial Impressions
Damokles’ latest album Gravity combines his signature vocal and lyrical style with pin-sharp production values, energetically soaring synth solos, mesmerizing drum sounds and an overall feeling of deep, full sonic range that lends richness to the listening experience.
One of the clearly outstanding elements of Damokles’ albums is his ability to create incredibly well-produced music. His many decades of experience making synth-based music have gifted him with an ear for making clean soundscapes. Each sonic element sits in the mix, distinct and clear, while still interacting with one another and layering into a rich musical whole.
Another strong element of Damokles’ music on Gravity is his strong melodic sense. He crafts ear-pleasing, catchy melodies that form the basis for the songs. On top of this, he plays blistering, intricate and energetic synth solos that have a distinctly jazz-influenced flavour which add complexity to the tunes.
Once again, Damokles combines his distinctive deep vocals with a unique songwriting voice and (my favourite part) some old-school rap that lends a sense of fun and character to the music. I enjoy the fact that this artist dares to be different and express his own individuality so strongly.
I also want to comment on the drum sounds that are used on Gravity. They have a big, powerful retro feel to them and he also incorporates some percussion sounds that add a distinctive feeling to the music, again marking it out as something quite unique to this artist.
“Gravity” leaps into life with a deep, thick bass and drum line under a funky oscillating synth. There’s extra funk with the slap bass and jazzy piano chords while the addictive sound of the percussion hits.
Flashing synths with a trumpeting feeling rise over the driving throb of the beat as Damokles’ deep, unique voice carries the fun lyrics through the track. I enjoy the jazzy touches and the rapped section is just a blast. There’s also a superb flying, whirlwind synth solo that rockets into the music.
In this song, Damokles talks about the forces around us that determine our lives and how they can drag events powerfully in a certain direction. He opens the song by talking about forces around us that would take us “a while to understand.” They’re part of a big machine that is in operation but “you don’t have a clue because you see it from the ground and not above.”
He goes on to say that “from dust to a galaxy” it is gravity that’s the “engine of all that is happening. Ultimately everything is gravity including “money and authority.” The lyrics point out that “everything's got its own gravity, that’s why life is so challenging… the more you have, the more you are likely to get.”
In his voiceover, Damokles adds that the problem is “to get gravity working for you in the first place” and points out that some negative things like hate “really add up quick.”
Now he launches into the hugely entertaining rapped section of the song. I love the rhymes in lines like, “it’s a force of nature and it has a plan, fuelling everything since it all began” and “I’m talking about effects spreading all around from a grain of dust to the more profound.” He ends with say that while it’s hard to see “when you jump, there’s gravity!”
Sunny, glowing synths jump with powerful energy as “Astral Projection” comes to life. The synths build one on top of the other in shining layers into the open air of the track. A powerful, deeply throbbing drum beat and hollow open toms hit as a propulsive bass line moves under the wriggling, snaking lead synth. Bursting orchestra hits burst into the track as the melody dances, singing with an uplifting energy and the beat throbs on relentlessly.
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As the track draws closer to an end, there are gentle drifts of sound before we move to the dense lead synth and the drums before the charging beat hits again. The infectious lead melody keeps dancing along now as it goes to half time with the solid, bouncing drums.
“Go On Ahead” kicks off with catchy, bouncing melody played on a resonant synth. The melody is joined by an open-sounding drumbeat and dense layers of bass moving underneath it. Damokles’ unique voice comes in over a wild collection of sharp percussive sounds and edgy bass. The uplifting vocal melody carries the chorus before a slower, more flowing section breaks in and now that solo synth shines and flies in wild, leaping abandon as the beat charges on under it.
Triumph over difficulties and the need to take one’s own path are the messages contained in this song. As it starts, Damokles talks about not fitting into “the construction” as he adds, “there have been times of darkness inside me, I’ve been down to places you can’t see.” Ultimately he has “I’ve risen above it, becoming stronger and now I can shout it!”
What he shouts is the chorus that broadcasts defiance in the words, “Go on ahead, give me your best shot, I dare you! Because I’m gonna go on ahead, bringing what I’ve got, regardless of what you’ve gotta say!"
He goes on to comment that “People will say that you are defective, if you comply you’ll lose your objective” so you have to stay the course and become what you can be. He ends the song by saying, “I tell you this life is mine and I’m going up the hill and beyond the borderline.”
Deep, shifting bass and the steady, rather funky drumbeat along with an oscillating, wriggling synth line starts off “Come Out and Fly With Me.” The beat has an addictive pulse and the medium-high lead synth line with a nasal quality plays a shimmering melody with a jazzy sensibility to it. The lead is so ear-grabbing and now that high, flickering synth dances on over the oscillation and charge under it. We break to a pulse of moving bass and those big, sharp drums and now a half-time, climbing synth melody soars in.
“Now Or Never” comes into being with dense clouds of triumphant sound that are joined by a steady beat that begins to grow in energy as oscillating bursts of high synth join Damokles’ deep, powerful voice. The drums add their beat and energy to the uplifting message of the song. There’s just the right amount of energy to the music as those tom hits jump in and the song breaks to halftime. There’s a synth solo that shreds, wails, and flies as it spins out in a complex line.
A message of seizing life and enjoying it pours from the lyrics of this song as Damokles begins, “I look around and see the people walking by, so many souls are sleeping, just doing what they’re told.” He cries out, “When I look up, I see the sun up in the sky. I feel alive and free, I can do anything!”
Life is to be savoured as is expressed in the line, “with every moment that passes by, I am enjoying the ride that we are given here.” He adds that people sometimes behave as though their life will go on forever but that “in the end they haven’t even lived a single day.” Instead, he says, “I think you should treat each moment like you have it now or never, try to see the wonders now before they go away.”
He asks, “What do you want? What is your purpose in your life? Why do you hesitate? You can have everything” before the song concludes with “Get up the track, get away from that narration, jump off the shelf and just live your dream today, my friend.”
A computerized pulse of synth and a steady kick drum launch “Flavours (Silicon Blender)” before a synth with a pipe-like sound comes in playing a melody that leaps and bounces as that insistent beat is joined by vocal samples moving through. The drums add more momentum and energy to the melodic feeling. The melody is so grabbing as it moves onto a higher synth as the beat pumps. I find that the percussion section with its wide range of sounds is quite engaging. Once again, there’s another exciting, intricate synth solo to add to the energetic feeling of this track.
Damokles’ album Gravity is full of vitality, sonic interest and a characterful energy that comes from his individual songwriting, singing and musical style. His sound may be rooted in the ‘80s but it has transcended cliché to express a distinctive voice.
© 2020 Karl Magi