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Synth Album Review: "Human Wreck" by Hypervinylator and Guests

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

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Overall Impressions

Hypervinylator (Simo Sainio) weaves a layered, retro synth tapestry on Human Wreck combining a stellar lineup of guest vocalists, his emotional and image-rich songwriting and strong melodies played on varied, well-chosen synths that explore the complicated state that is human life and love.

Human Wreck has a superb vocal lineup that instantly draws me into it. All of the guest artists put in performances that are expressive, individual and heartfelt. They each bring their own distinctive style and sound to the album, but as a whole they produce music that is engaging and earnest in the best way possible. I found myself touched and moved by their singing.

Simo Sainio has a knack for writing songs that create intense and sometimes beautiful imagery. He sculpts his words to explore love, loss, nostalgia and disappointment in equal measure. I get the feeling that he’s pouring his heart onto the page and leaving nothing behind. His songwriting voice is as distinctive and engaging as the singers who perform the songs.

I also enjoy how Human Wreck melds great melodic writing with a selection of synths that help translate those melodies into expressive, entertaining sound. There’s a undeniable ‘80s sensibility to the music with clear, clean melodies that are full of feeling. The way the synth palette takes the musical notes and gives them life explores everything from sparkling chimes to rich bass. I also enjoy the reedy sax voice that leaps out through many of the tracks.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Let Me In”

“Let Me In” leaps to life with throbbing retro drums and a shimmering melodic line that has a mingled feeling of hope and loss in it. The powerful drums drive on and a quick flash of chimes hits before Juha Vormanen’s strongly expressive voice carries a melody that climbs to create positive feelings while moving through parts that convey more painful emotions. Chimes sparkle and dance over the beat as it pushes on, adding luminosity to the music.

The “A” section melody returns while the dynamic bass further lifts energy levels. Juha Vormanen’s vocal performance is a good showcase for the richness of his emotional expression. Chimes flicker in a rapidly leaping line, crying out far above the other musical elements in a free wheeling solo over the drums and bass. A huge drum fill gets us back to the main melody as it mixes sadder feelings with hopeful spikes of more positive sound.

The narrator of the song sees that the song’s subject has their head “inside a rainy cloud of gloom” even though the “mask you wear” is starting to crack. He goes on to remind them that they don’t have to be defensive because “I just want to help you make sense of everything that's eating you.”

Our narrator adds that he’d help but the other person won’t let him in. He explains that “I don't wanna see you sad.” The narrator says that he is there for the other person and that he’s never seen them so sad. He pleads, “Just let it out and share what's going on.” He continues by saying that they can work it out but the other person has to let him in.

“Doing My Part”

Chimes shine with crystalline light that is broken into by massive drums flourishing in between the flashing notes as “Doing My Part” opens. Ian Hardwick’s distinctive, resonant voice carries a dreamy melody with a classic ‘80s sound. Trickling shimmer on the chimes as Ian Hardwick’s voice crests in an emotive peak, full of longing.

Flickering, elevated synths glow and a sax reaches out in a resonant melodic line. There’s a good balance between gentleness and soaring power in Ian Hardwick’s voice that I am drawn to. The vocal melody jumps up to create a sense of possibility while dancing arpeggios add texture to the music.The sax’s warmth intertwines with the vocals, the earnest nature of its reedy expression adding more to the music.

This song explores the struggles we face when relationships change. The narrator talks about how, when he first met the other person, he was “weird and nervous” but later that night “our hearts were melding together.” He had thought that “the rest is history” but now “words can’t reach you any more.”

Our narrator feels like he’s “banging his head” against their door and since “open sesame” didn’t work, he has to “find the magic word to your heart.” Frustration fills him as he is being shut out and he adds “I’m tired of doing my part” and wonders why the other person has pulled down the blinds.

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At the end of the day, he feels that he’s been a fool. He explains that he’s tried to change but concludes, “ If you’re looking for the perfect guy, maybe you should look another way.”

“Human Wreck”

“Human Wreck” begins with a quick wash of radiant sounds that rock back and forth, supported by thick bass and sweeping synths that shiver behind Lillia K’s tremulous vocals. The vocal melody floats, heavy with melancholy, as reverberant sounds echo out around it. Angular, active bass gives a dynamic lift to the music as the glittering chimes burst out. There’s a heartstring tugging twinge of emotion in Lillia K’s voice that I find touching.

The throbbing and shifting synth tapestry has both forward motion and sadness inside of it. A segment with a quickly shimmering, chiming melody feels more hopeful as the sax whirls out a solo that climbs, full of more uplifting sentiment than the vocal melody’s emotional palette before coming to an end on shiny chimes.

This is a song about trying to rebuild broken trust. The narrator talks about how they’ve become a “human wreck” and hasn’t “played with a full deck” since their cards have been taken away. They add they’ve “lost the words” and the moves. Now “in my head the silent man was born” and they’d rather play by themselves.

The narrator says, “So please excuse me if I don’t dance with you, please excuse me if I hold on to you” because building trust takes a very long time. They talk about how they “took the blame in this game” and was pushed “off the rails.” Now the narrator talks about having walked gently “on nails” to become a “wounded soul.” They are slowly moving on but “the pain is never gone.”

“Another Destiny”

A steadily throbbing kick drum, rippling lines of full, digital synth and an active, angular bass line open “Another Destiny”. A razor-edged, medium-high synth carries an evolving, exciting melody while oscillating bass energy underpins it. Clean, cut-glass synth accompanies David Luke’s youthful, smooth voice. The vocal melody skillfully evokes emotions ranging between resignation and frustration.

The bass and drums keep on moving while tightly, constrained, shining synth carries a roaming melodic line. David Luke’s full, evocative voice veers between minor key twist and more major key moments. Over all, the high, piping synth cries out with another layer of emotion that hurts along with whirling arpeggios before silence falls.

This is a song about the damage that a broken relationship can create in someone’s life. The narrator talks about how he remembers his lover saying they were meant to be. Now he feels that “I will never see…I will never be…another destiny.”

Things have changed since the beginning and our narrator says that “something’s burning and I smell the fumes.” He now feels that he must “lock my heart” from another destiny since the other person got scared and is trying to leave.

Using the metaphor of flowers that “wither and decay” to talk about the relationship, he asks how he can judge the other person’s choices or “rein a dead horse.” He realizes that “saying so doesn’t make it so. He concludes that at times, things in a relationship are “hard to see and riddled with ambiguity.”

“Best Time”

“Best Time” comes into being as a lush, resonant synth is joined by a drifting, delicate melody carried on gleaming chimes over the unique percussion’s solid beat. Soul’s smooth soft vocals glide as easily as the synths while flashes of light shimmer from rapid, tinkling chimes as they arpeggiate rapidly.

A medium-high synth melody bursts with nostalgic sweetness cries out as the beat throbs below it. Soul imbues the words with an earnest yearning as he sings, making my heart ache through his performance. Sparks of crystal sound flicker along with the steady heartbeat of the drums,

This is a song about the loss of innocence and nostalgia for times past. The narrator looks back on the days when he and the song’s subject went “crashing through the fence in an old car hurricane” and “played out our rivalries just like a movie scene.” I enjoy the imagery of them as they were “careless in the golden summer’s breast.”

In the chorus, our narrator talks of his nostalgia for the “sweet childhood mischief” they shared and wishes he’d kept the stories they “recorded on cheap cassettes” so he could hear the other person’s voice again. He wants to remember the best times of his life.

Reality cruelly intrudes as “your daddy was drinking and your mommy was screaming” so she moved away with the children. The narrator points out that “the first glimpse of adult life moves us away from being kids” because there’s “always someone drinking, there’s always someone screaming” and after that, innocence is gone.

“Closer”

Rough-edged bass is joined by wide-feeling, medium-high synths carrying a slowly revolving note pattern to start “Closer.” Powerful synth chords with an edge of sadness join the depth and strength of the bass in a slowly shifting line. Alicia Orozco’s deeply emotive, sweet voice carries a dreaming melody that I feel intensely.

Strong drums and bass throb while Alicia Orozco gives tender voice to the love within the lyrics. Electric guitar adds its luscious, smooth voice with a melody full of caressing sensation is it soars out. High, glittering synth joins in with its own melodic line that burns with deep affection as the vocals yearn and tremble over the power below them.

This is a song of deep need as the narrator calls out to her object of affection. She asks for them to hold her closer and feel her heartbeat. She cries out for them to “make this moment last forever.”

Our narrator adds that the other person is all she has in the moment, asking them to “move me - don’t wound me.” There’s vulnerability as she says “my defences are down, you can do what you want” but she is open as she asks the other person to “bring me closer to your heart.”

“Land of the Nearly Dead”

“Land of the Nearly Dead” commences with tightly-wound synth carrying a bouncing note pattern and the drums come in quick bursts. Metallic piano carries vibrating notes that flash into the song with a shine that cuts through Yuuko’s easily gliding, emotive vocals. A melody that has a pang of sadness in it adds to the expression of the lyrics.


Cascading, glittering synths add another delicate layer of melodic sound as they dance and twirl, skipping over the active bass and the popping drums. There’s an intense shine from the high synth parts that adds a contrast to the deep bass weight underneath.

The narrator here is speaking to someone who is laying “with your final breaths” as she asks for them to be her “guide in the land of the nearly dead” because there’s nothing to hide. Again she asks for the person to be her guide, adding that there’s “nothing to cry.” Our narrator still asks for them to “stay for another day, provide us some other pain” and fight for “just some more fame.”

“Crystal Tears”

The solidity of the drums and the bass underpins ringing chimes to start “Crystal Tears” and Elena Ravelli’s distinctive, soaring voice leaps out in a melody that hurts and needs. Drums and bass add motion and energy as Elena Ravelli’s voice flies expressively over the top. The lead synth melody has a minor key twist as it mingles positivity with darker sensations.

I enjoy how Elena Ravelli’s strong, touching voice carries yearning and need so fully. Elevated, shining synths sparkle while the angular, shaded but still tinged with hope melody is carried on the medium-low synths and the sax reedily expresses the same emotion in its tones as the vocals.

This is a song about lost love as the “deepest freeze” comes over the narrator. She says that “seconds tick oh so anxiously” and there’s almost desperate need as she asks for the other person to “kiss me now, hold me now” and reassure her that “it will be better somehow.” Our narrator gives her promise that she won’t forget and even in her pain “you hold back my crystal tears.”

She tells the other person that they gave her “my greatest years” and there’s disbelief that it’s over, that “somehow the reasons why don’t add up.” The narrator simply states that it’s “hard to say goodbye.”

Now the crystal tears return as the “summer breeze” washes over her and she finds herself in “ distant memories bright as day.” She hears the other person’s voice say “baby you always found a way.” Our narrator says that “through the years, and through the tears I will remember you.” As the song ends, she says that she’s still “saying goodbye to crystal tears."

“Push and Pull”

“Push and Pull” begins as gliding, ethereal synths play a misty melody over broken bass. Drums throb and the bass oscillates while swirling, flowing synth carries the tenuous melody over the bass heartbeat. Elevated synths flicker and shimmer as Chiara Tahnee’s shadowy, emotive vocals express intense feeling.

Massive bass oscillation effectively contrasts with rapid, glittering synth. The melody is touched with tragedy while Chiara Tahnee’s expression and vocal strength punch the lyrics home while the drums batter.

There is a tidal tugging in the song, driven by the bass. Raised synths play a melody mingling bright feeling and agony while the bass surges and the drums pulse with real energy.

Sometimes relationships we get into end up trapping us in cycles of repeating behaviour. This song bgins as the narrator says that she thought they had it but “oh no again you renege it” and go “back to one.” She adds “I was ready for some changes, Lord knows I could take it.” There’s confidence as she says that she’ll find a way out but “just not tonight.”

In the chorus, she talks about being caught in “push and pull” as the circle gets smaller. She adds that they are “reaching in” but it doesn’t bring them closer. She warns the other person that “we’re running out of time.” Our narrator points out that “it’s getting old” as they continue to miss one another. The chorus repeats but as it ends she adds that “we’re getting old now” and the time is shorter.

Conclusion

Human Wreck is the product of five years of work by Simo Sainio. This dedication shows in the emotional depth of the music and in how well-produced and lovingly crafted it is. Human Wreck has whetted my appetite for more of Hypervinylator’s music to be sure.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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