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Synth Album Review: "Inside the Algorhythm" by Damokles

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

Damokles

Damokles

Initial Impressions

Damokles’ Inside the Algorhythm fuses an entertaining variety of synthpop styles with his distinctive vocals and lyrics to produce energetic, quirky music. Damokles’ depth of musical ability is what sets them apart and adds freshness to the songs. He writes engaging melodies and paints around them with vivid, well-considered synth colours. Most of all, it’s clear that he’s having fun while doing all of that!

I enjoy the eclectic nature of the music on Inside the Algorhythm. Damokles roams through rock ’n’ roll, vintage ‘80s synthpop and funky grooves and ties them all together with intriguing, ear-pleasing synth tones, textures and timbres. I enjoy how well-produced the music is as well. There’s a great deal of sharpness, clarity and depth to the sound of the album.

Another strong element of Inside the Algorythm is Damokles’ vocal performance. He has a unique, deep-toned voice that is unmistakable for anyone else’s and he writes compelling vocal melodies. In combination with his sense of fun, this makes for songs that catch the ears and hold your attention.

There’s an undoubted sense of playfulness that infuses this album. Damokles is someone who’s been making music for a long time, but he still clearly revels in it. There’s a bright energy and a freshness to the music that is infectious. It’s clear that this is an artist who has a sense of fun and it permeates everything he does.

The sense of fun doesn’t mean that Damokles doesn’t take the music itself seriously. He writes compelling melodies, crafts detailed synthscapes to surround those melodies and pays attention to the ways in which the percussion, bass and varied synth sounds interact. He can also cut loose with wild, cool synth solos with the best of them.

My Favourite Songs Analyzed

“What Tomorrow Brings”

“What Tomorrow Brings” launches into life with a strong percussive beat and a funky bassline. Flashes of shimmering synth leap into the music and I found myself smiling at the positive energy flowing from the glowing synth melody. Damokles’ deep voice launches into his unique vocal style as light suffuses the track over the funky bass and massive percussion. The chorus ascends up over the steady heartbeat below in an uplifting arc.

There’s a huge drum fill and the sparkling sunlight of the melody calls out. Damokles’ voice soars upwards and the percussion jumps in a varied line before the chorus returns. Shining synths provide a continual gleam over the beat’s propulsion. A driving, oscillating bass pulse is punctuated by unique retro drums as the free, hopeful melody sings on a chiming synth.

This is a song that examines our lives and the phases they move through. The narrator talks about the “things that stand out along the the track of the life I have led.” He considers the highs, lows and “the way it’s unfolding.” He adds that his life’s had many chapters and realizes that “everything must come to an ending” and a new chapter will begin.

In the chorus, he talks about how life is unpredictable and “in the strife you have to be adaptable” because tomorrow is uncertain. When darker times happen, the narrator adds that “it’s kind of a comfort to know that soon there will be a new dawn.”

Our narrator reminds us that we need to enjoy the bright times because “soon it might be time to turn a page and see what’s coming next.” He concludes that “the weave, it’s so complex” and sometimes it will “drive you mad.”

“Cruising Down the Road”

Funkified drums and bass bring the groove as “Cruising Down the Road” kicks off. A nasal-sounding, glittering synth carries a jazzy, wiggling melodic line. Damokles’ smooth voice glides along over the drums and bass that sit in the pocket. It’s a groovy feeling song with a slowly slipping line of open, bright synth and Damokles’ chilled out vocals.

This song puts a twitch in the hips. I enjoy how undeniable the bass and drums are as a shredding, whirling solo leaps out on the nasal, medium high synth, cascading through the groovy drums and bass. as again that wriggling, infectious lead synth melody dances through and the drums are locked in.

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Sometimes we just need to cruise and chill out. Our narrator talks about “just letting all my thoughts go” and moving into a state of mind where “time just disappears” as he drives. In the car, he can forget all his tears and be “feeling like a star.” As he cruises along, he’s “taking off the load.” It leaves him “longing for this moment” so he can drive away with music playing.

“From a Distance”

“From a Distance” kicks off with a beat that has a bouncing throb as dynamic, luminous synth swings into the music carrying an ethereal sensation. Damokles' full, rich voice carries a melody that hopes and wishes. I enjoy the wistful touch to his vocals as quick, glowing synth bursts flow over the actively moving bass. There’s a percussion break and then the dense flashes of synth dance in while Damokles’ voice is full of need.

The bass and drums throb to add shape and motion to the song. Elevated synth wiggles in a melodic line that skips and glides along. A descending flow of medium-high, nasal sounding synth spins into a whirling, flying solo that winds through the song, crying up above Damokles’ expressive voice. The angular bass line shifts and open, trickling synth sounds move through. The song ends on the active bassline.

This song is a tale of tongue tied, hesitant love. Our narrator sees the object of his affection every day but doesn’t know what to say to them. He wants to say ‘hi’ but “I fall through and every day passes by.” In the chorus he says “I am in need of some assistance, I’m just observing from a distance” despite knowing that he should act.

The narrator’s “stranded” when he can’t say anything and feels “branded” so he’s got to stay in the dark. He still realizes that “I need to step into existence” and not just observe from a distance. He adds,” I just can’t leave this unresolved.”

Our narrator know that “we could be walking hand in hand” if only he could “break out of my chains.”

“Rockin’ Into Outer Space”

Distant, spaced-out synths are swept by a rapid rush of rough sound and a robotic voice comes in to open “Rockin’ Into Outer Space” as the kick drum thumps you in the chest. A rushing synth storm carries a driving rock riff while Damokles' strong voice arcs up over the rocking pattern and slamming drums as the song charges on.

I enjoy the way that Damokles stretches his vocal range upwards as the track rockets onward as leaping synth energy flares. The drums are dynamic and the vocals are expressive. The snarling synths bite and the beat doesn’t end. The screaming, shredding synth solo howls out in a tearing, glowing line and Damokles’ vocals echo into the openness around them.

This song is pure fun! The narrator talks about how he’s “looking ahead into a distant future” where our music has spread through the universe, but its roots live on in a “treasure of worth.” In the chorus, he points out that “there will always be a soul and its name is rock ’n’ roll.” It will “live on into outer space.”

Our narrator predicts that “all sentient forms in our galaxy” will want to open their homes “to invite the magic pulse of the beat we have spawned.” He envisions starships flying “to bring a message of truth” which is that it’s undeniable that “every being needs rock ’n’ roll.”

The narrator concludes that wherever the “the giant vessels will go, the beat is there right from the outskirts to the big black hole.”

“Magic Summer Nights”

“Magic Summer Nights” comes into being as tropical percussion taps into the track through clouds of airy sound and the wash of warm ocean waves. A groovy bassline writhes in a slinky line along with tropical drums and a minor, key, laidback synth line glides through. Damokles’ vocals are positive and caressing as they come in. The glowing, gentle synths shine out over that percussion and bass groove.

I am enamoured of the drifting melody's wistful quality as it expresses the realization that eventually this tropical break has to end. A descending, smooth synth line dances along and the broad, shiny melody slips through with a sunny flow. Steel drum synths have a sunny sense of relaxation while Damokles’ vocals take it easy, carrying the soothing vocal melody.

Sometimes we all need an escape so we can “walk together in the evening breeze” on a warm beach. The narrator talks about being “in perfect weather and in harmony” in the only place in the universe he wants to be. All he needs to worry about is “music from afar, drinks in hand from the bar.” It’s the essence of a great holiday.

Our narrator talks about lazing around “in the glimmer of the lights” and wanting to “stay forever here in the magic summer nights.” Mundane worries disappear as they walk in the sand “up by the bay” and become “bedazzled in the polychrome.” The narrator concludes that “life is much better when you’re far away from home.”

“Standing on Mars”

Aching emotion pours from a metallic, elevated synth full of cascading light as “Standing on Mars” starts. I am drawn to Damokles’ voice, deep and emotive, as it carries a vocal melody heaving with the mixed emotions of hope and remembered loss while the massive drumbeat adds muscle and forward motion.

The vocal melody has a bluesy twist to it and Damokles puts deep feeling into his singing. Starry synth shine floods the song with distant glow and he trumpeting, elevated synth cries out with mixed hope and loss. The song fades out on sweeping, warmly shining synth sounds.

This song projects a future in which humanity has colonized Mars. The narrator looks back at when people first arrived on Mars and “fought so hard to make it grow.” He points out that it wasn’t how we planned it, instead it happened because we were "in a fight for our lives, struggling to breathe and survive.”

The narrator talks of “standing on Mars and looking up in the sky to see where we came from.” On the planet’s surface he reflects on how Mars “made us say our goodbyes to the things we took for granted then.” Now the colony is thriving and there’s “plenty H2O” but he adds that lives were lost and “making it work was a cost.”

“Turn One Page”

“Turn One Page” commences with rapidly oscillating, gruff synth that’s joined by throbbing drums playing a disco beat. A blaring, medium-high synth carries an energizing melody that leaps out over Damokles’ sweeping dramatic voice. Bright flashes of synth accent the leaping vocal melody to add more energy. I enjoy how Damokles’ deep, emotive voice carries the inspiring vocals.

Brassy and bursting synths dance along over the easily skipping drumbeat, There’s a break to a half time pulse as the big drums hit and accents of shimmering synth flash. Damokles’ voice climbs up with passionate energy and the lead melody returns before the glittering, wheeling synth solo jumps forward. The bursting beat and dynamic oscillating bass launch one last time before glowing, echoing synth ends the song.

In life, sometimes we wear disguises that prevent us from reaching our full potential. The narrator asks, “Have you ever felt that you just don't fit in?” He continues by pointing out that it might be time to “realize that the day has come to drop your own disguise.” The narrator encourages people to “show yourself for what you are, you can be a super star!”

In the chorus, the narrator calls on us to “turn one page and see what life can be” and leave 
“the cage” because we’ll be set free. He goes on to say that “there will be a new tomorrow if you dare” so it’s important to take the first step on the path. The narrator continues, “Just start to move. It's yourself you have to prove!”

The narrator’s advice, when you feel down and out, is to “take control of what you think about.” He concludes that if you “tell yourself you will pull through, after some practice, you'll believe it too!”

“You and I”

An active, broken bass pattern wanders through “You and I” as it begins. Echoing, vibrating, medium-high synth trembles out in gently shiny waves as crystalline chimes sparkle starkly through the song. I enjoy how Damokles’ voice is rich with feeling, drifting with resonant depth as the trembling pulses of synth shift. The beat accelerates as the vocals arc up and shimmering, flashing synth clouds flicker all around.

There’s a return to the dynamic bass, deep drums echo and add shape. Damokles’ voice calls out and the beat charges. The dreamy, hopeful melody sings out on a glimmering, medium-high synths. Arpeggios twirl in glowing lines and the angular bass moves below them. Rippling, rising arpeggios spin out and the uplifting chorus soars out. The track ends on angular bass and solid retro drums.

Sometimes we end up in relationships that almost seem unreal because they are so positive as a whole. This song tells the story of one of those relationships. The narrator starts by saying that “movie love is hard to find” but every once in a while you meet someone "with a personality, kinder and fiercer than anything from Hollywood” and the connection lasts.

Our narrator goes on to say that he and his beloved are “joined in battle by the hip, stronger than anything.” He goes to say that he’s glad they are together. It wasn’t plain sailing all the time as he adds, “we’ve been through some stormy weather.” Now they are “unified” as they built a life with each other.

Before the narrator met the other person, there were “doubts deep in my mind” about if he’d meet someone to “be my partner in life.” He adds that “when to fight and when to yield
is a lesson hard to learn” but implies that he and the other person have learned it. In the end, they will be “ unified to conquer the darkest hour.”

Final Thoughts

Inside the Algorhythm combines lush melodies, expressive vocals and bursting dynamism in a well-produced whole that oozes poppy fun from every pore. What sets this album apart is the way in which Damokles’ great skill and long experience with synth-based music makes for polished and enjoyable listening.

© 2021 Karl Magi

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