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Synth Album Review: "Invasion" by Disco Men From Mars

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Initial Impressions

Disco Men From Mars’ Invasion is a tribute to all of the richness and complexity of synth-based music. It combines a fascinating profusion of different synth sounds with a wide variety of stylistic influences to create lush, textured music. There is also strong melodic writing and a sense of fun added to the mix on the album.

Let’s talk about those synth sounds. Disco Men From Mars explore the full range of timbres, tones and emotions that can be extracted from synthesizers on Invasion. They interlock high glittering sparkles, saw-toothed growling and lambent warmth in a sonic tapestry that is rich but doesn’t create complexity for complexity’s sake. Each synth is clear and distinct, but together they produce a coherent whole.

I enjoy the way in which Invasion travels from cool jazz to chip tune and from a reggae groove to the pumping beat of disco. There’s an enjoyable cocktail of different genres that are joyfully mixed to produce an engaging and fun musical journey on which Disco Men From Mars takes the listener’s ears. When the samples from various movies and other sources are added in, they only add to the playful nature of the album.

The melodic writing on display by Disco Men From Mars is engaging. They are able to craft melodies that are catchy without being overbearing. The melodies on this album also have two qualities which I especially enjoy. The first quality is a timeless feeling that makes some of the melodies seem as if they might have existed forever. The second quality is the way in which they combine melancholy and more positive feelings in one tidy package.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Invasion” starts off with a deep, hollow rush of air flowing through the track and a rattling twist of sound. A burst of dark bass rumble is joined by a well-chosen vocal sample from Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds.”

A line of high piano notes glitters over a well of rising, deep sound and now a dark pulse of constant bass throbs out over the open space around it and a high, chiming sound briefly touches before a shadowed, tense sweep of medium low synth cuts over the constant bass pulse and the big drums.

Descending bass chords rise and fall over driving, massive drums to open “Midnight Surfer" and a jazz inflected melody carried on an organ. High, bright, nasal synth carries the groovy melody that whirls and dances up above that big beat, spinning and cascading. A disco beat moves under raised, glockenspiel-like notes while full synth carries a drifting melody that is touched by warm haze.

I find the glow of the melody quite compelling on this track. A hard hitting, gritty bass pulse contrasts with an ultra high synth carrying a melodic pattern, crying out over the strong disco beat. There’s an ear-grabbing hollow drum sound that moves under a glowing, tightly dancing high line of synth that slides over the beat’s pulse while full, shimmering notes sparkle over the drums and into silence.

“Voulez-Vous Danser Avec Moi?” comes to life with a slow, low, oscillating bass pulse below the steady drums and medium low, hollow synth swirls over the beat’s steady throb. The pipe-like synth carries a shifting pattern of notes while long sweeps of sound grow in circular motion. I enjoy the mixture of aching emotion and energy in the melody of this track. The active bass line climbs and falls as glimmering synth drifts in starry clouds over it.

A series of warm, full synth chords blossoms in delicate sound over the throbbing beat. Unique percussion breaks into the track before the intertwined hope and melancholy of the lead melody comes in again. The ear teasing percussion sounds move with another vocal sample and the hollow oscillation of synth. A computerized, angular sounding synth repeats a bouncing melodic pattern and then silence.

Oscillating waves of rough-edged low synth throb into the music to kick off “Interstellar Overpass.” The drum beat hits hard below a warm, nasal synth carrying shifting chords below a higher, more crystalline synth playing a melodic pattern. The nasal, whirling lead synth melody soars triumphantly but is leavened with a little melancholy.

I am drawn to the extremely high secondary melody as it reaches for the stars, glistening high over the drums. Ultra high synth cries out before the lead melody calls majestically over the steady insistence of the beat. A steady percussive pattern throbs out before the dark, distorted voice of the lead synth sings a more shadowed, lost feeling melody.

“Detour Alley” comes into being with a metallic, uneven pulse that’s joined by reverberating chimes that move delicately as the beat softly taps below them. Quick, nasal sounding arpeggio move with a glow behind a pipe-like, wandering lead synth. There’s an ancient feeling to the mode of the main melody, something that transcends modernity to speak to more primal emotions which I quite enjoy.

Piano notes move over a throbbing beat that is now joined by 8-bit sounds that carry a roaming melody over the insistent bass pulse. The melody sings out, speaking of journeys and adventures, its voice reminiscent of a Japanese roleplaying game score. Quick arpeggios move over the throbbing beat and a line of rising and abruptly dropping synth.

Glistening chimes sparkle over deep, reverberating blocks of synth sound to open “DJ Hal 9000 Beach Blanket Bebop” before a dynamic beat throbs below a distorted, full synth carrying the lead melody. There’s a sensation of progress and hope that radiates from the main melody as a buzzing synth adds support, while the drums pulsate and the bass adds weight to the music. Appropriately this track uses samples from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

I am drawn to the segment of this track that launches into a full blown reggae jam. It adds an element of fun to the music that I find so enjoyable. The “A” section launches into life again as the steady, energizing beat throbs under it. There’s another reggae breakdown followed by a drum fill, after which rapid arpeggios tremble over battering drums. One more dose of sunny reggae vibes comes in before the track fades out.

“Downtown Dystopia, 3 AM” comes into being with harsh, buzzing synth and massive, militaristic drums thundering below piano-based jazz chords. A sawtoothed, elevated synth contrasts with the smooth flow of the cool, easy-going piano notes as the steady bass pulse moves below. It’s a contrast that I enjoy a great deal. The beat has an easy flowing throb to it as the jazz piano writhes and slides over top it.

The oscillating, shadowy pulse is pierced by technological noises and a wash of piano notes that dance through over it. A driving bass pulse and computerized lead synth come in carrying a wandering melody that bends and wriggles over the pulsating bass, making a twisty and establishing a hypnotic pattern of notes over that beat. The notes slowly and then more rapidly cascade, the brittle brightness of the computer like sound descending into space in which massive drums batter before fading

The unique sound of a Moog synth playing chords that flow out in floating waves starts off “Moog Sunset.” The lead melody arcs out, wandering and twisting, shivering through the track with a dreamy, warm voice that I quite enjoy. A shuddering, bright synth sound trickles through and begins to establish quick, arpeggiating patterns that add texture to the music as they rise and fall.

The beat bursts and dances while bass descends under the arpeggios before the beat changes character again. Minor key chords climb and grow warmer as they rise while the roaming lead synth melody weaves in and out, feeling a bit mournful and melancholy. Sparkling stars of synth move over the slower drums and into silence.

“Mission Accomplished” springs to life with a popping synth that bounces back and forth with the smoothly flowing beat. The nasal-sounding lead synth cries out with fuzzy, caressing warmth in a rising melody while piano shines and flutters behind it. The melody is full of a dreamy sense of hope and yearning by which I am compelled. There’s a rich, all encompassing feeling that spreads throughout the track from the main melody.

Glistening synth lead cries out over the piano’s shimmer and the wistful ache of the melody. Patterns of cascading, climbing notes move as the beat shapes the music before the track breaks to an arcing, wandering line of computerized synth over the oscillating bass line. Angular, slow patterns of 8-bit notes arpeggiate and add more motion to the track. Reverent choral sounds move along with percussion into open space and then silence.

Conclusion

Invasion is a synth album that takes me on a journey. It uses the complexity and variety of synthesizers to create strong imagery while having a good time doing so. I am drawn to the sense of fun and engaging musical elements that Disco Men From Mars weave together on the album.

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