Synth Album Review: Jetfire Prime, "The End of the Beginning"
The End of the Beginning is a journey into space and through time with Jetfire Prime. It’s an album about exploration and leaving behind what one knows. It’s an amalgam of rich synth sounds, interesting rhythms and vast sweeps of sound.
There’s a profound sense of moving into new and uncharted spaces. Adventure and a sense of stepping into the unknown resonate throughout the album. There are moments of intensity and also soothing, delicate moments full of light.
One thing that instantly stood out for me was Jetfire Prime’s gift for crafting melodies. The trick with great melodic writing is that it should be playable on any instrument and still have the same impact. I can imagine Jetfire Prime's pure, warm melodies being played on everything from a mandolin to a saxophone and still having the same quality. One of the factors about his melodies that makes them work are the tinges of melancholy that come through in them. It’s not a bad thing in my view because even the brightest moments sometimes have a seed of something sad in them.
The End of the Beginning is an album that is full of open spaces. The production choices that Jetfire Prime has made have lead to an album that feels spacious and expansive. All of the sounds are allowed to spread outwards through the openness created for them in the production. It adds to the sense of exploration that pervades the music on this album.
Another factor in this album is the way it showcases one of my favourite things about synth-based music and that is the warm sounds produced by analog synths. There’s something about that quality of warmth that heightens the melodies that Jetfire Prime has written and emphasizes the beauty of them. Even in the tracks that have darker elements, that warmth provides a counterpoint to that weight and darkness.
Some albums seem to be composed of disparate tracks that don’t have an arc to them, but The End of the Beginning is not one of those albums. Each song seems to fit and follow in an order that suits the overall flow of the recording. It produced an enjoyable journey that felt comfortable and fitting.
Now I’ll talk about the tracks on the album which most impacted me and what it was about each of those tracks that spoke to me so strongly.
“New Beginnings” flutters to life gently but quickly establishes an interesting rhythm and synth pulsation. This track exudes sensations of power and uplift. The drums and bass are very active as the synths tick metronomically between notes. The melody that establishes itself speaks of forward progress, but the darker elements of the track tinge it with a warning. I appreciated the layered nature of the track, each piece adding to the richness of the whole.
A disembodied voice stars off “The Beginning of the End” and is soon joined by a deep bass and a slow rhythm that doesn’t let up. Single synth notes enter over the weighty beat and start to form a tightly woven pattern as they join one another. The tempo pics up and arps rise and fall as the drums kick the track into gear. Another of Jetfire Prime’s beautiful melodies begins singing out, creating a feeling of hope even in the face of “the beginning of the end.” This track has a propulsive quality that I enjoyed.
“Unalarmed” has my favourite melody on the album. It is delicate, airy and touches the ear gently. The bass that throbs under the track add body to the sound and the synths all sing into the space that surrounds them. The atmosphere of the whole track left me feeling calmed and it definitely suits the title of the track. It opened up serene vistas for my ears.
There was something heartwarming and heartbreaking about “The Shortest Distance.” Sunlight spills from the track like a blanket of sound. There’s a chiming synth playing a soothing, gently melancholy melody. It’s that combination of the beauty of the melodic content with the sense of sadness that really breaks my heart. The windswept sounds that drift out over the track add to the poignancy of it.
The End of the Beginning is one of those albums that fulfills both criteria by which I tend to judge the quality of an album. It is able to both generate mental images and fulfill the ear with beautiful melodies and rich sounds. As a showcase for Jetfire Prime’s abilities as a composer as well as an exciting journey, this album is enjoyable.