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Synth Album Review: "Looking for the Sound" by eLxAr

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

"Looking for the Sound"

"Looking for the Sound"

Initial Impressions

eLxAr’s Looking for the Sound creates a sensation of journeying through temporal and spatial realms as it unfolds its interlacing, detailed synth palette and melodic depth. There’s a feeling of cohesion and a strong image-making component to this album that keeps me interested.

Melodic writing is one of eLxAr’s fortes on Looking for the Sound. They create a melodic environment that has a strong emotional centre to it. There is a directness to the melodies that I enjoy, along with a heart-tugging feeling of hope that arises which I find deeply touching.

Another aspect of Looking for the Sound to which I am drawn is the detailed synthscape that eLxAr explores on the album. The sonic palette moves from tremulous, delicate synths to those that are more gruff and shifts from dynamic energy to pained melancholy. There’s a layered richness to all of the synths and their interactions create more emotive moments.

I also enjoy the way in which the melodies, the harmonies and the synths are deployed to paint mental images on the album. There are colours and sensations that arise which powerfully conveyed pictures into my mind. I appreciate the care taken by eLxAr in generating that strong imagery.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

"Looking for the Sound"

"Looking for the Sound" comes into being as, out of silence, a deeply throbbing bass oscillation pushes into the music while broad, bright synths rise in shivering, shifting lines. I enjoy the way those synths tremble over the harsh, grainy, guitar-like pulse and the chest thumping bass. The bass oscillation below the other elements pulsates evenly, a steady movement of sound while the gigantic drums briefly call out and shimmering, distant synths are swept away by a rush of air.

“Summer Seaside Run”

Airy, easy-going arpeggios dance lightly as “Summer Seaside Run” starts out. The background has a slight, subtle hiss like a cassette tape while a smoothly flowing, skipping drum beat is joined by an all encompassing medium-low synth carrying a glowing melody. The steady beat moves the track onwards underneath the nasal, positive-feeling synth melody. Softly touching arpeggios keep dancing in circles while the smooth, body hugging synth floats in the foreground.

The nasal-sounding, outwardly expanding melodic pattern fades to breathy delicacy. I find the mellifluous quality of the tremulously gentle, string-like synth melody deeply appealing. The drum beat and dense bass form a solid bed of support until the string-like synth fades out. There’s a return to the nasal, frolicking lead synth that sings out its hopeful melody. A steady bass pulse and the slowly turning arpeggio slip through before the long, nasal notes in the foreground flow out into silence.

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“Arcade Story”

“Arcade Story” breathes into existence with the strongly nostalgic sound of a classic arcade before a rush of air sweeps in around a glittering, smoothly circling arpeggio. Elevated, distant digital synth chimes in while the massive drums add a propulsive beat. A swelling rush of smooth, dreamy digital sounding synth moves in. I am compelled by the encouraging melody which is imbued with hopeful light as it sings out.

The melody yearns, full of a childlike sense of the world, light and without fear. It glides along over the scudding beat and steady bass heartbeat. Tambourine sounds add a further soft, percussive touch while the glowing melody is like golden sun washing onto my face. The arpeggios gently add sonic texture over the beat’s movement before fading back into the arcade sounds.

“Moment of Tragedy (Feat. Bahkin)"

Echoing, mournful string-like synth floats off into open space to start off “Moment of Tragedy (feat. Bahkin)." A slightly tense, continually spinning arpeggio unwinds and now as the drums hit in a solid, dynamic pulse. Long, triumphant-feeling notes sweep in on a powerful breath as a medium-high synth joins it.

I enjoy the way that glittering synth feels lonely and cold. The powerfully throbbing bass and beat are split by a distantly separated pattern of digital notes, feeling tentative and wandering as they move in clusters. There’s a break for truly huge drum fills and the echoing, roaming melody makes its melancholy way through the music. The track is full of sorrow and a while the oscillating, steady bass pulse is swept by wind before the trailing lines of elevated synth fade away.

“Transcendence”

“Transcendence” comes to life with a climbing line of evolving, full synth chords that shift through major and minor keys. Wide drums pulsate and a quick, throbbing bass with gritty edges is joined by a swelling, flowing line of shifting synth. A repeating pulse of trickling, hollow synth adds more aural texture to the track. I am hooked on the melody’s combination of shadow and a reaching feeling as it’s carried by a medium- low, reverberating string-like synth.

The drum beat’s steady, smooth pulsing goes on and an inspiring voice over echoes out powerfully. The hollow arpeggio keeps on spinning over the rising chords and the main melody returns above the huge, insistent percussion. A more delicate, pained melodic line now calls out on a smoothly gliding medium-high synth, imbued with expressive feeling. The voice over comes into the darker feeling sound before fading on warm chords.

Final Thoughts

Looking for the Sound is a synth album that operates on an emotional level while still respecting rich musicality and good production. If this is any indication, I am going to be excited to get my ears on their next album!

© 2021 Karl Magi

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