Synth Album Review: "Neo Helsinki FM" by Millennium Falck
There’s an awful lot of dark, heavy and brooding music out there right now. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good darkwave album as much as anyone, but sometimes we all need a break and a view of something more positive.
Millennium Falck’s latest album Neo Helsinki FM is a slice of light-filled and energizing retrofuture synth music with upbeat melodies, great grooves and a general feeling of warmth that radiates from the music. This album takes us through a day in “Neo Helsinki” during the year 2080 complete with radio shows and AI hosts. It is a great deal of fun to listen to and I think we all need some of that at the moment!
The first aspect to this album that I’d like to call attention to is the melodies that Millennium Falck has written for Neo Helsinki FM. These are melodies that dance, fly and sing over the beats and bass of the album. I enjoy how uplifting and energizing all of them are and I also enjoy the lead synths that have been chosen to play them. Those synths add the right vibes to the basic quality of the melodic writing on the album.
Another part of this album that I enjoyed was the “skits” between the longer songs. The radio voices and atmosphere of the tracks contributed to the sense of fun that permeated Neo Helsinki FM. I think the choice of a French-accented announcer was rather fun too especially a I felt some of the songs had a “French” electronic music vibe to them. It’s hard to nail down but I’ve always felt there was something quite recognizable about the way the French make electronic music and I felt those vibes on some of the tracks.
The diversity of rhythms and sounds on Neo Helsinki FM was also interesting. There’s some disco influence, some real big floor fillers and moments of pop sound here but nothing disrupts the flow of the album. The sense of positive energy continues throughout and all of the styles of music just increased the listening pleasure for me.
I also have to give a shout out to all of the contributors to this album. Whether it was Bastard Beans who wrote and produced “Sunshine in my eyes” along with Larry Michaels who contributed powerful, uplifting vocals to it, the guys from Tom Selica who added talkbox, vocoder and funky guitar to “Robot Walk” or AlphaMaxx who contributed to the production on that track, their contributions added a great deal of depth and passion to the project. I think that Millennium Falck chose well in that department and the end result is a better rounded album.
Now comes my favorite part of the process of reviewing music which is talking about my favourite tracks on the album that I’m reviewing! I’ll give my listeners a run down on my reasons for picking the tracks that I’ve chosen and go into more detail about said tracks.
The sound of ‘powering up’ opens “Flashback Ivalo” along with that a fun French vocal sample. There are shining flares of synth that pop up over that slamming beat. The bass is powerful and the synth keyboard melody has a warm and positive quality to it as that beat relentlessly throbs underneath it. There is a lot of bright energy to this track and I found the club friendly beat to have a rather addictive quality to it. I also enjoyed the melodic writing chops of Millennium Falck on this track.
“Sunshine in my eyes” has a smooth mid-tempo beat and some seriously funky guitar that starts it off. The strong, energetic and intense vocals of the singer come in and definitely contribute to the “sunshine” that glows in the track. There’s a real sense of positive energy about this track. I seriously enjoy the sound and timbre of Larry Michael's voice, it has some serious guts to it and feels so uplifting. I was also a fan of the powerfully bass-driven groove and the drums that kick under it.
The lyrics are bursting with positive energy in lines like, “When it's cold I'm not connected to you/and when you're warm then I'm warm/It's been raining hard and I'm all soaked” and in that exuberant chorus of, “You bring the sunshine to my eyes/Baby that's how you do it/You bring the sunshine to my eyes.”
There’s a decided house music influence in the bass pulse of “High School Hötique” and I really enjoyed the soaring, slightly wandering feeling of the main melody. I was also a fan of the driving drums and the cut up moments of synth that come into the track. The synth solo has a guitar-like feeling to it and there’s a second bright, higher synth that really feels like it is climbing into the sky. I could imagine blissed out dancers hitting the floor to this track.
“CyberDrive” opens with a huge drum sound and a oscillating synth that comes into the music, climbing over the beat and producing an interesting effect. The synth patterns shift and move over the solid beat. I also was enamoured of the sneaky lead synth line that plays a broken melody with a slight sense of melancholy to it that comes in near the back half of the track. I also enjoyed the spacious feeling that Millennium Falck gave to this track.
I must say that “Robot Walk” is my favourite track on the album. Softly flowing synths open this track with an ethereal feeling as a wind sweeps in and is joined by an aching, gentle and yearning lead synth and the throb of the beat. The vocal work from Millennium Falck here is impassioned and strong. His voice has such a great quality and adds to the intensity of this song. I dig the idea of love so strong it could make "a robot walk.”
There is something fun about the workoutwave feeling to “In The Gym.” I dig that melody that feels so free and easy, light and laughing as it bubbles along. The vibe of sweating people with big hair and Lycra along with terry cloth headbands is strong here. I enjoy the synth because it has such positive energy and warmth about it. The whole track would put most people in the mood to sweat in a very musical way!
Neo Helsinki FM is an album that I want to spin every day, just to dispel the shadows a little bit. Millennium Falck has created a feel-good antidote to the overall state of the world in which we’re currently living. I think that the bright, positive and melodic vibes here are exactly what we need when the world gets us down.