Synth Album Review: OSC, "Ideality"
I’ve always appreciated the way in which OSC explores diverse sonic territory while sticking to a synth-y sound palette. Ideality is his take on synth-funk, and if you like seriously groovy music with a real funk sensibility, I’d say that this album delivers that in copious amounts.
"Ideality" Album Review
In my view, if you’re going to make an album that has very strong influences from a particular style, you might as well go all the way with it. OSC has seemingly mainlined funk into his veins while making this album and it shows. All of the melodic and harmonic qualities that make funk music great are present here in abundance.
Right from the top, the mood of this album is more upbeat than the dark cyberpunk synth sounds that are being produced more lately. Not that I mind that sound, but it is nice to have music that lifts the spirits. These days, more than ever, I personally crave positive vibes to offset the negativity permeating the cultural landscape.
Another aspect of Ideality that I found pleasing were the synth solos that liberally sprinkle the album. OSC’s got a flair for jazzy improvization that enhances the musical qualities of the album. Obviously jazz has had a profound influence on funk and OSC honours that heritage by letting his jazz chops shine through on the album and lift it up.
The thoughtful use of vocals also adds a great deal of spice to the musical recipe of Ideality. Using a late ‘80s/early ‘90s style rap on the opening track and having the positive lyrics and upbeat melody in Hopscotch enhanced the engaging and warming nature of the album. OSC didn’t overuse vocals, but deployed them strategically at points that I felt were fitting.
I’ve got no quibbles at all about the quality of the production here. The mix, to my ears, works well and I especially like the strong sounds of the percussion on Ideality. As a fan of chiptune, I think that OSC’s use of those elements on "It Starts With a Chip" did enhance the track. That may just be my personal bias however.
Now we come to the point in my review where I pull out some of the tracks that I felt really stood out on the album and talk about why I found them so compelling.
"Hopscotch" is a track that charmed me. It starts off with some fun percussion and drums. The whole track just oozes a strong electro-funk vibe and I dig the slap bass on the track. The vocals sound really good and I was smiling at the positive, upbeat nature of the lyrics too. There’s a flute-like synth melody that hits which is so energetic and jazzy that it sucked me in. The whole track just warmed me.
"It Starts With a Chip" is another track I couldn’t stop listening to. It has the well-deployed chip elements that I mentioned earlier and a melody that reminds me of a Konami video game score. The whole track gels nicely and I like the chip arps that are sprinkled throughout the music. The other element that I really dug in this track was the organ solo which showcased OSC’s chops really well.
"Overlit (Part 1)" opens with a nice piano sound with synths sweeping gently under it. Once we get the groove, there are distinctly disco vibes coming off of it. The synth flute that dances over the groove is really tasty and the overall interplay of percussion and synths really got me going.
There was something about "Dad’s Old Volvo" for which I really had an affinity. It starts off with stabs of synth emerging from an ethereal background, but once the drums solidly kick in my head begins to nod. I like the synth/piano combination on this track as the combination seems to work well. The melody is inviting and catchy and all the sounds feel locked in on the track.
At the end of the day, some synthwave purists might not like Ideality. I'd say that’s their problem because personally I enjoyed OSC’s exploration of the sonic territory known as funk. I felt like Ideality respected the musical integrity of funk while adding a uniquely synth-y touch to it and I would encourage anyone with the desire to hear all of the different facets of synth-based music to check it out.