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Synth Album Review: "Orbital" by Gravity Removed

Author:

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

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Initial Impressions

Gravity Removed’s album Orbital creates a soundscape that explores the darker side of outer space and space exploration creating ear catching soundscapes that seem to feel tense, desolate and sometimes melancholy. The way that Gravity Removed uses synth sounds gives his work a feel that is quite clearly his own and one that I was drawn into.

One way that Gravity Removed creates atmosphere on Orbital is through some of the unique synth sounds that he employs. There are harsh angular synths that cut, high shining synths that add sparkle over the depths underneath and technological and mechanical sounding synths that contribute sensations that are more mechanistic in nature. All of these various elements interact and form strong mental imagery.

Another feature of the album that helps define its musical landscape is the use of patterns in the music. There are many clusters of repeating and oscillating notes, weaving together to produce different moods and feelings, depending on the relative sensations of light and darkness that form based on the synth tones that Gravity Removed uses.

Orbital’s evocation of the emptiness and darkness of outer space comes from the combination of a spacious feeling to the production that calls to mind a great open void and deep bass that flows under the other musical elements to reinforce the sense of inky blackness moving around the listener.

Another defining feature of Orbital is the drums. Their rhythms add a pulse and throb to the tracks which keep them moving forward and tie together the feeling of patterns forming and re-forming that are a strong part of why the album feels as cohesive as it does. There is a definite heartbeat to the music.

I enjoy the overall vision of this album. The sensation that it gives is one of movement through uncharted and dangerous terrain. The dense layers of sound build up a feeling of threat that hides in the background. There are also moments that evoke a feeling of drifting without gravity as huge cosmic vistas surround the listener and dwarf them into insignificance.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Moon Patrol” combines hard edged pulses of bass with a slow smooth beat and angular synths playing a repeating pattern of notes to produce the feeling of drifting over a lunar surface. There are starry synths that drift and shine before drums shudder into the track. I like the tightly wound synths that give this track a sinister feeling as well. There’s a background of darkness lurking under the surface of the track that was quite enjoyably threatening.

There is a nervous tension about “Staging” that I find powerful. It comes from the computerized sounding synth that plays nervous sounding minor key note patterns as well as the glitchy mechanical noises underneath. There’s something engaging about the synth which has an odd vocal quality that comes in as tense arpeggios spin under it. Interestingly I also detect a hint of melancholy in those minor key synth patterns.

“Cosmic Drift” is one of the tracks on the album with a melodic bent. It’s a gentle melody that weaves airily through the music with dense clusters of spaced out notes and bass that seems to go on forever. The beat has a pulse to it as washes of soft sound flow out. I like the ghostly patterns of notes coming from a rather distant sounding synth that brushes across the other elements in the track.

The combination of high echoing notes flowing into open space and a powerful pulsing beat creates a powerful sound on “Built By Bots.” I enjoy the way those notes yearn and twist before forming a melody that plays on a medium-high synth. That melodic part feels smooth as it spins out over the throb of the beat and the deep thud of bass that defines many of the tracks on the album.

I like the sense of something otherworldly and slightly disembodied in “Exploration.” There’s a series of low, dark synth notes interlocking under higher sounds with an ethereal quality. Those low notes have a gruff quality to contrast with the ghostly feeling of the higher synths. I enjoy how everything seems to be pulsing out into vast empty space. I was also drawn to the dense washes of clustered notes that flow through while the solid beat anchors everything moving around it.

Verdict

Orbital by Gravity Removed is an album that drips with atmosphere for me. All of the sounds, synths and beats seem calculated to create imagery and sensations for the listener and I was engaged and drawn into its sonic world.