Synth Album Review: "Partners" by Soul Craft and Polyglot
One of the most heartening things to me of late in the world of synth-based music is the expansion of the sound into interesting territory. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed listening to PARTNERS. This collaboration between Soul Craft and polyglot has everything in it that I like about synth-based music. It’s a fine showcase for what synthesizers can do and the unique ambience that they provide in music. It also has enough of the vaporwave sonic aesthetic to set it apart.
The cinematic nature of synthwave is one thing that’s always drawn me to the music and here PARTNERS definite delivers. The soundscapes that the two artists have produced are certainly able to illustrate a scene and tell a story. I feel that the pair of them also carefully considered the track order to help facilitate this storytelling process.
Track by Track Review
"Into the City"
Although as a whole, the album is well done, there are some tracks that stand out for me. One of them is the opener "Into the City." This track’s sound is dominated by drifting, floating synth sounds. There’s a slight hiss of background noise that (unintentionally or not) evokes the sound of a cassette tape playing. There’s a feeling of openness and possibility in this track and it does evoke the feeling of a city’s vista opening out in front of you.
Another strong track of Soul Craft’s for me is "Midnight Deal," It has a strong sense of intrigue as the name implies. There’s this synth sound that Soul Craft uses in it that’s hard to describe but almost has a vocal quality to it which defines the song. Listening with head phones really smacks you upside the head with the bassline.
The third track that really hit me from Soul Craft is "Aptitude." The track hits with a solid bassline and keeps building into a powerful mixture of light and darkness. The synth melody in Aptitude has a beautiful combination of melancholy and warmth.
I found the first track that polyglot contributed to the album to be a standout. "Biscayne Boulevard’s" combination of sampled ambient sounds, a lingering arp that flares and fades in the background and a sense of space that allows listeners to breathe after the more intense tracks produced by Soul Craft.
I can’t get enough of "Night Life." There is something so ‘80s about this track. It just feels like something one would have heard in a slick sushi bar. I love that trumpet synth sound and the overall vibe of the track. It has such a jazzy, smooth feel. The images that it elicits in my mind’s eye are strong.
Finally, "Sailing Away" is so meditative and calm. The entire usage of the synths and the percussion generates a very gentle ambience. The soprano sax playing that Ian Smith contributes only enhances the silky smoothness of the whole experience. It’s a really strong melody as well and that drives home just how beautiful this whole track is.
What fascinates me is that each artist has a distinctive sound, but those individual sounds mesh well. In my view, Soul Craft goes for more layering and interesting contrasts in sound whereas polyglot’s overall feeling is smoother and more laid back. He’s got a stronger jazz influence that comes out in his melody writing. The differences aren’t jarring and do seem to add to the sense that this is a soundtrack to an imaginary film, each artist adding a different flavor to it.
At the end of the day, music has to make us feel if it’s to truly be effective, in my view. I absolutely had an emotional response to the music on PARTNERS and that’s why I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting synth experience.