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Synth Album Review: "Process S" by Replicant 69

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

Art by Heriberto Martinez

Art by Heriberto Martinez

Initial Impressions

Replicant 69’s Process S is an album that explores the fears, anxieties, hopes and dreams of people living in a futuristic dystopian world. The sonic palette of Process S suits that thematic material well as chimes flicker, computerized sounds move and melodies that combine hope and sadness swirl through the open spaces of the tracks. There are also moments of emotive electric guitar to add extra energy and shadowy wells of sound reminding us that darkness isn’t far away.

There’s a rich variety of synths that Replicant 69 employs to good effect on Process S. Sounds that run the gamut from crystal chimes to delicate piano and from technological angularity to shadowed darkness all combine and interact to produce a richly varied, interwoven auditory landscape that kept my ears awake.

Replicant 69 also shows off guitar chops to good effect on the album. They clearly have the ability to fly along the strings with wild abandon, but they are also able to play with more subtlety. The guitar tones used are ear-catching and add one more layer of sonic interest to the proceedings.

The melodies that Replicant 69 creates have a quality that suits the mixture of hope and anxiety on Process S. They are often full of warm feeling, but it’s a warm feeling that is touched by elements of loss and yearning. The balance of those elements creates touching emotions and a pleasant sense of melancholy.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Process S” comes to life with rising, full synth chords overlaid by sparkling motes of light as the bass shifts in short, steady pulses far below. Brighter chords keep rising as the beat is taken up to a single snare drum as the kick drum adds a throbbing feeling. I am drawn to the way in which the swirling, computerized melodic line moves in an angular pattern over delicate piano notes. There’s a break into a section with a modulating pulse of computerized synth. The music returns to glowing piano, climbing chip-like chords and the steady beat before fading on floating, shimmering sound.

A shadowy shift of flowing sound gliding into vast open space opens “Social Timing.” There’s a rough edge to the arpeggios that descend through mechanical sounds as caressing piano chores climb and the track begins to grow in volume. A nasal sounding synth sings out and soothing piano chords move above hollow, circular arpeggios and swirls of bass. The drums are easy going as the chords rise upwards.

I enjoy the balance between the harsher sounds and the smoother ones on this track. The warm, nasal synth plays drifting notes as a round, tranquil-sounding synth plays the melancholy, touching melody. A wandering pattern of metallic, shimmering synths floats by as harder, sawtoothed bass oscillates with more shadow before the track ends.

“Day Dreams” kicks off with quick waves of arpeggios that spin out into the track as chimes sparkle and dance over them. A breath of flowing synth exhales over easy, steady and smooth drums. The chimes carry an aching, heart-touching melody shot through with hope and a tinge of loss. I find the dreaming, yearning feeling of this track compelling.

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Relaxed arpeggios spin slowly under the high shine of chimes and those elements are underpinned by oscillating, rich bass. The beat shapes the music as bright stars of synth sound call out in aching but positive notes. The arpeggios create a flowing feeling that breaks to a steady bass pulse and caressing sound to close the track.

A technological flow of notes is joined by a flat, hollow bass throb and laser-like, mechanistic sound to bring “Hearts of Darkness” into being. There’s a medium high flicker of an almost pipe-organ sound over that steady, mid tempo drumbeat and an interesting bass sound with vocal qualities moves behind it all.

The way the electric guitar wheels out in open-voiced, crying notes that add an emotive flavour to the track. The guitar notes move in angular steps through the music before making a plunge down to abyssal depths. The guitar cuts into the music with an intense howl. There’s an interesting effect as it stops abruptly at the end of each phrase, as if being sliced off at that point.

“We Sell Hope…” opens with typewriter keys clacking and drifting, lonely, ethereal notes. The synth moving in bursts has a nasal, trumpet-like quality to it over the ticking drums. A more solid snare drum comes in to add support to the synths. I like the way the lead synth shimmers and glints as it moves over the beat. Quick, metallic arpeggios rise and fall as the full bass is joined by the wandering, airy synths with brass-like elements.

A martial burst of snare drum comes in and the beat accelerates with cascading shimmers of high notes falling into the music. A series of pulsing, full synth notes has piano flickering through it and a tightly wound synth cries out over the bouncing beat that anchors the track. As the track ends, the bursts of notes subdivide and the percussion fades back to the sound of typing.

Computerized, mechanical sounding notes move in arpeggiating patterns under a light, fragile piano to start “And Anxieties.” The piano dances airily over the arpeggios as they shift rapidly as the thick, full drumbeat balances with the easy breath of the piano notes. The warm guitar is impassioned as glowing notes leap out.

I am attracted to the expressive, slightly melancholy guitar melody that moves over the the slowly oscillating bass.There’s a twinkle of emotive piano as the guitar solos intricately. The solo is full of shredding notes that still feel smooth as the glide of bass throbs underneath it. The track returns to the main melody, crying out a song of aching and gentle worry as the drums and bass throb on.

“Insomnolence” breathes into being with the soft drip of rain and a swelling, shadowy sound that wells up into the open space of the track. Crystalline chiming sounds join a jazzy, low synth with a slight edge. The jazzy synth adds undeniable cool to the track as the crystal chimes glisten. A medium-high synth with cut glass edges moves over the breathy reverence of the sounds below it. The crystal chimes brush and touch, gentle and distant over the drip of rain and breaths of sound as the track ends.

Conclusion

Replicant 69’s Process S is an album full of diverse, intertwining sounds that produce clear images in my mind along with a mixture of hope and loss that adds an emotional edge to the album that I enjoyed.

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