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Synth Album Review: "Robots & Computers" by The Pyramid

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

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Initial Impressions

The Pyramid’s Robots & Computers is dramatic, intense and emotional synth music that feels massive in scale and is full of uplifting melodies that breathe with feeling. The concept of the album is paying homage to famous robots and computers.This is an album that illustrates the fact that synthesized music is capable of being every bit as expressive and emotive as analog instrumentation if done properly.

The defining factor of my attraction to Robots & Computers is The Pyramid’s skill as a melodist. I’ve rarely encountered a synth album that has such memorable and moving melodic content. Each melody is well-crafted and bursting with a plethora of emotion from hope and joy to nostalgia and pain. I find myself strongly emotionally engaged by the melodies that fill this album.

I am also drawn to Robots & Computers because of The Pyramid’s facility with his synths. He’s chosen a suite of synths that help fully express the warmth, uplift and dreaming qualities of his melodies, while also adding depth and nuance to the music. I also enjoy his careful thought when it comes to creating unique sonic colours and textures.

The way that this album creates a soundscape for the imagination is also impressive to me. It is a synthetic journey across varied auditory terrain that explores the mythical, magical status that has been accorded to robots and computers in our modern world in both pop culture and the popular imagination.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Robots & Computers” comes to life with a flaring, trumpeting synth that carries a melody full of brimming emotion, tinged by a sense of promise. The track’s energy level climbs as brightness permeates every part of it. The beat’s driving throb supports the rising synths carrying the yearning, dreaming main melody.

As the track unfolds, the melody becomes more complex, full of overwhelming intensity and shine. I am attracted to the nostalgic feeling in the melody, trembling and aching for times past. The synth is textured, slightly gruff but feather-light. This track scintillates with sensation and melodic power, glittering and crooning.

Open space surrounds a steadily growing, distant synth glow along with shifting, twisting percussion to commence “Nexus 6 (from Blade Runner)” as air rushes through vast darkness and a melody mingling wistfulness and a sense of hidden potential. The gigantic drums throb evenly as open, lingering, metallic percussion adds another pulse to the beat.

The majestic, elegiac synth melody calls out with a broad, full-voiced sound. I am drawn to the way that this track feels noble and pained simultaneously. The lead synth melody rises, glowing and trembling with mixed feelings of power and loss. The whole aural space is vaulting as each sonic element echoes out. The music soars across wide vistas, full of depth and tragic power. This is a track of heroic proportions.

“Like a Robot” kicks off with flashing, quickly rushing synths jumping in a bright line over sweeping air and a ticking drum. Heavy bass oscillates and a thumping beat shifts below the circling, shimmering melody that is full of feeling and drama. I enjoy the way the melody tempers a sense of positive expectation with longing in this track. The drums and bass thunder on, adding depth and dynamic drive.

Medium-high synth imbues the melody with warmth and a flying sensation as it smoothly moves over the propulsion of beat and bass. Quick flashes of string-like synth drop through, cutting with crystal sound as the melody sings out again. I’ve rarely heard synths sound so emotional as they glimmer, carrying that melody that hurts and dreams while quick flickers of light glow and the beat keeps on pushing as the lead melody sweeps and slides.

Harsh, hissing static opens “Cylons (from Battlestar Galactica)" along with an active bass line, a rush of air and gigantic, chest-filling drums. An elevated, repeating burst of synth and sharp-edged lines of hypnotic synth slash out to form a pattern. Twisting, swirling pulses of rough sound move through and the solid drumbeat keeps the melodic pattern moving in a bright, cutting line.

Airy, wriggling sounds sweep through and the angular synth line creates a hypnotic effect. I enjoy the addictive, groove-based nature of this track. A swirling, drifting line forms a melody that has a floating and lost quality, a bleak feeling as it is carried on medium-low synth that fades into wind and distorted sound.

“Maria (from Metropolis)” begins with rumbling bass waves and a sweeping rush of sound. A medium-high, warm feeling synth carries a fragile melody tinged with tragedy and hints of happier emotions. A steady bass oscillation touches lightly while the melody is trembling and yearning as its delicate notes glide through the track. Varied percussion adds another sonic texture over the throbbing bass line. There’s an earnestness to the melody that tugs at my heart. It’s hurt, soothing and uplifting all at once while the track’s heartbeat throbs.

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The music feels rich, layers of synth all locked together as the melody drifts, speaking of dreams and wishing, of aching and hope. Now the drums smoothly guide the music below the climbing bright melody, the synths glowing and lush while they float along, skipping above the drums and the oscillating bass. This song is a journey through a mixture of emotions, eminently caressing and trembling as the dynamic synths sing their deeply expressive song.

Rapidly pulsing bass moves under raised synth notes echoing out in a tense, broken line to start “MU-TH-UR 6000 (from Alien).” Massive drums hit under sweeping synth that expands in a wobbling synth wriggle as dense, razor sharp synth carries the melody as it rises in uplifting, expectant lines over the solid thud of drums and bass. There’s an elevated, computerized sounding synth flurry as the beat throbs into life to support the flying, positive and encouraging melody as it launches forward. I am attracted to the way the whole track is suffused with light and glitter.

The music moves into a segment full of deep bass, open air and twisting, digital sounds. The secondary melodic line is distant and tinged with tragedy as it moves on a hollow, ghostly synth while a third trumpeting line interacts with it over the beat’s energy. The main melody calls out, earnest and expectant, as the bass and drums dance. The music is powerfully moving and inspiring.

“W.O.P.R.(from WarGames)” kicks off with a satisfyingly full, shining synth flowing out in a wave. The synth is rich with aspiration and caressing feelings over the beat’s gently insistent throb while round, glowing synths add accents. The drums burst in a steady, snare-drum sound below a twirling, misty, medium-high synth carrying a melody that is both tender and pained. Brightness glints from the background synths while the misty synth calls with trembling emotion.

There’s a return to the flash and wholesomeness of the smooth lead melody, brimming over with heart-warming feeling while the beat’s pulse keeps moving the music forward. I enjoy how the glowing synth sings out the inspiring melody like a soft embrace. A string-like synth plays a secondary melodic line that makes my heart ache. The secondary melody is so full of fragility and a child-like sense of openness to the world as the beat keeps pushing the song onwards, the strings singing out.

Delicately, lightly rising clouds of smooth, soft synth move over the throbbing beat’s propulsive drive, feeling ethereal and delicate as “E.N.I.A.C.” has its start. A mellow, trumpeting synth carries a melody that mingles longing, sadness and memory while the beat pushes on with a solid bass pulse backing it up. Distorted, glitchy synth accents the main melody as it lovingly touches my ears with a delicacy and feeling of tragic and yearning emotion.

Drums and bass shape and direct the music while shining clouds glow and the melody is like a lullaby that soothes my soul. The notes climb and add a more uplifting sensation as all the elements of the track glide on, full of ease and relaxation. The beat goes on below the singing, embracing melody that harks back while moving forward, still aching into silence.

“Commodore VIC-20” opens as a brassy, round synth echoes out and gentle drums lightly move while the smooth synth flows. An oscillating bass pulse joins the drums and after a computerized voice speaks, the shining synths emanate longing as they sing out in a rising pattern. The touching melody is now joined by full chip notes doubling the positive, heartwarming synth melody as it’s guided by the steady bass and drums.

I like the way that the “chorus” is deep, luscious and full of a sense of dreaming. There’s a shift to a slower segment that’s muted and trembling with sensation as it glides out, still infused with a glow. Drums pulse softly and a digital twist brings us back to the flying lead melody, reaching out with open arms to embrace the listener while it calls out into the open air around it, towards the blue sky that stretches to greet it.

With a burst of sound, a steady pulse of medium-low synth is joined by a deep drum heartbeat to commence “F.S.E. in memoriam (from Kraftwerk).” A medium-high, broad sounding synth carries a melody that moves between triumph and dreaming while the beat keeps up a living pulse. A metallic shine fills the lead synth as it tends toward something gentler. The main melody is underpinned by galactic sounds. I enjoy the blend of victorious feelings with a mixture of nostalgia and melancholy that fills the main melody.

Distant arpeggios whirl and echo out before the track moves to a melodic section that is full of uplift before the dense, metallic lead synth with its slightly distorted edge cries out and the textural arpeggios dance. The lead synth leaps out, reaching for the far away sky, glowing and full of heart while the bass flow supports it. The drums provide an organic pulse under the inspiring melody and with a high sparkle it fades out.

“Skynet (from The Terminator” opens as a gust of wind sweeps along with rapidly rushing, glittering arpeggios and a matching bass pulse. A gruff-edged, but majestic synth carries a soaring, powerful melody that speaks of dominion and strength. The drumbeat’s propulsive pulse supports the arcing energy of the main melody. It flares into a smooth segment in which a medium-high synth carries a melody that yearns for the sky while being tinged with something more worried.

I enjoy the way that the positive, grit-edged lead synth is full of victory and pride before a thinner, shining synth line twists into minor key ache. As hope returns, the soaring, rich lead synth calls out again, leaping for the stars. The track moves to a more broken bass and drum pulse below the rising shine of the lead as it launches for the stars. Shimmering, high synths brightly sing over the rushing pulse below as the track finishes.

Conclusion

"Robots & Computers" takes the potential of synths to create powerful, emotive sounds and fuses it with superb melodies to take listeners on a lush journey across inspiring and dramatic synthscapes. This is some very strong work from The Pyramid.

© 2021 Karl Magi

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