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Synth Album Review: "Starset" by Vulkari64

Author:

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

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Initial Impressions

Vulkari64’s Starset is an album of swirling synths that float out to be cut through by glowing light, shaped by powerful drums as they move through moments of melancholy and into brief breaths of hope. Vulkari64 weaves together a rich collection of synths to create an ear-pleasing, luscious sound.

One strong element on Starset to which I am drawn is the feeling of aching melancholy that permeates the whole album. Even on tracks with more energy, there’s a feeling of something pained and lost, drifting out into empty space. It lends the album a deeply emotive quality that I enjoy.

Another factor that attracts me to the album is how Vulkari64 uses guitars on it. He often produces a rippling, textured sound that adds depth while also adding acoustic guitar for a warm, woodsy feeling. I appreciate the contrast and richness that the guitars add to Starset.

The way in which Vulkari64 combines all of the synth sounds on Starset makes for an intricate and ear-pleasing musical journey. He juxtaposes powerful bass with softly glowing synth warmth, contrasting and combining a wide range of synth tones and timbres. The end result is full of complexity and depth.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Throwaway” begins with a dense, active bass oscillation that throbs underneath a steady, computerized sounding synth flow as the guitar shifts in an intertwining melody, strumming into the music. A swirling synth with a crackle to it moves along with the guitar as the throbbing beat drives the music on. I enjoy the shimmering, round synth that dances out an uplifting melody, full of warmth and hope underneath the smooth vocals that ache and tremble with loss.

The glitchy, metallic fullness of the lead synth cries out into the breathy vocals along with a wandering piano that drifts in soft notes. An acoustic guitar adds warmth and shimmering, delicate piano keeps flowing along in an unfolding line while the beat throbs. Sweeps of glowing synth are joined by the woodsy voice of the acoustic guitar as the music fades out.

Distant, shining synth spins in a flowing arpeggio and is joined by an elevated, nasal synth radiating melancholy to open “IBM Model M.” A slowly shifting line of brightness is complemented by a rippling strum of electric guitar and a deep bass pulse. The lost elevated synth flows while the waves of rippling guitar are joined by the movement of a full drum beat while a sparkling rush of notes flickers and shines out over the sweeping air of the background.

A glimmering arpeggio circles and the beat throbs onward. I am drawn to the way that the trembling, dynamic guitar adds texture to the music. A softly touching, melancholic metallic synth sings out in a melody that intricately unwinds over the beat and depth of bass below it. There’s a break into trickling, starry synth and oscillating bass that comes in drifts as the arpeggios circle and fade.

“Vigilante” begins with a quiet swell of sound that crescendos into fullness along with hollow percussion that adds a unique character to the music. The drums hit solidly and the caressing, shining lead synth floats with a sense of ease over a dense, smooth arpeggio that spins through a sweep of static. I enjoy the way in which the bell-like lead synth melody trembles, full of aching emotion.

The track breaks into a cutting, medium-high synth line of that pulses over the beat along with some stuttering distortion. The music returns to the gentleness of the lead melody, feeling pained and full of expression as it sails along over the smoothly evolving beat. There’s a whispering sweep of static, leading back into hollow percussion sounds and finally into quiet.

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A deep bass heartbeat moves under a round, medium-high synth that carries a quickly evolving note pattern over the growing airy sounds that sweep in to kick off “LyteCykl.” The rough-edged pulse is now joined by bursting, big drums and a repeating line of elevated, chiming synth that shines and dances while the solid drums propel the track. I am enamoured of the glittering, elevated synth singing out in a crystalline line over the intertwining guitar.

A lush sonic texture is added by the guitar as it moves over the slightly gruff synth line that unfolds into the music. There’s rising waves of guitar and a jagged line of synth that slices in, gritty in contrast to the smoothness around it. Gentle waves of strumming guitar float in again with a high wash of easy-going sound. A steady throb of drums moves underneath the evolving medium-high synth that spins as higher flashes of sound move in and through before fading away on bells.

“Holding You” comes into being with a warm, rippling synth distortion that forms a textured background to the sharp, bright, medium-high synth that flows in a cutting line. Deep bass wells up as the massive drums throb in a powerful beat that drives the track forward. I enjoy the mixture of sparkling chimes and twisting synth as they form a glittering pulse. Wider, deeper synth with a gritty edge moves in before breaking into a half-time drumbeat.

Elevated synths gently distort and oscillate in waves over the slower beat. The rapid bass oscillation comes in again while glimmering chimes shine like stars over the propulsive drums and bass. Electric guitar cries out in a shining melodic pattern as glowing synths spin in a rapid arpeggio over the ethereal, airy soundscape. The main melody slides in gently, accentuated by bursts of round, bright synth accentuate it. The drumbeat throbs on while high synths flicker in a gliding line before fading out.

Sustained, full, digital-sounding synth moves in slow, pensive notes through the open space around it to start off “Outemu Sky.” I like the way the notes tremble into the openness of the music before the guitar dances in, vibrating in gentle notes that flash out. The strongly pulsing beat moves in over the rippling synth and through the guitar’s vibrating motion.

A delicate melodic line is carried on a smooth, brassy synth that transitions to a glittering sound that slips along while the guitar rings out in an echoing textured pattern over the propulsion of the drums. The trumpeting synth carries a delicate, hopeful melody and again there’s digital glitch before silence falls.

“Kanto League Champion” swirls into life with smoothly circling arpeggios sliding out in a caressing flow. I am pulled in by the triumphant uplift of the melody, carried on a crystalline synth that bounces over top of the energetic beat. An enfolding guitar melody sings out, mellow but positive while shining synth glitters in an exuberant line.

There’s a brief lull before the music launches back into the driving beat.A sunny line of elevated synth breaks into the track while an expansive, shiny guitar calls out over shimmering brightness. There’s a return to the easy going but victorious-sounding lead melody. The track flow out on the wind and a dancing line of string-like synth falls back into silence and tripping digital sound.

Deep, smooth wells of full and softly surrounding synth caress the ears as “Gigantopithecus” begins. The aching vocals come in with a gentle touch, speaking of loss and ache. Bright synth lines rise up to glow gently through the wells of deep sound around them, lapping against the ears. I am especially touched by the pained feeling that is exuded by the vocals here. A string-like arpeggio dances over thick bass pulsing below it, moving in rising and falling lines.

The big drums add a heartbeat pulse while a sharper-edged line of medium-high synth also shifts. The rising, flashing lead synth sings out an uplifting and bursting melodic line while the deep bass and drum pulse lifts the track. As the vocals cry out again, the shining arpeggio keeps whirling and the steady beat drives onward. The melody flashes out, the brightness cutting through under the waves of the echoing vocals. The track flows into distorted, piano-like notes that bend into the rising warmth of the synths before fading down again into nothingness.

Conclusion

Vulkari64 creates a nuanced, melancholy and intricate soundscape on Starset that is evocative and moving. I am drawn to his lush sound and attention to detail on the album that makes me eager to hear more from him.

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