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Synth Album Review: "Step Into Something New" by Aquamaster

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

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Initial Impressions

Aquamaster’s Step Into Something New is classic synthwave in some ways with massive drums, shredding guitar work and melodic, shiny synths that cascade and fly. That’s not the whole story though as elements as diverse as reggae and spaghetti Western soundtracks add their own unique touches to the album.

The level of detail and integration of the wide variety of synth parts is one of the stronger aspects of Step Into Something New. There’s an interweaving of layers that creates a strong sonic imagery in each track. The balance of different tones, timbres and feelings allows Aquamaster to paint auditory pictures throughout the music.

There’s an unmistakable aggression and power to the guitar work on the album that comes from Aquamaster’s metal influences. There are passages of flying, shredding guitar and growling attacks on the ears that add an enjoyable level of bite to the music. On the other hand, he also knows when to relax and add a smoothness to the tracks as well.

I also enjoy the unique touches that Aquamaster adds to Step Into Something New. There’s a strong reggae groove to “Welcome to the Blast Zone” that gives it a fun feeling and the spaghetti Western sound and sensation on “Cyborg Cowboy” adds more listening pleasure to the track.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Human Stain” comes into being with a steady pulse of sharp-edged synth and sparkling chimes full of glowing light. Shifting lines of medium high synth are joined by a growling guitar attack over the throb of the bass weight underneath it.

The track has an airy, open background as the guitar growls into it along with lyrics that are almost chanted. I enjoy the slashing guitar lines that cut in while the distorted electric bass adds another unique voice with a rich tone to the music.

There is darkness and loss in the lyrics of this song. The narrator tells us that “everyone is gone, it's breaking my heart.” He asks if there was a chance for a new start “would you still pretend?”

The narrator broods and comments that “When you break it down, the people I know gonna tell you just the same.” He concludes that the people he knows and “the places I go leave a human stain.”

Shining synths with bell-like and chiming sounds twinkle and dance over sampled sounds and voices to kick off “Silver Shamrock” before a rapid, aggressive throb of synth bass with jagged edges is joined by an echoing, crying guitar.

A quickly shifting flowing line of elevated synth comes in along with the guitar to wander over the bass. I am drawn to the leaping, glowing melody with some uplift and some darkness to it. Cascading medium-high, thickly stacked synths are also joined by the reverberating and echoing guitar in this track.

“Campground Killers” leaps into life with a rapidly slamming beat and a hard, oscillating pulse of synth with big drums and interesting percussion sounds moving through the track. There’s a satisfying layering as a twisting, minor key synth line wriggles over the top of the hard-hitting, deep beat under it.

Another moving line of lower, deeper sound comes in and the beat and bass are unrelenting as they propel the track onward. An elevated, nervous line of sparkling synth arcs upward in over the power and drive below it, The guitar also calls out with an energetic howl through the mixed layers of interlocking sound around it.

Quickly pulsing synths with a high tech feeling move in uneven groupings of notes as a hollow, open synth throbs to start off “Cyborg Cowboy” as a rising, airy synth glows above it all. The uneven feeling of the track coalesces into a more even beat as the lead synth whirls in a hypnotic pattern.

A brassy, triumphant sounding synth cals out a soaring and dramatic melody which creates a heroic feeling that I enjoy. The whole track has a feeling of adventure with its galloping synth pulse and driving percussion.

A flowing, drifting segment comes in before Aquamaster’s guitar adds thundering power along with rising, majestic and wordless vocals reminiscent of Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti Western scores.

All of the musical elements soar upwards now while a tin whistle adds a little Celtic inflection to the track. Arpeggios swirl and dance along with the computerized sounding synths as the triumphant guitar cries out over the complex parts swirling and flowing underneath it.

“Welcome to the Blast Zone” opens with a solid, shifting pulse of synth moving under bright bells. I absolutely dig the addictive reggae groove of this track as the guitar shines over the top of it and a full, trumpeting synth carries a shimmering melodic line.

The guitar falls in shredding patterns over the reggae beat along with a fluting melodic line. Deep electric bass moves in before a roaming, flowing line of glittering medium-high synth dances over the dubwise groove and bursts of more metallic synth wriggle into the track before it fades out.


A sharp-edged sonic pulsation is joined by rising and reverent synths to begin “Beach Goth” as a computerized, glowing synth dances over the massive drums. I especially like the playful, cascading lead synth melody that sings out over the reverberating beat.

The track breaks into a single, hollow pulse of synth before drifting sounds shift over the thick, solid beat. The glowing, computerized lead synth spins and twirls through the music, shimmering and full of light and energy.

“Sunset Traffic” starts out with bursts of static and repeating piano notes that form a pattern under the howling flow of the lead guitar. I am enamoured of the swirling feeling of the guitar tone while the piano adds a certain uneven motion to the proceedings.

The drums throb smoothly to add a steady element under the starry synths. The track has a stuttering quality as the guitar twists and yearns above the drums. I felt a lost and roving quality throughout the track.

Conclusion

The mixture of diverse, well-integrated synths with Aquamaster’s ability to create images through sound and his individualistic approach to making retro-influenced synth music creates a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience for me on Step Into Something New.

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