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Synth Album Review: "Summers in Anniston" by Splash '96

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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

Splash ’96’s Summers in Anniston is a breezy glide through a nostalgic summer. It is full of drifting magenta clouds, jazzy riffs and a sensation of enfolding warmth that carries the listener away on sun-drenched daydreams. I can’t imagine a better album for lazing on a long, languorous day without any cares to trouble me.

One aspect of the album to which I am strongly drawn is Splash ‘96's incorporation of funky, jazzy elements into the music. There are moments where smooth jazz riffs hit the tunes and funky beats and bass lines move under the other musical elements. I enjoy some of the cool chords and lines that have an undeniable feeling to them. I also like his ability to just sit in the pocket and groove along.

Splash ‘96's choice of synths helps a great deal in establishing the easy, gliding atmosphere of the album and provides a hazy, warmth-filled sonic palette that suits the summery sensations that pour like caressing sunlight from the music. There are glittering, elevated synths and pan pipes that are round and rich, along with softly glowing sounds that sail and flow like blue water to carry me away on soft-focus dreams.

I enjoy the way that this album harks back to the cooler, more relaxed aspects of retro nostalgia. It moves away from the synthwave sound and explores a completely different side to the music of the ‘80s and early ‘90s. There are nods to jazz fusion, electro-funk and smooth jazz that only add to the overall summery vibe that oozes from the tracks and into the soul. I enjoy it when “retrowave” doesn’t always mean what people expect it to mean.

Track-by-Track Analysis

“CD City” comes into being with round xylophone-like synth drifting out in reverberating waves and the steady beat of a kick drum. A glimmering, repeating line of chiming synth joins the full drums as bright, shifting keyboard notes dance crisply through the track. I am drawn to the softly singing melody carried on a nasal, medium high synth that has the feeling of a tender embrace.

The melody weaves through the track as a tinkling synth plays a repeating pulse and a the high, winding line of melodic synth dances over the beat. There’s a hopeful, dreamy lead synth solo that comes in before returning to the “A” section melody. The elevated, glistening synth line is joined by a bouncy synth before the track fades out.

Bells with a slightly jangling quality start off “Our Camcorder” moving in waves as the smooth drum heartbeat pulsates and a shimmering synth carries an easily sailing melody. There’s a jazz-inflected moment of elevated synth before full sounding, bell-like synths carry a swirl of sound that swells into the track, going in volume. I enjoy the sensations of warm breezes and easy summer relaxation emanating from the medium-low synth.

A quick, funky line of organ cuts in before the open air feeling of pan pipe synths adds a hollow, airy quality as they float. Metallic sounds move in along with a high, shimmering line of smoothly sliding synth that calls out over the top of the drum beat and the full synth sings and intertwines with the open voices of the pan pipes.

“The Video Store” kicks off with resonant notes played on a jazzy organ before a circular synth with a slight distortion carries a melody that drifts along with consummate ease. The drums have a sexy throb to them as the medium-high line of synth slips through and now a sax-like synth plays a reedy pattern.

I am enamoured of the snaky, groovy beat on the track as well as the silken slide of all the sonic elements. The keyboard that plays a hypnotic pattern as the drums move the track on. A lulling, high synth line is joined by a flow of piano notes that add more layers to the music. This track has a touch of smooth jazz about it that I also like.

The sound of splashing water and a hollow, smooth drumbeat opens “Pool Water” along with a solid, moving bass line and a medium high, distorted synth pulsating steadily behind the groovy bass line that bounces through the track. A light, smooth pan pipe synth carries a gliding and relaxed melodic line as shiny glockenspiel notes sing out into the track over the throbbing beat and deep bass that add motion to the music.

I am drawn to the chimes that have a delicate, hazy shine to them as they carry a floating melody that moves across the track’s blue water feeling. The drum and bass groove is slow but strong as the pan pipes sing and an airy synth carries more of the touching, sunny melody. The bass changes and slows before upping the tempo before a whistle like synth plays piping notes that oscillate over the moving, deep bass line that comes back in again.

“Waterbed Nap” comes to life with distorted keys that shimmer and carry reverberating notes as a whisper of soft, smooth drums shivers lightly into the track with an airy brush of sound. Now a soothing, slipping melody is carried on a medium high synth that breezes into the music, caressing the ears as it lightly touches the music.

There are moments in which a raised, string-like synth that cries before there’s a return to the ease and glitter of the medium high synth line over the wash and whisper of the drums. A round-toned jazz organ descends and that easy gong high line of synth sings out through the track. There is such a relaxed and calming feel to the music as it evokes the luscious feeling of lounging around on a waterbed on a lazy summer day.

Low, smooth jazz organ moves below high chimes that sparkle and frolic over the funky slap bass line to open “Local Radar.” The chimes carry a flowing and relaxing melody that dances up above the smooth drums and grooving bass.

An airy, wavering medium-high synth with a delicate quality moves in the background while the chimes keep shimmering away. This track has a lovely misty quality and a feeling of intense ease as the guitar sings out a jazzy melody that briefly cascades through the track. The lead melody is taken up by the warm, rich tones of the guitar as it moves with a sliding ease over the bass line.

“Splurgin’ At The Mall” brings the funk! The drums and bass interlock and sit in the pocket as some super fun orchestra hits come in to add more energy to the proceedings. There’s a lot of dynamism in the bass before the medium-high, slightly rougher-edged synth carries a propulsive melody.

The percussion adds extra elements which only serve to further lift the energy level of this track. Quick flashes of different sounds add a little sonic spice as the uplifting melody keeps calling out. A very tasty guitar line comes in as the percussion throbs on and elevated synth sounds sparkle over the other elements. A hip shaking energy suffuses the track as all of the different elements come together along with super cool guitar work.

A resonant synth carries a repeating, angular pattern of notes as a xylophone’s lambent voice also shines to kick off “Quintard Cruising” as the dance floor friendly beat comes in. Floating, breathy synth chords start a melodic series of notes that move to the beat.

A pan pipe synth carries another hypnotic pattern. The track has me dancing in my chair as I write which is a good sign. Oscillating xylophone notes come in and the same hypnotic pattern repeats. This is a track all about making the booty shake.

“Late Night Drive Through” starts with a slinky, sexy drum beat and a shiny guitar playing a a chilled out, slowly unfolding melodic line. A drifting, lush synth plays a swirling glide of melody and “wah wah” guitar adds another layer to the music. The smoothly caressing jazz organ carries a delicate, feather-light melody that glides over the smooth beats and bass

Flashes of raised, nasal synth cut in along with a gnarly, sensual and groovy bass that I find addictive. Dancing, wild bursts of notes come in again the track has a glide to it and now a delicious bass line chugs into the track with swirls of higher sound around it. Through the whole track, the groove cannot be denied.

Distorted, wavering organ, slowly wobbling bass and smooth pulsing drums bring “Please Adjust Your Tracking” to life. A wild laugh and wriggly, shaking sounds move in along with raised chimes and distorted voices as the bass wobble is now joined by a voice saying, “please adjust your tracking.” A glowing synth line mooches through the track as the entertaining vocal samples come in and out.

The melody has a jazzy glide to it and the vocal samples add a quirky feeling to the track. Bells chime into the track in a rising, falling pattern that adds more light and some bea t boxing comes in along with synth brass hits and some scratching over the wavy bass.

Conclusion

Splash ’96s album Summers in Anniston is ideal listening material for a lazy summer day by the pool. It is easily flowing, soothing and calming music that still has character and energy to spare. I hope that Splash ’96 keeps making groovy, chilled-out, ear-grabbing music that takes a unique path.

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