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Synth Album Review: "The First Voyage" by RAN

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

"The First Voyage"

"The First Voyage"

Initial Impressions

RAN’s The First Voyage is an album of deep cosmic power, melodic energy and the sensibility of a space opera from the golden age of early science fiction. It generates strong images out of the interlinked musical elements that are woven to produce a rich auditory exploration.

The strong musical abilities of RAN are the first major reason why I feel this album works. He has an ear for weaving melodies that are full of expression and mixed emotion. He adds to his melodic chops with intricate guitar solos that fly out through the music. He also has a strong ability to choose a palette of synth sounds that work well together to create dense and complex soundscapes.

Atmosphere is another reason why The First Voyage works for me. RAN creates a mixture of sonic images from bright triumph to vast voids of cosmic darkness and from melancholy ache to threatening surge. He easily interweaves all of these varied and mixed sensations both within and between tracks to end up with a cohesive and complex whole.

I enjoy how RAN unfolds his tale from track to track, as if he’s framing shots for a film. Each track is like a well-composed scene in a movie that captures the imagination as it reveals itself. The end result is a piece of musical storytelling that I find engaging.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Escape From The Motherland” opens with a dark, tension filled, medium-high synth pulsation that slowly shifts as deep bass descends below the threatening sound above it. All of the sonic elements move into open space while a wriggling, elevated synth slices through the pulsating weigh of bass and hard-hitting drums. I am drawn to the cold brightness of the synth that shimmers in a drifting line, full of worried energy, as the hard-hitting beat keeps pushing on.

The drums add more shape to the music while the glittering synth spins out a diamond-hard melodic pattern. The track returns to gritty bass pulse and massive drums before briefly breaking into an ethereal, choral-sounding drift. The tense melodic pattern goes on before the beat launches once more with a ghostly sonic twist to accompany it. RAN’s guitar leaps in with a howling, intricately unfolding solo over the slamming beat before the track ends.

A powerful, dark bass oscillation moves below elevated, sharply shiny synths that cut in over the deep oscillation below them to start “Interstellar Highway Redux.” Brighter chimes come in over massive, shifting synths and the steady beat pulses on while the gigantic slabs of synth glow out over it. I enjoy the triumphant melody that sings out, hopeful and full of light, soaring out over the big drums. Shiny arpeggios with a sharp edge spin and the relentless beat’s pulse goes on.

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Crystalline synths flicker and jump over the relentless beat and the guitar files out in a dynamic solo that whirls and intricately intertwines over the power below it. The whole track has a propulsive drive to it as all of the elements surge with massive energy. Intense, thick, medium- high synth arpeggiations go on and before closing with shadowy pulsing and twisting synth.

"Cruising The Void” begins with a heaving, weighty bass pulse and massive drums around which nasal, cosmic synths sweep and swirl. The heavy, shadowy bass moves and an ethereal synth echoes out in a distant and airy melody, I am enamoured of the contrast between the delicate, shimmering synth and the power of the dense bass and gigantic drums. Misty synth flickers while the bass carries on flowing.

The music returns to the starlit, floating lead melody while the surging depths continue moving in a driving heartbeat. There’s a drum fill and a repeating, whirling synth is joined by a bubbling sonic flow over the steadily bursting beat. RAN’s guitar cuts in with a clear voice, crying out in a flying line of intense, intricate notes that are full of arcing passion. The track ends on ghostly, nasal synth over that massive drum and bass tide.

“Reaching For Eridanus” starts with a slowly revolving, lost feeling synth line that rises in a swirling wave as a buzzing synth crescendoes. An urgent, deep bass wave and gigantic drums throb below sparkling chimes. The warm, dense guitar cries out in lush lines while the heaving beat pops and throbs. I enjoy the dreamy, hopeful lead melody that shines on raised, crystal sharp synth over the thundering weight and grit below it.

A tide of flashing synth moves with the heaving bass before the dreamy lead synth melody shines like cut glass again. RAN’s fingers dance intricately on the strings as he plays a passionate solo that rises above the other musical elements. The chiming lead returns over the maelstrom of darkness below it. As the song ends the guitar howls again and fades.

A tense, minor key synth drifts on a glittering tide as distant notes climb to kick off “From Ranrise to Ranset.” A warm, but shadowed synth trumpets out over a Stygian bass pulse that moves slowly with the heavy drums. I am enamoured of the haunted quality of the chiming synth as it repeats a minor key line while an equally diaphanous pattern of medium low synth repeats a worried-feeling note pattern.

An oscillating energetic melody cries out as it descends over the flourishing drums and the guitar’s growl adds depth. Very high sound flickers and twists as doubled guitar and synth cry out the minor key melody. The guitar solo howls out, full of expression, leaping in to add more emotion. The song surges with dynamism but something darker lurks in the background.

Conclusion

RAN’s album The First Voyage is a layered, textured journey across the wilds of space. It takes listeners on an adventure through synth sounds, guitar power and deep atmosphere. I am always interested to see where RAN will go next with his music.

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