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Synth Album Review: "The Year Was Still 2120" by Peacecraft (and guests)

Author:

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

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Initial Impressions

Peacecraft’s remix album The Year Was Still 2120 is full of unique takes on the original tunes by some of the most talented people out there in the #synthfam. It takes the layered, rich sonic tapestry of the original album and expands it in new and interesting directions by allowing the remixers and arrangers the chance to put their fresh interpretations on Peacecraft’s already solid music.

The challenge for remixers is always in finding ways to reinterpret the music without straying too far from the original vision and feeling of the music they’re remixing. I feel that everyone who is featured on The Year Was Still 2120 has managed to find that balance. Even when they stray away from the original tracks by some margin, they retain the integrity of Peacecraft’s ideas while adding textures and feelings that give those tunes new life.

I also quite like the diversity of musical styles on The Year Was Still 2120. We have everything from glitch hop to trance to simple stripped back piano with spoken word vocals. The tracks don’t feel scattered or incoherent, but rather keep my ears perking up as each new style and take on the tracks is revealed.

Re-contextualizing music sometimes has interesting results. For me, what emerges when listening to this album is the strength of Peacecraft’s melodic writing and the clarity of his musical ideas. The remixers were clearly able to put their own spin on the music but the original album was strong enough that its ideas still shine through, despite the arrangement and remixing.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Chase The Darkness (LV-426 Nocturnal Mix)” begins with the original track’s vocal sample in the foreground along with piano chords that add more depth and power compared to the original, The beat on this remix pounds into life while the synth sounds bounce and cascade. There’s a weightier feeling to this remix in comparison to the original. The lead synth keeps climbing as the energy levels grow, the drums hitting hard.

The beat accelerates again as those strong piano chords move in and there’s a rushing breath of background sound. The synth pattern and the slamming beat interlock together in a way I enjoy. Now the beat subdivides as it pulses through the music. LV-426’s remix emphasizes the power and rising tension in the original as well as the relentless nature of the beat, while adding a darker quality than the original track.

The same vocal sample and delicate melody as the original kick off “The Future Is A Void (Jacket remix). “ The drum sounds that Jacket uses add a smoothness and a distinctive heartbeat to the music. The warm, dense synth has a richness to it as that distinctive percussion heartbeat moves along with the steady pulses of sound that run through the track.

In the remix, the choice of allowing the caressing sound of the lead synth fill the music as the vocal sample runs underneath it adds a nice feeling to the track. There’s an ethereal hollow synth sound that moves in and now the brightness of guitar wandering into the music adds a slight edge. Jacket’s interpretation is a smoother, slower and more gentle take on the original, emphasizing its warmth and brightness.

“Radiation Summer (Severum remix)” opens on guitar that gently moves through the music, slightly distorting and oscillating as a sweep of wind carries it along. The guitar grows more intense as that ominous vocal sample hits along with the throb of a driving trance beat and deep rumbling bass. There’s a floating, powerful synth line flying over that extremely deep bass and pounding beat. Severum allows the darkness of the original track to touch this remix with the slight tension in the high synth notes adding to the nervous feeling that brushes the edges of the music.

Everything has an open quality to it and the choral synths add an ancient feeling to the music that I enjoy. A patterned guitar line is joined by the battering of percussion, adding a stronger drum pulse than in the original track. There’s a reverence in those choral sounds and a real energy in the drums that add a unique flavour to the track.

Chippy pulses of sound shiver through an airy, floating background as “Never Let Go (Luxx Cauldran remix)” starts out. A rapid arpeggio whirls into the music, gaining energy and power as the beat launches hard into the music. The unique synth plays oscillating patterns of notes over that persistent trance beat, bouncing along in time to it as the drums add additional pulsation to the music.

The track breaks into whirling arpeggios and bursts of shiny synth before beat pounds in hard again, ramping up and exploding forward, while the rapid oscillations dance through the music, the uneven pulses become the singing melody again as It cries out through the music. Luxx Cauldran’s remix showcases the rising, uplifting synth melody that soars out over the beat and adds a dance-y quality to the music that enhances it.

“Life Begins Again (Outro remix)” comes to life with the sound of rain and soft synth notes flowing into the music. This warm feeling resembles the opening to the original track as the sound of a clock being wound and ticking is joined by a delicate, vaguely distorted piano. The piano plays gentle, breathy notes over that steady tick of passing time and the organic sounds of the thunderstorm. The choice to add the sound of a string ensemble adds a soothing, melancholy feeling to the music that I find lovely.

The brushing feeling of the chiming synth in the original continues as moves through again with the string-like notes shifting underneath. We reach a crescendo as that classic melody plays on the shimmering, but slightly jangly chimes. There is warmth but also a cutting sound that vibrates through the track, adding a little more bite than the original track.

Bright ethereal drifts of piano and open space touched by static start off “Welcome To The Future (Unplugged with Mayah Camara.” The spoken word part of the song is delivered with clarity, Her voice’s timbre and her British accent add strength and richness to the monologue. On top of this, the piano adds a warmth and unique feeling that strips away the synth elements. The piano yearns but is full of power behind the strong spoken word part of the track.

I enjoy hearing the chords and the melody in this stripped down format, showing off the beauty of the writing. This unplugged version allows the expressive piano playing to shine through as its rich textures move behind Mayah Camara’s well-done spoken word performance. This is a case where stripping elements back creates a beautiful end result.

Verdict

If you enjoyed the original album, The Year Was 2120 won’t disappoint you. There’s a lot of interesting, fun and fresh takes on the material from the original but the basic integrity and quality hasn’t been lost. All of the remixers have, in my view, done credit to both themselves and Peacecraft with this album.

  • The Year was still 2120 | Peacecraft
    The Year was still 2120 by Peacecraft, releases 03 December 2020 1. Welcome to the Future (Matt Hodges Remix) 2. Chase the Darkness (LV-426 Nocturnal Mix) 3. The Future is a Void (jacket. Remix) 4. Darker Times (Feat. Ghosthost) (Glitch Hop Remix) 5.