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Synth Album Review: "They Live To Feed" by Jetfire Prime

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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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Jetfire Prime’s They Live To Feed is set up as a horror movie soundtrack. It has been composed with cues and longer musical moments just like a real soundtrack and it manages to produce a tense, dark and sometimes quite delicate and beautiful atmosphere and unfolds the tale of a town stalked by primal evil and the group of “nerdy outcasts” who fight it.

The main criteria for making a soundtrack work is atmosphere. Any soundtrack worth its salt has to produce and maintain the right mood and feeling. They Live To Feed amply satisfies that remit by filling the tracks with shadows, tension and ominous feelings. However, it also ensures that the moments of sadness and triumph are also reflected along with bright, light elements that (for me) symbolize the innocence of the main characters.

The use of synths on They Live To Feed allows the classic ‘80s horror feeling free rein. There’s a feeling of soundtracks by John Carpenter and other composers of the era in the way the synths move in the music, how they emphasize certain parts of the tracks and the way they interact to create tension and mood. From the rough and harsh to the shimmering and glowing, they cover all the bases and keep adding to the overall sensation produced in the whole album.

The short tracks that are like cues in a film soundtrack add a nice touch to the feeling of the album. They do a good job of setting the scenes and continuing to establish the storyline in the album. Despite their short lengths, they manage to keep the ears engaged and continue to move the album along well.

Jetfire Prime has a good ear for melody and he creates some lovely ones on They Live To Feed. There’s a sense of both threat and melancholy in some and others have a feeling of uplift and triumph when the kids succeed against their evil foe. They all do a nice job of shoring up the storytelling aspect of the album.

My Favourite Main Themes Analyzed

“They Live To Feed Main Title” swells to life with dark synthesizer sounds echoing out into the shadows and rising through them along with the sound of sweeping wind. A slow, mid-tone synth plays a circling arpeggio that spins into that wide open space, joined by growing swells of bright sound underneath it that wash over the ears in waves. I am touched by the undeniable melancholy in the music. The lead synth melody is delicate and has a brittle shine to it, but the whole theme exudes shadow and sadness.

Jetfire Prime makes good use of stereo on “Something’s Watching, First Kill” as sounds move across the channels while dark shadows and wind open the track. The lead synth has a computerized quality to it as those bouncing percussive sounds move between the channels and rather rough-edged elements move underneath.

The contrast between the bright and tight chimes with the dark, rough edged pulse underneath is a part of the track I enjoy. A rapidly oscillating bass line wriggles through the music as bright pulses of nervous sound cut into it. The darkness grows as the music crescendoes.

“Followed Home, Third Kill” begins with a unique sonar-like ping as a thick wedge of synthesized sound flows out along with the steady high pulse. Dark chords with a feeling of impending doom about them move in with a steady pulse of bass.

The tense notes begin to form a pattern that effectively conveys danger before high, ghostly notes drift through on chiming synth behind the wash of minor notes. The bass has a pulse that gives a relentless feeling to the music.

There’s a warmly glowing melody that opens "It’s Dead, We Won” that bursts with a sense of freedom and escape, filling the track's open spaces with a sensation of accomplishment but one leavened by sadness for the loss of a friend.

The track brims with hope from the strong main melody and synth chords climb underneath to add more power to the music, further increasing the sense of uplift that it has created. I was drawn to the emotional content of the composition on this track.

“Credits Where Credit’s Due” kicks into life with a slamming synthwave beat and chimes that shimmer out over a minor key arpeggio that spins rapidly over the driving drums. There is a energetic lead melody with a touch of that minor key darkness before the even drum heartbeat settles in while a quickly shifting series of tense arpeggios that ramp up the horror vibes. The way all of the musical elements interlock on this track is a big selling point for me.

My Favourite Cue Tracks Analyzed

"Look at Those Kids, They’ve Not A…” is full of warm, flowing and gently caressing synth playing spinning arpeggios that shine out delicately into the music. The melody is shiny and uplifting as it soars above the arpeggios. I like how this track is a contrast to the growing darkness, full of air and pastel clouds of sound.

A high lonely arpeggio spins into the open air of “The Whole Town’s Scared, We Should Do Something. We’re Kids What Can We Do?” as a nervous, echoing synth flashes into being over the slowly circling arpeggio. There is a feeling of loss and emptiness that infuses the delicate melody as medium-high synths call out into the open space. I find this quite an emotive track.

“She’s Beautiful! Yeah and You’ve Fallen in Love at the Worst Time” starts off with bright, active synth sounds that rise upwards through the open space of the track. The lead is taken by a synth with some xylophone-like character. It moves in gentle notes over the warm and flowing background, delicate and roaming as bright flashes of dense sound shift underneath.

Melancholy shimmering notes that have a feeling of creeping threat start out “I Don’t Wanna Die. Hang on, Help’s Coming!” They become a slowly revolving arpeggio and create a shifting soundscape behind a melody full of a sense of growing hope and safety. There’s an enfolding feeling that’s touched with sadness filling the track.

“I’ll Go Alone. No, We’re in This Together for Tommy” comes to life with a dense, slightly rough edged synth that plays a repeating pattern with some forward momentum to it. Higher synths intertwine and move as a shifting arpeggio spins out slowly over chiming sounds. The arpeggio expands and flows as it circles through a repeating background of moving synth sound.

Dark tension fills “The Final Fight” as a pulse of notes and a burst of percussion flow into the open spaces of the track. The music grows in volume and intensity with a throbbing drum echoing while a pattern of nervous, tense notes in a minor key also rise and then fade out. The lead melody has a twisting, sinuous quality to it and everything brims with a feeling of danger. This cue was effective for creating mood.

Conclusions

They Live To Feed is a strong evocation of ‘80s adventure/horror movies that uses sound to lay out a story. Jetfire Prime has a history of taking unique and creative approaches to modern synth-based music and this album continues that trend in an entertaining way.

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