Synth Album Review: "Time Navigators" by Cosmo Cocktail
Luca Brumat, also known as Cosmo Cocktail, makes no bones about the fact that his Time Navigators album is classic synthwave of the sort that was initially created in the mid-2000s by the innovators of the genre.
"Time Navigators" Album Review
Although synth-based music has expanded, varied and taken on a myriad of new forms, I feel there’s still space for well produced synthwave of the classic variety. Time Navigators captures all the best elements of the first synth-wave (if you’ll pardon the terrible pun) and delivers with well-crafted melodies, the undeniable propulsion of synthwave drum and bass sounds and the many interlaced synth lines that form patterns throughout the album.
I was immediately grabbed by Cosmo Cocktail’s melodic writing chops. He has created melodies that glow and shine, but are often tinged with a little melancholy. I am someone who enjoys that hint of something sadder, even in the midst of hope because life is so often like that. When he wants to do uplift, he’s more than capable. I just appreciate the nostalgic ache for things past that can’t come again which fills Time Navigators.
Classic synthwave had that marriage of thundering drums and sparkling, flickering synth sounds which added both energy and lightness to the music and Time Navigators uses that balance well to anchor the music while letting it lift and fly at the same time. It balances the backing music that showcases the melodic content of the album well.
Another element of the album that I enjoyed is the feeling of spaciousness created by the production. Everything is surrounded by a feeling of wide openness that allows the various musical building blocks to move through and adds an easy flow to the music. It isn’t overdone, but helps the music feel spacious.
I also enjoyed the subtle use of electric guitar on “Downtown Years.” I like a shredding guitar solo in the right context but it wouldn’t fit here. Instead there is a tragic, gentle feeling to the guitar that adds a certain mournful nostalgia to the music and suited that feeling nicely.
Track by Track Breakdown
“Downtown Years” has an airy, open feeling to it as gently shining synth notes and a wandering, rather tragic and gentle sounding guitar seems to call out across an empty distance. The feeling that it imparted was one that touched me. I also enjoyed the lost, meandering nature of the main melody that was also tinged with sadness. All in all a track that painted strong imagery in my mind.
I was compelled by the lead synth melody that is full of hope, love and warmth on "Lipstick Kiss." The classically solid synthwave beat was a nice anchor to the warm feelings over top and I was enamoured of the slightly tragic secondary melody on the track along with how much energy was added by the beat as it moved the track forward.
“Time Navigators” is full of bright flying synth notes that cascade over long flows of bass and that unmistakable drum sound. I was intrigued by the minor, slightly shadowed synth chords that contrast with the brightness around them. I was indeed given the feeling of moving through space and time by this track. All of the music felt quite sweeping in nature as it flowed along.
High quality melodies seem to be a staple on this album and the glowing, rising synth melody that conveys gentleness and hope is no exception on “Night Breeze.” I was interested in the way that the whirling piano notes climbed and matched the drum part. Once again, the touch of melancholy in the track only enhanced the gentle feeling of the melody. I thought that the use of ambient sounds was a pleasant enhancement to this track as waves washed over the sound of seagulls.
“Summer Off My Mind, A Year After” was bursting with nostalgic yearning. The melody glowed as it dreamed of a past summer, now fading into memory. The waves of deep, steady bass gave a soothing feeling to the music as bright synth lines shimmered through it. Again the track has an airy feeling that adds to the impressions of a dreamy remembrance conveyed in the melodic elements of the track.
The rough, glitchy synth that opens “Push the Pedal Dangerously” helps contribute to the hard-charging nature of the track. There is a sensation of flying dangerously down the highway as the rapid drums throb through the music. The main melody is both dark and powerful as it rockets through the track. I could imagine the power of a sleek sports car as this track growls and throbs along, energetically driving toward a conclusion.
“September Sunset” has an easy pulse to it as chimes flicker over the deep flows of bass and a triumphant synth line. As the beat divides, I enjoyed how the long flows of warm sound spread out over it. A gentle feeling of something aching moves into the song as a hopeful, but still mournful synth line sparkles. This track is imbued by the feeling of accepting the inevitable turn in the seasons (and in our lives) as the endless cycles of the world continue.
By concentrating on the elements that made classic synthwave great, Cosmo Cocktail has created an album full of strong melodies, emotional moments and that ever present throbbing beat. It may not break new ground in the genre, but it is certainly quite an enjoyable listening experience for classic synthwave fans.