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Synth Album Review: "VHS-Highway" by Saros-FM

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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

Saros-FM’s VHS-Highway is a flowing voyage through rich, caressing and all-encompassing soundscapes that balance energy and soothing, gliding sensations. The album creates a feeling of peace, touched by melancholy and shaped by throbbing drums and deep bass wells.

One of the most compelling elements of VHS-Highway is the melodies that Saros-FM weaves in his music. He has a knack for creating melodies that are full of gentleness and warmth, but that are still touched by more melancholy and aching feelings. The way those elements balance create a touching emotional effect.

Another strong aspect of VHS-Highway is the atmosphere it produces. It feels like it’s full of swirling pastel clouds, pierced by sunlight and moving above a world of blue water. The sounds blend and intertwine, painting imagery and generating mood in a cohesive and pleasing way.

The subtle balance of synths is another part of this album to which I was drawn. Saros-FM has considered how each synth interacts with the others to create a mixture of sounds that complement and contrast with one another. The cumulative effect draws the listener’s ears as the mixture of tones and timbres add textures and colours to the musical landscape.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“A Modern Touch” comes into being with solid retro drums pounding below twinkling synth sparkles that dance lightly over the throbbing drums. Reverberating notes, gentle and smooth, waft in a light-filled melodic pattern as an intense burst of bright synth chords shimmer out over the continuous beat. I enjoy the tinge of melancholy in the delicately touching melody carried on a nasal, medium-high synth.

The lead synth part has a floating feeling over the solid, slightly rough-edged bass pulsation. The sparkling flow above it adds the sensation of sunlight on water as the rising chords climb to support the other elements and a whorl of synth sound glides along without fuss, adding a feeling of drifting as the beat shapes the track. I feel settled as I listen and the track fades on glimmering light sparkles

Hollow, reverent synth moves in a distant, slow pattern as “Divanity” starts out. An oscillating, heavy-hitting bass line adds weight and power below the choral synth. A pulsating, driving drumbeat shifts below sweeping synth notes, glowing as they extend in an airy flow.

I am drawn to the lost, wandering melody that exudes aching emotion as slow arpeggios shimmer with misty light around the melodic line. The melody feels timeless as the arpeggios add texture to the music. The track breaks into a soothing flow that is full of a sense of peace.

Medium-high synth bursts into glittering notes that slide out into space before the beat adds its energy to the music over bass weight.

The drums have a wide open feeling as the arpeggios dance and spin, weaving through the aching vocal synth as it deepens the track’s emotive feeling.

“Heavy Lightning” comes alive with rapid pulses of rough-edged sound below much a smoother, more open and distant-sounding synth that drifts along in rising chords. The chords are shining and dense as they spread through the music along with twinkling chimes. I am enamoured of the melancholy emotion in the melody carried on thick, bright synth pulses.

A glittering line of elevated synth winds through the track, moving with an emotive glow, as it roams through lush sonic surroundings. The lead synth part is imbued with a crystalline glow above the steady bass oscillation and a nasal-sounding synth that flickers in between them.

The voice of the synth sliding in the background drenches the track in wistful sound through which the leaping, singing lead cascades. Above the never-ending beat, an emotive, round synth howls out passionately, the melody deep with a sense of wanderlust and loss.

Full notes carried on a xylophone-like synth are joined by a rapid digital-sounding arpeggio, repeating out into the aquatic flow of “In The Midnight Sea” as it slides along. A gently oscillating, deep bass pulse and a chiming shimmer create a caressing feeling as the drums shape the music. Tremulous synth notes brush the track and shining chords burst in, fade out and burst in again as the arpeggio spins.

Small, distant bursts of trumpeting synth flicker like star shine on the water. I enjoy the sensation that this track creates, a feeling of being on a boat scudding over the smooth surface of the midnight sea. The full, digital sounding arpeggio spins out as a fragile whisper of synth touches the music over the drumbeat and bass. The track returns to bright chords and the beat that adds form as the chords climb, the higher notes ever so distantly singing with a brassy voice.

“A Modern Prophecy” opens with pastel synth swirling in quick arpeggios as a lower pulse of gentle bass moves in slow steps in the distance. The arpeggios add an airy quality to the music as they keep spinning and the bass is joined by a relaxed drum pulse. I am a fan of the way the pink clouds of synth flow over the steady drumbeat and bass throb. There’s a drum fill and more bright arpeggios spin out as the light-filled synth chords swell and the beat’s pulse continues on.

An elevated synth tumbles through the track, glimmering out over the solid elements underlaying it. The track creates a dense synth wash in which all of the elements intertwine and move together, full of energy despite the calming, laidback synths. 

There’s a slowly descending bassline before a high, melodic pattern is carried on a wriggling synth that inscribes itself across the track in a glittering line. The track closes as arpeggios whirl and the bass descends beneath the driving drums and lush, misty synth clouds.

A thumping, charging trance beat kicks off “The Function of Existence” along with quick flashes of bright synth. Round, full synth rises in a caressing, heart-warming flow of sound glides above it. Slow, circular-sounding arpeggios dance over the surface of the beat, rippling smoothly. I am drawn to the sensation of easy flight through a distant cloudscape imparted by the arpeggios as they shift

A melody that sings of dreams and delicate hope comes in along with sparkling chimes that flash through the softer clouds around them as the beat leaps. There’s a break into a soothing sonic flow that permeates the track as the rippling arpeggio slides in along with a rush of air. There’s a crescendo as the trance beat throbs and reverent, ethereal chords rise.

The gauzy, enfolding melody sings, given shape and energy by the beat. As the track draws to a close, shimmering synth chimes call out like crystalline rain drops before fading into the beat alone and then silence.

Conclusion

VHS-Highway's journey across a gentle soundscape is rich, full of musical interweaving and image making and touched with emotion and melancholy feeling. Saros-FM has created another lush, fulfilling album here.

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