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Synth Album Review: "VHS Weekend" by NeonTimeTravel

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

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Overall Impressions

NeonTimeTravel’s VHS Weekend evokes great ‘80s movie soundtracks with richly layered synths, well-crafted melodies, and overflowing energy levels. Each track draws strong mental images and flows together into an ear-pleasing, enjoyable listening experience across the album.

Perhaps the strongest aspect of VHS Weekend is the melodies. Each melody is clear, ear-grabbing, and expressive as it unfolds. I enjoy how the melodies often contrast different emotions within each track, combining more uplifting elements with melancholy or contrasting laid-back vibes with more energetic moments.

Another factor that draws me into the album is the luscious synth layering. There are many different complementary and contrasting musical elements all woven together. Flowing glide mingles with angular motion while the deep bass provides support and the drum sounds add propulsion. While the layers coalesce, each still maintains a distinctive character, making for an engaging end result.

I enjoy the cinematic nature of VHS Weekend. Each track projects a miniature film scene in my mind as I listen, using varied synth tones, timbres, and textures to produce strong imagery. At the same time, the melodies deepen the overall emotional content. Taken together, each track creates different and enjoyable mental images.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Vector Dragon (Intro Theme)”

“Hunter Dragon (Title Theme)” comes to life as a medium-low synth with a metallic gleam oscillating in rising pulses while sweeping sounds flow breathily around it. The medium-low reverberates as the oscillating patterns repeat along with a quick drum flourish.

A brassy, shiny synth repeats an active, energetic pattern, and a smooth drumbeat throbs. Another distant, elevated synth adds a second layer of dynamic motion over the drumbeat. A flowing, twisting synth sweeps past while another tight, glowing sound undulates in rapid lines.

This music effectively exudes energy and motion as the shiny synth pattern leaps in rapidly intertwining lines. Smooth, glittering synth plays a warmer, more caressing melodic line that swells in bursts of light as it leaps along with the steadily pulsing drums.

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“Tracker 8 (Tunnel Chase Theme)”

A burst of trumpeting synth cuts in over a shadowy bass oscillation, shifting rapidly underneath as “Tracker 8 (Tunnel Chase Theme)” begins. The trumpeting synth calls out again as low sounds mingle over the quickly throbbing bass, and pulsating drums shape the music. A delicate, medium-low synth with a subdued brightness plays a melody imbued with encouraging emotion.

I am drawn to how full of life the melody is as it dances through. Brassy synth calls out in a repeating pattern as the hope-filled melody slides along with glassy ease. The jumping drum and bass throb push the track on as gleaming synths slip through the music. The trumpeting synths add a brighter, more dynamic touch before the music fades away.

"Operation Vortex (End Credits Theme)”

"Operation Vortex (End Credits Theme)” starts off with gruff, descending bass and a misty synth flow. The music radiates soothing feelings as gentle drums and bells tick in. Medium-high, string-like synth repeats in an angular pattern, and an open-voiced, full synth sings a melody touched with gentleness.

The melody does a good job of balancing uplifting emotion and wistfulness as it flows over the throbbing drums and oscillating bass. The string-like undulation behind it gives it form as it sings out, while shimmering chimes add more brightness. The active bass and drums move with the gentle glide as arpeggiating notes rock back and forth below the warming, yearning melody.

“Corporate Ties (Board Meeting Theme)”

High, crystalline synths shine out above extended notes that lap in waves to kick off “Corporate Ties (Board Meeting Theme).” Even, driving drum and bass pulses below a glittering, elevated synth playing a gliding melody that is full of ease. Undulating, synth with a pipe-like feeling rapidly flickers in repeating lines while glowing synth bursts add further dynamic energy.

The relaxed vibe of the music is something I enjoy here. The drums keep pulsating until the track moves into a floating, ethereal segment. Once again, the track kicks into the glittering main melody as it dances above the propulsive drums and bass. The sunny synth repeats an active, energetic motion until it fades out.

"Hawthorne (Beach Patrol Theme)”

"Hawthorne (Beach Patrol Theme)” comes into being as metallic, ticking drums and slowly trembling, medium-high synth are joined by a dense bass pulsation. A medium-high, string-like arpeggio tumbles over and over while a broad, medium-high synth imbued with a hazy shine plays a melody with angular energy. The way that the melody’s sense of forwarding motion balances with a mournful ache is well done.

The drums keep up their laid-back pulse, and the active bass line leaps. The high synths sing out a line full of mingled relaxation and melancholy as the rapidly repeating, textured synth adds another layer of interest. The moving, emotive melody flows again over the drumming heartbeat and comes to a halt.

Conclusion

VHS Weekend is a fun trip through a nostalgic synthscape that evokes weekends spent watching movies unfold on a CRT screen as the soft hiss of the tape fades into memory, along with the tales that unfurled in our minds.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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