Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
Electron Odyssey’s Your Future Awaits combines intensely varied, richly textured synth sounds with intriguing harmonic moments and engaging melodic writing. When coupled with the massive power of the drums and deep wells of bass, the end result is a sweeping sonic journey over ear-pleasing soundscapes. There are also strong vocal performances added to the mix from talented guests that add more expression and emotion to the music.
One of my favourite aspects of synth music is the sheer ability of synthesizers to create musical timbres, tones and textures. Electron Odyssey takes full advantage of that ability on Your Future Awaits to create symphonies of intermingling lattices of sound. The ways in which brightness, shadow, warmth and grit interact with each other on this album produce sounds that take hold of my ears and won’t let go.
The weaving together of all of the rich variety of synth sounds also produces moments of harmonic interaction that lend a depth and nuance to Your Future Awaits. There are fascinating harmonies that weave below the melodic content to paint intense auditory imagery for the listener. This is an album that goes beyond retrowave cliché in its quality.
I am also drawn to Electron Odyssey’s melodic writing chops on this album. It can be a challenge to craft melodies that are attractive and memorable, but the melodies on this album have those qualities. There’s a clarity to them that draws the ear and their combination of different emotional expressions deepens the overall atmosphere of the album’s music.
Megan McDuffee and Drew Tyler’s vocal contributions to Your Future Awaits bring their unique voices to the forefront and add another layer to the songs on which they sing. Electron Odyssey incorporates their singing while retaining the character of the music he’s written on the album.
My Favourite Tracks Analyzed
“Meet the Horizon” comes into being with a sweep of high sound that whistles in before a tightly knit pattern of metallic synth creates interwoven pulses that rise and fall in a bright line. The drums cascade through sounding clean and hard hitting as the active bass line shifts. An echoing pattern of resonant synth is now joined by a twisting melody that soars and whirls in intricate notes.
I am enamoured of how that melody cries out while elevated sparkles of sound glitter. The beat bursts in hard, the synth dances and the track return to a steady bass pulse. The drums kick in to add shape to the music while a crystalline synth sings high notes over the minor key melody.
Static crackle and a jazzy synth blare along with a funky drum and bass groove open “Show Me The Way.” Jazz organ carries some interesting chords over the gritty synth that drops in. Robotic vocals shift over the groove that sits in the pocket as a quick glitter flickers through the song. I especially enjoy the way that the achingly cool xylophone dances in metallic, melodic lines as the faded , robotic vocals wander.
The drums and bass keep grooving as a skipping piano solo trips through, displaying a virtuosic touch. The jazz organ’s voice adds more richness to the song as flickering synth cascades into the music. The tasty xylophone melody rings out as glimmering synth flashes also shine through.
When a deep relationship ends, there’s a sense of being left hanging that this song expresses. As it opens, the narrator asks, “Please won’t you show me the way?” He says that he really wants to know it and adds,”I've got to get on my way, the time is now for me to go.”
The situation leaves his head spinning but “my mind can’t hear a sound.” He and the song’s subject have been together “all these years” and now he’s got to stop himself from crying. As he is gently set on the ground, he says that the other person “left without a sound.” Now he’s so alone and as they disappeared, he’s left with “no way back” and so is lost.
“Computers Control” kicks off with deep, digital sounding bass that grows into the track. The thudding kick drum moves below an active, warm synth pulse. The medium high synth glides over the thumping kick drum and I enjoy how the flashing, digital lead synth wriggles in a patterned line. The deep oscillation shifts below the wandering digital sounds that move wildly as the bass and drum throb glitches out along with another vocal sample.
A car door shuts and an engine starts as a thick, chest filling bass pulse adds weight and the drums glide to start “The Stars Disappear.” Drew Tyler’s voice is emotive as the dense electric guitar winds and weaves through the track. I am drawn to the guitar's rich quality and its jagged edge to it as it moves behind Drew Tyler’s clear vocals. Quick, glimmering arpeggios dance through the track and the gritty bass throbs again.
The guitar growls deeply as the aching vocal melody carries above it. The chorus feels painful and hopeful in equal measure as swirling synth clouds waft through. The drums batter as the dense, powerful synth plays large blocks of sound and the guitar calls out the melody. The electric guitar’s passionate howl carries an emotional, energetic solo.
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This song’s lyrics begin with the stark image of the narrator as he drives “through the night to you, along the empty road.” He left everything behind “for just one night” and now in his mind’s eye he says, “I see you standing there."
In the chorus, he talks about how he’ll find the other person and they’ll know him “in the place where the stars disappear.”
At the moment, he wonders who the other person might be now. To him, they are “a photo in my dreams” and memories of a life they didn’t live. He opens the car’s window and “a letter on the seat meant long ago for you blows away.”
He fervently repeats that “time and time…again” he’ll wait for them. He ends by asking, “Will you wait for me?”
“Dream With Your Eyes Open” comes to life with shiny, delicate synth flashes that flow into the track with a resonant, robotic voice that adds a chanting quality to the music. The synths keep shimmering as a glitching sound comes in before the drums charge.
I enjoy the combination of the female voice as it cries out, heavy chunks of synth descend and substantial electric guitar chords growl out. Whorls of synth drift in and smooth chords climb slowly as elevated notes glisten. Sweeping sound moves over slow bass waves before a raised, tense synth cries out an arcing melody. The melody’s sharpness cuts through the depths that shift below it.
The soft trickle of rain and unique percussion blend with a synth that sounds like an an amplified kalimba to start “Gold On Grey.” The kalimba-like synth plays a gentle pattern of notes as a harp glimmers with delicacy. I especially enjoy the full, operatic female voice that adds richness and a feeling of rounded sound to the music.
There’s a metallic quality to the percussion while long synth chords sweep through above it. The operatic voice has a timeless quality as sunny sounds play cascading patterns. The dancing, intertwining strings and full voice are enfolded in rising synth clouds. The harp sings in a line of coruscating light and we return to rain and hollow percussion.
"Autumn Words” breathes into being with the soft splash of waves and extended, glowing synth chords. The shimmering, elevated synth carries an easily drifting melody, sparkling out as Megan McDuffee’s voice rises over the smooth steady drum pulse in a yearning, dreaming and elegant melody as it drifts along.
Glittering arpeggios spin and the vocals shine as well as the beat’s throb shapes the track. After a drum fill, a deep bass pulse adds more form while the vocal melody gently climbs and we break to grittier guitar chords and solid bass. The wheeling, crying guitar solo moves through in a cascade of singing notes that are impassioned.
This is a song about hope and transcending boundaries. The song opens on a strong image in the lines “One by one into the sky, never looking down, heads held high.” While the waves below “break on the shore” they shut their eyes and “hear no more.”
I enjoy the idea of “autumn words” being whispered in the narrator’s ears, as promises take away her fears. The feeling of hope abounds in the lines, “silver clouds shine in your eyes, as we soar through crystal skies.” They touch “pyramids of neon light” as they share the night, hand in hand.”
High, sunny synth notes call out over a smooth flow of caressing, mellow sound to open “Sunrise One.” Below the whirling arpeggios, there’s a deep bass oscillation and drums that propel the track forward. I am enamoured of the elevated synth as it sings a crystalline melody, full of gentle feelings, doubled by the fullness of the guitar.
There’s a break into round, swelling notes and again the drum beats and bass throbs. A guitar solo makes its arcing, wandering journey through the track as intricate notes intertwine, full of passionate energy. The drums and bass keep up a heartbeat below the solo as the track swells back into long, melancholy notes and a sunlit shine as the deep bass throbs again.
“Mother of Machines” starts off with mechanical whirring and digital sounds that create the sense of a computer coming to life. A dense, rising line of wandering digital synth forms a repetitive, open-feeling pattern. The smooth beat glides and a string section swells into the music, lush and round, rising to crescendo and fade. The strings sweep and grow, drifting out over the drum and bass pulse, guiding the track onward. Another wave of rich sound rises up as the pattern of roving digital notes keeps surging and receding.
I enjoy the use of dynamics in the track, adding more character and range to the music. There’s a break to soft wind and rain, digital sounds floating out in a winding line over a hang drum. Shadowy, powerful brass cries out in a minor key pattern as metallic notes wriggle over it. The track opens to glitchy sound and a writhing line of hollow, chiming sound. The drums have a chest deep throb as the brass growls and a higher, ethereal choral sound descends. The track fades out into buzzing silence as the machine winds down.
Your Future Awaits is a synth album that ranges through an auditory landscape that is full of a stunning variety of synth sounds along with a musical sensibility that creates a cohesive expression of emotion. Electron Odyssey’s album is one of my favourites of the year.