Synth Album Review: iamMANOLIS, "IAM"
Greek synth artist iamMANOLIS’ latest album IAM is groovy, funky and as smooth as buttered silk. It’s drenched in warm vibes, sexy melodies and inflected by disco, funk and R&B influences that all blend into a seamless concoction of musical enjoyment that enfolds the ears and takes the listener on a journey.
Can we talk about how iamMANOLIS’ brings the funk on this album? There are some undeniably funky tracks on IAM and one of the main reasons for that is the bass. iamMANOLIS’ use of bass is so effective on this album with its gnarly, deep tone and funky sound. On the smoother, more flowing tracks he uses bass effectively as well, giving them a deep well of support.
Another element of this album that I thoroughly enjoyed is just how smooth everything is. IAM’s production has emphasized the silken smoothness of all of the musical elements from the drums to the synths to the bass. I really felt as if I was listening to double cream being poured and swirled into hot chocolate on IAM. There’s just such a smoothness to everything that I could nearly touch it.
I must say that personally, out of all the tracks, it was the sexy slow jams that really grabbed me on IAM. There’s just such a wonderful, tantalizing sex appeal to the way that they groove, throb and caress. There’s something about the interaction of the warm melodies, deep bass and gliding drums that combined to lull me into a state of sensual trance and stroke my ears with their undeniable chilled (but not chilly) vibe.
The grooves on IAM are undeniable too. The disco bassline on “Golden”, the locked in bass and drums on “Heat” or the deep, slow gyrations of groove on “Bared Soul” all are great examples of how iamMANOLIS combines all of the various sonic elements on IAM into one well of groovy enjoyment to chill out with and have fun with.
While I have to admit that I enjoyed every track on IAM, I did have a few favourites that particularly made me want to comment on them, so that is what I’ll do right now!
The opening track “Golden” just brings so much damn funk to the party with that disco bassline and the slap bass sound. The synth melody that rides over the top is smooth, flowing and warm over that fat bassline and drum groove. I was also a fan of the disco string hits that popped up in this track, further adding to the funky feeling of it. The melody has a nice energy to it as it dances up on those high synths, but the real star of the track is that funkified bass.
“Breakthrough” is a sexy slow jam with deep smooth bass and a great beat riding over it. There’s a jazzy feeling to the synth melodies on the track and that funky bass creates a tasty groove. The main melody kicks in and oozes sex appeal on this very cool track. The vocoder vox makes this sound like a retrofuture robot makeout jam. As the track progresses, the synth melody gets solostic, wandering and even more jazz-inflected.
There’s a real positive sense of nostalgia to "Jul 83.” The track starts out with a slight distortion before gliding into a tasteful, flowing melody over those silken beats and nicely pulsating bass. The guitar on the track has pure retrolicious vibes and a great tone. The synths shimmer and glitter through the track and add a nice sensation to the music. I was taken by the beautiful simplicity of the melody here.
Out of all of the tracks on IAM, my favourite was most definitely “Mellow” with its ultra-slow groove and sinuous, sensual feeling. The track just wrapped itself around my ears, intertwining and sliding sexily around me. The melody is soothing and vibrant and the way the track glides and grooves means that the song should really be entitled Mellow (and Sexy).
The combination of funky, jazzy and smooth elements makes IAM an album that’s worthy of a listen in my view. It’s nice to hear synth music that creates a mood that diverges from cyberpunk or more mainstream synthwave sounds, while still emphasizing all of the qualities that endear listeners to synth-based music. I am definitely going to be listening to IAM whenever I want to just be enveloped by creamy smooth waves of sound and have my ears gently caressed by sensual, groovy jams.