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Synth EP Review: "Deathtouch" by Shadowrunner & Guests

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

Shadowrunner – Deathtouch EP

Shadowrunner – Deathtouch EP

Tribute to Bloodsport

Shadowrunner’s Deathtouch is a tribute to the soundtrack of Bloodsport. It’s full of ethereal sounds and East Asian musical influences as it unfolds in layered, complex synth imagery. The EP features contributions from Syst3m Glitch, Dimi Kaye and jacket.

“Eastbound Plane/Mattaei”

“Eastbound Plane/Mattaei” begins as expanding synth ripples float outwards into space, broken by a hammered dulcimer glissando and rattling percussion. An airy shakuhachi calls out and metallic notes flash before a dynamically dancing synth pipe leaps out in a fluttering line. The throbbing drum and bass drive propels the track as martial drums batter in.

The drums and bass have a pulsating motion that guides a floating, ethereal melody carried on the the breathy flute. Rapidly oscillating bass moves below delicate synth clouds as medium-high, densely glowing synth caresses the listener’s ears. String-like arpeggios whirl before trumpeting, uplifting synth cries out a majestic melody. The drums and bass surge onwards and interlock with the hollow, pipe-like synth as the track ends.


Flat, blunt drums strike in a regular pulse as a hissing sound sweeps in to open “Survivor.” String-like synth dances in an angular pattern as the drums and bass throb out an energizing beat. An elevated sound sings in a caressing melodic line underneath Dimi Kaye’s triumphant, soaring guitar. The guitar melody lifts the soul upwards in a sparkling pattern and the smoothly guiding beat drives on.

Gleaming, floating synth delicately drifts as Dimi Kaye’s guitar cuts in. Xylophone-like synth trickles through the track below the howling, bending guitar as the propulsive drums and bass push on. There’s life and soul oozing from the rich guitar tones as flaring synth accents and woodsy xylophone spins out a round pattern. Dimi Kaye’s guitar ends the track with with wild energy and abundantly uplifting emotion


“Shidoshi” commences with distorted, deep synth and the soft trickle of rain touched by full-sounding, synths flickering in a lightly fluttering melodic line. Intensely throbbing bass forms a guiding pattern mirrored by medium-high, flashing chimes that intensify the patterned feeling. The massive bass pulsation bends slightly as pipes play a cosmically drifting melody and huge percussion thunders briefly.

Glowing chimes and the matching bass oscillation are cut by a shakuhachi’s woodsy voice as the distortion occasionally bends the background sounds. Fluting notes cry out in an aching melody before the track breaks into metallic chimes ringing out before the colossal drums and gruff bass throb push the music on. Oscillating bass is softly caressed by ethereal pipe sounds that flicker easily, balanced by glittering synth.

Heavy drums throb and the bass undulates as a rising, bright sound fills the music. The slightly distorted sounds lend a unique quality while bass waves fade into a watery trickle. A higher synth carries a continuous note as drums batter in bursts. The watery wash is touched by a piano delicately playing a tender series of notes out into bird song and silence.


A deep bass well is touched by a round-sounding, spinning arpeggio and elegiac trumpeting sounds drift as “Deathtouch" starts. A rapidly pulsating bassline is guided by a steady kick drum and hard-hitting percussion. The track launches into prodigious percussive throbbing and thumb piano sound flickers before pipes carry an energetic, but cosmically soothing melody.

The drums and bass create muscled motion as a distant, medium-high synth swirls. Xylophone ripples and the shakuhachi’s breathy, expressive notes create a more pained feeling. A progressive drum and bass pulsation underpins a fully layered, rich sound palette. The shakuhachi’s bamboo is both uplifting and aching as the track fades out on a deep bass well.

© 2022 Karl Magi