Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
The Subtheory’s Impact EP has unique percussion, wells of extremely deep bass, many intricate synth lines that intertwine and interact and a quality of expressiveness in the way that these different elements function that produces a rather full, complex sound.
There’s tremendous variety in the types of synth sounds that The Subtheory uses on Impact to create many different effects. There are edgier sounds to evoke tension, dark washes of deep bass to add support and lead synths that each have distinct and unique qualities which add even more complexity to the overall sonic landscape of this EP.
A certain quality of darkness seems to permeate Impact. There is something ominous and heavy about many of the tracks on this EP that comes from extremely deep bass as well as a mixture of tension from tightly wound high synths and threat in some of the more rough-edged synth sounds that exist on the recording. All together, it creates a feeling of danger lurking in the darkness, just out of sight.
For a short EP, there’s tremendous layering going on in each track. There are quite a few moving parts to the music, but it largely keeps those parts working well together. I’m able to hear each part clearly and I feel that they tend to work well as elements in a larger sonic picture. I didn’t feel the music was too busy, but I am a sucker for layered and complex music. It certainly was a sound that drew my ear in.
Track by Track Analysis
Here is a look at each track.
“Video Crash 83”
“Video Crash 83” has complexity and movement in it and that always helps me to enjoy a piece of music. The track opens on soft sparkles of synth that flicker like stars in the flowing space around them before the deep thumping kick drum hits to add more depth underneath that flow.
There’s a feeling of openness to the hollow pulsing sound that moves in and through. I also like the way more arpeggios dance and sparkle, lightening the track as they shine. The melody which wanders and drifts has a wildness to it that I find interesting. This is a track with all sorts of textures and sonic ideas that interlink in a way that makes for a good listening experience.
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“Apart from you, a part of you”
The stuttering, jumping feeling of “Apart from you, a part of you” makes it feel vaguely unsettled. The way the crunchy hollow synths play a repeating, moving series of quick notes has echoes in the slightly broken beat.
I also find the track’s balance engaging with a high, delicate and perhaps slightly ghostly lead synth melody that contrasts with the less stable elements under it. The ghostly feeling continues in the disembodied vocal sample that floats in and fades out.
“Skyline” is one of the most complex tracks on the EP. It has so many different moving parts to it and their interactions make it quite interesting to explore. There are waves of oscillating edgy synth below another distorting, drifting synth of a different tone.
I’m drawn to the way the oscillating pattern gives way to disembodied and flowing sounds over very deep bass that surges in pulses. On the one hand, there’s extremely deep bass which I feel adds more structure and on the other hand, there’s a thin, high pattern of shifting synth notes to cut through and add tension.
When the melody finally comes in, it has a spaced out quality and a Theremin-like sound that again contrasts with the relentless beat and bass in the track to add one more dimension to an already dense auditory landscape of the EP.
There is a patterned feeling to “Impact” that was interesting to hear. I like how the track begins on long arcing synth sounds which have a slightly rough edge before a pulse of percussion shapes them. There’s a push/pull feeling to the music which keeps my ears engaged while a tense, medium-high moving synth line wriggles into the music to add some drama.
That drama only increases with the broken beats and edgy dark bass under it. The lead synth has a unique, almost nasal sound as it plays a warmer, melancholy melody to add a hint of something tragic to the overall sound of the track.
The Impact EP takes listeners on a journey through a complex, rich and varied synth landscape that can be shadowed, but also shot through with bright moments and some melancholy. The Subtheory has made music that stands up to close listening and creates interesting sonic pictures as it unfolds.