Synthesis "Space Travels"
Review by Lauri Turjansalo
Space Travels is promoted as a tribute to the masters of spacesynth so I had a pretty good idea what the album would sound like. Synthesis takes a stab at classic Laserdance style using same tempos, similar sounds and arrangements. Sometimes Synthesis is trying to be even too much like the predecessors because the album suffers from same symptoms as some classic tracks.
Space Travels consists of 12 instrumental tracks. No vocoder singing of any kind. Apart from a couple of slower tracks tempos are around 125 bpm. Music is generally very energetic and has a happy mood to it. While the fine looking cover art is filled with spacey elements, Space Travels isnít exactly scifi-galore. Instead, it focuses on the rhythmical, discoíish side of spacesynth. Basslines are strong and drum tracks very varied giving a good basis to build melodies on. Rhythmically the cd is very well done and easily tops the classic acts there.
Synthesis is not hiding the fact that his music is strongly influenced by Laserdance, Koto and such. Like the title implies Space Excitation is inspired by Excitation by Laserdance. However, Synthesisí track left me quite cold there due to weak melodies. Melodies on the album tend to fall short at places. Sometimes it feels like Synthesis isnít brave enough to push his melodies further Ė mostly he likes to stay on the safe side. That is unfortunate because some tracks sound quite boring because of repetitive chord progressions. Furthermore, lead sounds arenít very imaginative and start to get a little bit old into the second half of the album. Stronger and wider soundpalette would have helped a great deal.
Although the lack of good melodic content somewhat bugs me, there are some well made tunes. Beyond the Galaxy and The Battle have some catchy sections and generally good drive. Apart from the ugly pan flute, Trip to Nowhere is also quite nice reminding of Humphrey Robertsonís style. Time Machine is one of the highlights because of its slower tempo, spacey atmosphere and emotional melodies. Fat synth stabs is something that Synthesis is good at Ė and thereís no lack of them. Intros are simple but effective.
Like LDís Technological Mind, the tracks on Space Travels donít have enough personality to differ much from each other. While the music is very energetic and it nicely follows the steps of the spacesynth masters, overall feeling is a little bit dull. Good melodies appear here and there but in the end compositions arenít quite clever enough to get me really hooked on. Itís a shame that Awakening and Enter to Darkness arenít on the album because they are better than some of the included tracks. I have my little gripes about this release but as a whole I think Synthesis has made a nice debut cd and has proved that he handles the retro style.