05 Oct 2021 - Gene
EBM, Experimental, Synthwave | Flowing Downward | Release date: 30 Sep 2021
Joyous synths and Black Metal strange bedfellows in the righteous new outing Wishdream , 3rd drama from enigmatic experimental project Abstract Void
There was this rock club 3 blocks from Madison Square Garden we used to sneak into to see shows sometimes, via the rehersal space next door. Played there a few times, too. One of these nights we were breaking down late and the PA clicks over and it’s dark dance night. Must’ve been midnight. The leather-skirted, enspiked and tall-booted droogs already filing in, deep drones and bouncy synths dropping bass bombs above our buzzing heads, still buzzing from the cold feedback of our post-grunge. The light show reflecting starkly on their pale and rouged skin. And I was struck by the contrast of our predilections.
Wishdream feels like that moment of transition. A moment of dissonance between two knowns alight upon the clashing pallettes. The end product of which is incorrigibly fun. You might not think it would gel yet somehow it does work. As it should; here you have the third album by idiosyncratic mystery-project, Abstract Void, dialing up a matured approach to black metal synthwave.
Melody-driven synths and metal guitar plot the course. Aided by excellent drumming, really throughout the album. The production is flawless. The vocal mix is interesting the way it rides low in the mix – likely to be a point of contention. It is clearly a careful choice, as is every other layer, and that is to be considered as to how you take the effect. On balance the vocals make sense when viewing the voice as another agent of sustain, just another instrument.
Things get especially interesting by the 2nd track ”Storms”, the hushed screams come into strength. And again, building in power on the culminating end of ”Midnight Heart”, the euphoric transition into ”Beyond The Horizon”. You’ll want to clear some room. You’ll want to dance this one out. It really feels like this fun mashup of styles, inviting few and far between comparisons, but you might point at the dream-goth of Lantlos or the brilliant 80’s homage of Bioplan, perhaps the bold juxtoposition of synth-worship and classic rock guitar of the Arcadea project.
Listening with a good set of headphones is recommended, as the stereo mix is part of the pleasure. Getting to the halfway mark of ”Impermanence” with the drumming getting more involved, all the fills really hitting the mark as the song gains that electro-bop, the tactile and the atmospheric blending into some unstoppable full-body sway. The breakdown toward the latter part of the track a highlight of the album for me here, driving the experimentalism on home with joyous synths and busy drums, even a double bass blast or two to round it out.
The vocals seem to back off around this point in the album, too, which is one thing I initially found strange. Felt as though it should carry through, but I see the other instruments taking center stage and that is not a bad thing. Might even be the logical point to circle back and find the vocals treated in their intention as accoutrements.
This effect is pulled off especially well on penultimate cut ”New Vision”, on which the soft vocal assault has found it’s sparse but effective timing and again on closer ”Release”, which has completed the journey from metal to Bop and synthesized the two. Never to be forgotten, the guitar comes back to give the melody a welcome bite.
And that another special thing about this album. All the smoothed edges of bouncing synths balance beautifully with the brash grit of Metal. Then the album ends without applomb, almost abruptly, in a strange moment of loss begging me to kick the record over again, as if I’ve missed something. Eager to get lost again in these contrary styles and moods. It is, indeed, highly repeatable. Very pleasant to find the mood and want to keep playing it. Keep sneaking into that double-faced dance club. Now later in the night. Listening for that monitor kick, hoping to see the lights soften and begin to pulse. Something unusual is to be found within.