Visonia / Synth Alien :: Opal’s Sunflowers / Memories (Last Known Trajectory)

The disco currents of past releases have been sidelined, a more mature and developed sound taking its place.

Visonia / Synth Alien :: Opal's Sunflowers / Memories (Last Known Trajectory)

In a strange coincidence, the latest two musicians to appear on Last Known Trajectory played in Madrid at the end of January. That might not seem too weird until you take a few factors into account. Ok, Synth Alien plays a fair bit in his home country of Spain; but Memories marks his debut on the UK label. Visonia is offering up his second album on LKT, but I’m guessing his appearance at Femur, one of Madrid’s (if not Europe’s) best electronic music nights, was a first out of his native Chile.

What struck me, when I managed to escape the bitter winds of a chilly Madrid night, on first hearing Visonia live was the throb of the bass lines he was using. On past outings Nicolas Estany’s sounds has been a much lighter and warmer affair. On giving Opal’s Sunflowers a good listen I soon realized that the extra muscle was applied for the audience and that same delicacy of touch is present. But don’t be mistaken, you’re not in for some journey into ambient airiness. Instead Estany, who I must admit looks surprisingly young once his gimp mask if off (only for live performances I’m sure), knows when to add and subtract necessary weight. It’s difficult to pin down the core style that this Chilean pursues. When vocals are employed, as in “Waltz of the Fireflies” and “Danse Avec La Lune,” or when drums bubble and melt, in “Beyond the Clouds,” you’d be forgiven for pinning this fledgling artist down as synth wave cross. But it’s not that easy. Beats drop and rise throughout, plummeting in the heartfelt “Tan Cerca, Tan Lejos” whereas “The Owl” is an enveloping piece of emotion. Similarly, title track has lyrics and yet is out there on an electronic elegy limb. It’s as though this newcomer is just that, like he’s come at electronic music with a totally fresh interpretation of the entire genre. There are some pop sentiments in places and even moments of abstraction, as in the lowing keys of “The Petals Fly Toward Us.” Nevertheless, it was the overall disregard for set style that made Impossible Romance so enjoyable and makes Opal’s Sunflowers stand-out from the pack.

Synth Alien follows, as he did at Femur. Four tracks of diverse and textured electro is the serving. This isn’t straight up electro, instead the foundations are used to construct new and different shapes and form. “Battle at the Red Mountain,” with its rasping percussion and sweeping strings, fits more into an electronica suit. Yet there’s also a movie score smoothness to the track, one which runs into the sleek “Night That Lights The Day” before bleeding into the lush depths of “We Never Came Back.” The cleanest cut of the quartet is “Flying Over The Steppe.” But in true Synth Alien form this isn’t just straight up machine funk. Amidst the clipped beats swim soulful chords, to give the track a richer more textured quality.

Well you’ll be happy to know I survived that night at Femur, despite the cutting winds. I also had a great time. Some of that was down to good company, but most of it was down to great music. And that’s what Last Known Trajectory has released with this latest pair. Everyone who knows Visonia awaited their second album with baited breath, and the young talent did not disappoint. Opal’s Sunflowers is a cracking piece of work, thoughtful analogue goodness from needle drop to run out. Synth Alien is an interesting addition, and a successful one. The disco currents of past releases have been sidelined, a more mature and developed sound taking its place. Cracking night out in Madrid, cracking to the new for LKT.

Both releases are available on Last Known Trajectory.

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