Lyssna: DDR Space Program – Race To Win

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Ett uppiggande släpp, minst sagt. DDR Space Program från Stockholm levererar optimistisk och dansant retrowave, i och med det senaste släppet “Race To Win“. Det låter som något som skulle kunna vara ett reklamsläpp för Tour De France på åttiotalet. Allt handlar om fart och flärd, ‘var den förste i mål och ta hem vinsten’.

Uppsvinget som denna slags musik har fått på senare tid är intressant och kan reflekteras över, för vem kan egentligen ifrågasätta den framtidsoptimism som kännetecknade 80-talet? Hur väl passar den in i 2010-talet? Det känns väldigt främmande att denna tidsanda kunnat återuppstå, så det är magiskt hur väl den kunnat anpassas i musikform till hur vi lever nu. Trots att det ibland känns malplacerat, så lyckas DDR Space Program producera en ambitiös och närmast gudomlig ljudbild.

Det måste också tilläggas att en av de främsta influenserna är italo disco, kanske inte i sin renaste form, men i samklang med nyare electroclash – vilket gör det hela ett snäpp intressantare, eftersom att den genren i sig sällan är något att hänga i granen. Det här är vad han själv har att säga om släppet:

Race to win är DDR Space Programs andra släpp. Som vanligt är den inspelad i min hemmastudio på mina analoga syntar och sedan mixad ihop med min kompis i hans studio. Det är viktigt att för mig att använda riktiga syntar när jag spelar in. Det är en viss känsla i att sitta och ratta på riktiga grejer och så låter det oftast så mycket bättre.

EPn har ett cykeltema, vilket kanske märks. Mest för att jag själv börjat cykla väldigt mycket och tycker det är otroligt frigörande och kul, samtidigt som det på något sätt passar genren eftersom både spacesynth och cykling är snabbt och tufft. Från början var nog inte tanken att det skulle handla om just cykling, men när jag skrev “Le Tour” så kände jag att alla låtar passade in ett sådant sammanhang.

EPn har skrivits och spelats in parallellt med att jag skrivit låtar och spelat in med mitt andra projekt “Carino Cat” som är renodlad italo disco. Självklart tar jag ibland idéer från det ena projektet och lånar ut till det andra, vilket säkert gör att italoinfluenserna är ganska tydliga i DDR Space Program. Känslan jag vill få fram med DDR Space Program är att folk som lyssnar på det ska känna att det andas 80-tal. Tiden då gated reverb var norm, virveln var blaskig, syntarna var analoga och musiken var bäst.

Lyssna till släppet i sin helhet här nedanför. Man kan också köpa en CD-skiva för 50 kronor om man mejlar till ddr.space@gmail.com

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Review: TSTI – Endings

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Some time ago TSTI had his third album released, or second if you don’t count “Evaluated: An Album Of Remixes“. German-based Basic Unit Productions have gotten the pleasure to release “Endings” – which is the apt title of the release. Other Voices Records have also gotten their share of it and have released a limited edition cassette of it. We’ve had the possibility of listening to a few of the demos before this was released and they sounded promising, as does his whole discography. The aesthetics of the release are industrial and very cut and paste, not really anything we enjoy at all, and the first album “Evaluations” looked more alluring visually.

The album clocks in at around thirty-six minutes in total. So let’s get into what this album has to offer in its entirety, by doing a track-by-track review of it.

Things I Would Do” is a special kind of song when it comes to the atmosphere, right from the start there is an inviting kind of mystic vibe over it but at the same time an assertive industrial sound to it. We’re not really fans of the processed vocals at all but the lyrics in this song are simple but add a catchy melodious tone to an – at first – deserted landscape. The favorite part comes forth in the build-up until the chorus and the chorus itself, as they both pack a melodious punch which is remindable and emotional. It lurks in the background and comes out in full bloom together with the drum beats and snaredrum, which later on forms a stunning introductory to a hopefully, equally as great album.

We’ve been fortunate enough to hear the craftsman, S. Smith, create this marvelous tune step-by-step until it finally was released on Basic Unit Productions. Even though the fondness of the demo-version of this song have caught on, his stamp throughout it makes for a more bombastic and impactful experience.

Naïveté (feat. Jennifer Touch)” is a lot more pop-influenced then the first one, but he stays true to himself and his sound, which allows for a heavier side to take place amongst the cheesier vibes of the flute and the melody itself. It is not necessarily the build-up and climax of the song which is interesting, but rather the dissective nature of the downbeat melodies that are produced in between – giving it a whole atmosphere instead of a half one. We don’t think “Jennifer Touch” adds anything that gives this song momentum, or a different characteristic, which is probably not what was meant – but as a collaborative effort it is stale. The instruments and rhythm are more interesting here then the synthesizers for the most part, as they are more complex and add more to the song overall.

The slower nature of “Sincerity” allows S. Smith to build up a better atmosphere then in any of the other songs, this one crushes totally in terms of the synthesizers vibrancy and the emotional delivery of his vocals. It is almost like an anthemic ballad in of itself and layer upon layer of instrumentation cut right through and form the shape of a transgression between straight-forward synth-pop and ambient music. A very nice addition which sprawls from his old sound and new, to connect and make something greater then all of that. Too bad that he underestimates this kind of touch with his other songs, whom are more industrial in nature, but not in the crafty kind of way – because they build upon a foundation of synth-pop – instead of a transgressiveness between severeal genres.

It is a dreamy song and we drear the end of it, which comes at a too fast pace unfortunately. Even though it is the slowest song yet, but at the time it is allowed to brood and deliver chord upon chord of nicely laden synthesized beauty – is precisely the reason why one ought to check out TSTI in his new form.

Forgive Me” catch elements of the previous song and have also been featured on Repartiseraren’s own compilation “Whoever Am I”, long before release. It is noticeable how Sid’s (from Schwefelgelb) mastering have affected the song, because it is somewhat different from Zarkoff (who mixed the re-mastered compilation) – so it is very intriguing to hear how different characteristics, in terms of mastering – can be heard in the end product. Since we have a special bond to this song in terms of nostalgia itself, it is hard to not have a personal connection to the song itself, but it lacks in momentum although it is picked together quite good through the atmosphere of the song itself. There is never a dull moment and around the corner there’s a whole different interpretation in itself.

The song has very different characteristics throughout, which is what ultimately makes it different as well as fitting at the same time. Everything runs like clockwork and the time never stops until S. Smith cares to do it himself, by ending on a high note. It’s a very classy song in terms of tone and clarity, where the repetetive lyrics play an integral role to it moving forward at all.

Strange Times” really catches one off-guard. Damn, the first melody is a work of art in itself and from there and on you can’t turn the song off. Had S.U.R.V.I.V.E moved in a different way and taken the help of S. Smith – this is how it would sound like. There’s a certain niceness about the mysticism in the song itself, the sweet touches of synthesizers and not-too-industrial beats make this outstanding synth-pop music. By now, had it been some other album, it probably would’ve dulled off by now. Here’s the part where musicians fall short, oftentimes, if they have an album that goes on for as many songs as “Endings” does. The samples that can also be heard but in another form, on “Naïveté (feat. Jennifer Touch)” take a step into informing the listener – rather then shake the world together with beats.

It is good to hear how the first melody is expanded in the end and clangs out like it should’ve. Not that we’ve heard this song before, but because it is just what is supposed to happen – it is the destiny of this song.

To Visit You Again” is metaphorically speaking the most emotional song so far. Both in message and sound. The longing, the outdrawn beats that scrape against the soundscape and the desperation in the atmosphere that lunge towards you in an instant. It draws upon mutated choirs that between added effects and from high to low notes, add a nicely angelic touch to an otherwise doom and gloom song. It is also the only instrumental song on the whole album. Which is a pleasure to listen through. The repetetiveness of it doesn’t bother at all because it is inventive and make use of the different small touches added to the whole totality of sound. When “Flatter Me” comes on, it is obvious that it is a direct continuation of the aforementioned instrumental song. They share many of the same ambitions in being emotionally touching and direct, together with impervious melodies that never stagnate.

Here though, the melodies are taken into a different direction which both touch upon these elements and create a whole other atmosphere – the intangible nature of TSTI’s sound is one of his strengths. All of a sudden everything is downhill and from there it goes uphill, the emotions come crashing down and the beats develop intensity as they shift from rhythm to rhythm. Very flattering of him to do so.

R.A.S.” never hits home but at the same time does. It is a song filled with paradoxical sound production, with melodies that sound oriental at times and the complete opposite. There’s a shyness and awkwardness about it as a whole, as if he doesn’t want it to bloom out completely – as he holds it even closer. He shapes and unshape things, from rhythms that don’t really make sense to beats that almost put the synthesizer’s wonderful soundscaping out of play. Maybe it is the complete destruction of everything, the ending as it is, even though this certainly isn’t his last contribution in terms of sound as TSTI.

Unfortunately, the remixes of “Things I Would Do“, by Hante and Ssleeping desiresS don’t do the original justice. It is much better and their versions of it aren’t up to par with it, and it doesn’t even create anything tangible from the perspective of making a new version, or something that could possibly stand out in any way, in terms of musicianship.

The album as a whole is a decent thing to listen to. It might even be better then that, though some things are hit and miss – but when it comes down to it, TSTI hones his old sound and develops something new – not necessarily breaking everything down and making the outcome dull and boring. Listen to it in whole down below.

 

 

Spotlight: Liquid Transmitter, Nikmis, None, Palissade

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Midsummer is upon us. A new line of spotlights are due to appear sometime every week. I’ve picked out some new and interesting releases for you all to enjoy. From post-punk to IDM and everything in between that. Everytime I do this, I see what I can find under different categories on Bandcamp – writing about each release that is featured in the article, summarizing the components and recommending it.

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Have you ever dreamt about something ever so vividly exciting, strange or beautiful? Liquid Transmitter’s release “Turn” is turning IDM on its edge, presenting to us a less rhythmic annihilation and more complex atmospheric development. From the introductory “Morning Watch“, to the last one “Uncertain Dusk“, each track is imaginative and explorative. It is as if an artist outlines his visions carefully and break the transgressiveness between genres in an uncanny way. Connecting the dots in every way, both musically and by the titles themselves.

It is finely woven into good electronic music. Slightly drone, more ambient and definently something to be heard. The quirkyness of the melodies add in the personality of this project very well – it’s self-explanatory really when you hear the music. Check it out on Bandcamp and purchase his release there, listen to it in full down below.

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Now here’s a whole soundtrack for you to enjoy. It is really odd music in a way, but perfectly obstinate and neatly created. Nikmis release “Widdendream” on Third Kind Records go forth in its own manner, holding up the banner of experimental electronica in a way – considering the composition of each track, first and foremost. From the cute little first steps of “The Big Fence On The Other Side“, to the more classically-oriented “Embarrasingly Paralell“, each facet of this album have its own sides of it. I think “Tremendous House” capture an oriental vibe and contribute to a summary of everything in Nikmis music that make it stand out in originality.

So if artists and bands alike want to describe something with their music, or capture a feeling, this picturesque wandering between the oddities in synthesizer-based music and the outrageousness of it – make it very easy to follow the story. Instead of capturing something by writing it in lyrics, he manages to break free from that and with instrumental music capture the essence of storytelling anyway. I suggest you check out the album via Third Kind Records, and listen to it in full down below.

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Abstract, frightening and cold. With resounding, repetetive vocals and majestic synthwave – Anna of None deliver a great sounding album, titled “Vacuum“. There is a lot of focus on the bombasticism of the drums in the atmosphere of some of the songs, but it does not take away from the fact that the rest of the instrumentation is equally as good, and thought out. There are serene melodies that encapsulate the hopelessness she is portraying, especially in the aptly titled song “No“. Things develop further in terms of the sound itself in “Faces“, which almost becomes theatralic with the continuous haunting baseline.

She really breaks apart from the dry and stale projects that have been popping up everywhere. Wherever you read post-punk, it either consists of a band trying to ape a style they can’t grasp by inspiration of classic post-punk releases, or the one-man project that doesn’t hold up at all – with them being predictable as ever. The song “Nightmare” really touches on the synthwave this project relies on, giving it great effect and with “Flesh” fulfil the epitome of it. I suggest you check it out, it was released by Black Verb Records and I recommend it of all my heart. Listen to it in full down below.

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Canadians have been providing us with some really good synth-pop, but have they pulled off the post-punk? As of now, Palissade can be considered a contender, with their release “Éclats“. This four-tracked release have beautiful aesthetics in terms of artwork and their music does not lack those aesthetics either. There is a certain focus on the vocalist and more bittersweet melodies then one have heard before, it is not that fast-paced to begin with, as one hears in “La Fin“. Their more alternative and highly melodic way of post-punk is attractive. There is not that much emphasis on the baseline alone, but more on the whole togetherness of everything.

The rhythm stabs and the melodies entwine as one hoped they would. As the layers shift in character, the soundscape looms on steadfastly and “La Vie des Autres” combine the first two songs into one, it feels like. Every song is interesting to listen to and each one of them give off a different emotion. It’s a solid release that I recommend and you should check it out. If you’re interested in wayward but challenging post-punk – this is the release for you. Listen to it in full down below.

 

 

Review: Led Er Est – Dust On Common

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To be honest, I haven’t paid that much attention to Led Er Est at all. Their sound haven’t attracted me in any way, yet I decided to do a track-by-track review of their first release “Dust On Common” (now re-released by Mannequin Records) originally released on the New York label Wierd Records, in 2009. However, my initial reaction on their music will not affect how I review this record – it is all about how good or bad the songs are, individually – and how good the album is in general. The album is around 35 minutes long in total.

For a person that haven’t listened that much to Led Er Est, the first song “Bikini Fun” is catchy and gloomy at the same time. Even though the name of it is kind of inane, it doesn’t reflect in the atmosphere at all – the amped up and bleak vocals add a whole other dimension to the soundscape – together with flipped out guitar-riffs and solid, rhythmic drumming, minimalistic synthesizers warped in and out – together with a baseline that could break through walls – make for a thoroughly wild experience.

There’s a nice way to how they tweak everything, especially the vocals. It is a very nice mix between minimal synth and new wave music, at the same time that it wants to be uptempo and is – they keep the downtempo in terms of how the song progresses – going from a stripped environment to a concentrated barrage of all instruments at the same time. It does also fade out very nicely.

AsPort Isabel” comes on, it is a more straight-forward track. It starts off very good with riffs that are put in well, together with the constant synthesizer-stabs and steady rhythm – but then, suddenly, the vocalist enters – and everything goes downhill from there. What could’ve been an emotionally touching song turns into everything but. Maybe this song should’ve been named “Bikini Fun” instead of the first one – because with such a beautiful name and pleasant introduction – it shouldn’t be reduced to utter tripe. Moving on.

Laredo” thankfully return the original song-style, which pairs much better with their music. It is a very oldschool-sounding and spastic atmosphere, giving back to the roots that started it off once. Minimal wave have never sounded better together with new wave, if that makes any sense. Instead of going too minimalistic with just the one synthesizer and the accompanying melody – they’ve added sweeping beauty to it and a perfectly laden guitar to match it up with.

It never goes out of style and one could listen to it over and over again. The song feels much longer then it really is. With solid melodies and anarchistic vocals – you can go very far, apparently. It is what Led Er Est prooves at least, with how they’ve constructed it musically. “Destination Sanity” is something entirely different, minimal in rhythm but bombastic in everything else from synthesizer to the outdrawn vocals. Connecting the dots where they left off with “Port Isabel“, adding to that even more of their own characteristic sound – the good one.

There are even some gothic-sounding acoustic guitar that paves the way for complex melodies to entwine and push the sound even further, larger then anything else that’s currently been covered. It evokes an emotional response that is sorrowful in one way, a tragicomic farce translated into music, by all means tragicomic in a way that is beautifully told musically. One is touched by the sheer wondrousness of it all, something to daydream away into.

Eerily similar to “Laredo” is the fifth song “The Unkept Area” – where the songstyle in “Port Isabel” actually fits with the running theme of it. One of the most catchy songs so far, mostly due to the more energetic performance by the vocalist, plus all the freakishly quirky synthesizers that would sound horrible if not layered on one another. The desperateness of the singer descend into a violent, chaotic mixture that make each part of the atmosphere change slightly, going more and more berserk.

What becomes noticeable as “Something For The Children” plays, is not only the irony of the song-name itself, but how they transcend genres completely and bend them to their will. This goes into noise and back again into minimalistic synth. But what would all that be without a post-punk baseline? Not sure, but they’ve layered it indistinguishable at points with the screechy noise, at times playing almost solo – giving it a melodic touch – together with the rhythm of the noise. Quite deranged in the end. Even more ironic is how it fades out and then becomes “I Wait For You” – which is different.

How different? In many ways. The rhythm isn’t pumped up to the max, but more steadily going, while the melodies are of secondary importance. The coldness of the minimalistic atmosphere is what glimmers in the dark. Clad in a remorseful outfit, it almost makes it ballad-like in all simplicity. But they way they manage to keep changing everything around, firstly with just a few tweaks here and there, finally breaking out the synthesizer to completely mesmerize the listener. One of my favorite tracks on the whole release so far.

Scissors” is their definitive anthem. It is sad to hear how it goes down the same way that “Port Isabel” did. The vocals really don’t fit, they sound so off together with the wondrousness crafted with the drummachine and the synthesizers. There was an urgency in this song that allured to emotion – but as the vocals make their presence heard – one just wants to turn it off. Otherwise, had it not been like that, it would’ve been a great song. But no, sorry, it simply doesn’t fit with everything else and if anyone suggest it does – sure, it might, but in a very weird and unkempt manner.

CC Exit” is all-in-all a nice medley, intermezzo if you will. A bridge which one would want to cross, to find out what is beyond it. Since I haven’t heard their other, later releases, it’s kind of an obstacle to describe it in relation to one another. But in regards to the album as such it is something that keeps you stunned, and motivated to seek out what comes next. Led Er Est have made an impression with this, first release. I weren’t too interested or thrilled to be listening to their music before, but this album prooves me wrong.

Well worth a buy from Mannequin Records now that they’ve re-released it. Buy it here. Listen to the album in full down below, to make up your own mind about it.

 

 

Premiere: VARSOVIE – Détruire Carthage

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Propaganda straight from Warsaw, with their telecommunications-station based out of France. Building on a concept that draws influences from concrete post-punk and stable new-wave, among other genres. The reason why they’re in any way related to Warsaw is because their band-name is VARSOVIE—the french word for “Warsaw“—capital of Poland. A debut-EP came out in 2006 titled “Neuf Milimètres” (Nine Millimeters), recorded in Grenoble 13eme Etage Studio and Chaosmic Studios. Here’s also where their aesthetic concept got set in motion by the photographer Lucas Rimbaud, which portrayed a woman lying on her back with her feet in the air—maybe relating to the title of the record—Nine millimeters bullet-type, and a gun. Their sound was virtually the same as it is now but a bit more unpolished and maybe also darker. It was also a whole other set-up when it comes to the band’s compound, different members and now there’s a whole other prerequisite for the band.

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They managed to self-release this EP which came out as a CD. Two years passed and there weren’t any new album or proper release during that time—not until September of 2008. A promo-CDr titled “Etat Civil” was released featuring an album with eleven tracks, featuring Nicolas St Morand (Hreidmarr) on backing vocals for “Etat D’Urgence” (State Of Emergency), outro music by the famous late composer Franz Schubert, for the closing song “Inertie” (Inertia). Everything was recorded at Drudenhaus Studio, located in Issé, France, the home of studio engineer Benoît Roux (Anorexia Nervosa). Now the aesthetics have suddenly changed, there’s a woman standing on train-tracks holding two bags—it almost feels like she’s moving away from somewhere, to anywhere. They used a different photographer, Manon Weiser, who’s also helped with his skills for the Velvet Condom box-set “Vanity And Revolt“. A year later a proper release of the same album came out, in December of 2009.

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Six years later their latest album “L’Heure Et La Trajectoire“, was also self-released by the band. Then something happened. A Black-Metal(!) label from France called Those Opposed Records began releasing both “Etat Civil” and their newest album “L’Heure Et La Trajectoire“, in limited editions on black vinyl and colored vinyl. It’s interesting how such a label would ever take interest in VARSOVIE, whilst mainly focusing within black metal. Good for the band. So here we are, they’ve just announced the release of their latest album and everything’s dandy. Well, everything actually is pretty dandy. Repartiseraren have gotten the opportunity to premiere “Détruire Carthage” (Destroy Carthage), a track we’re particularly fond of from the new album. It’s got a rather short running time of around roughly three minutes, but all the ingredients of this fierce post-punk band—all of the energy, the ambitious and dark conditions for a nicely crafted post-punk sound—for you as a listener to stream from here. Enjoy it as much as you can!

Listen: Morthouse – Morthouse

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Oh how Montreal fosters our youth. With music not only from there, but also from the stronghold Toronto – which have given us much prosperous acts – that in turn don’t have to look far and wide to find accomplices. From this city comes a duo whom share the same surname, which makes you wonder if they’re indeed brothers. Thomas L’Allier and Philippe L’Allier are the main characters behind this trio, which gets their drumming lent by Samuel Gemme. He’s the one whom gives them their nice rhythm, although the riffing and the general mood of their tracks suggest a wider conspiracy – where everything needs to be fitted right to create their rather unique sound. Not that anyone else haven’t done it before, but I like the nicely done rhythms that coincide with their wonderfully spooky and melancholic theme that seems to be a re-occuring concept.

Almost a month ago or less, they released their first album which is the self-titled “Morthouse“-release. It’s among the better crossovers between mainly post-punk, alternative rock and goth rock that I’ve heard. Thrown in is the urgent vibe that no-wave creates with its messy undertones that are concocted well together with melodies – which makes this influence far too melodic to have the amelodic overtone that only no-wave can contribute with. Not to mention how they use different instruments in perfect harmony, bringing a dark cabaret touch to their otherwise completely magnificent self-image. Now they’ve also got the cockiness that is needed to really bring forth the funkiness and jazzyness that can be heard between the lines dropped by the brothers. I’m feeling like I’ve been invited to a cabaret and that I can see them behind the scenes. The music is unraveled and I’m instantly intriguied by it as they casually bring forth their more instigated selves. A must-listen for everyone of you at home longing for a proper crossover release and not a kitsch re-interpretation. Listen to the whole album down below.

Exclusive Premiere: Minuit Machine – Agoraphobia (Album Version)

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When everything had settled through the eyes and ears of Hélène De Thoury, she launched a duo together with Amandine Stioui – whose voice had been a wake-up call for Hélène – she adored it. Since 2013 they’ve been working together on shaping their first release, which took them a few months to put out. This self-released EP, called “Blue Moon“, quickly gained a lot of attention and appraisal from those who found out about them. Although their sound can be found somewhere in between the minimal synth and new-wave categories, their rather complex structure and beautifully laden vocals make them unique to genres fond of taking it literally when translating a fixed category into something more. There is a large hint of minimalism in their sound, but all the influences they gather together shape a uniqueness which takes them away from traps that quickly become clichés. With their new-wave sound, enchanting structures and pinpointed melodies – affect you in all the ways they might want you to feel. From the year 2013 to 2014, they’ve worked on their debut-album and now they’re soon ready to unleash it as a whole.

The french label Desire Records are releasing their debut-album “Live & Destroy” will be released on the 6th of October. Before the release, they’re playing live at the french venue La balle au bond, on the 1st of October. On the 30th of November they will go on a tour, hitting countries like Spain, France, Germany and Belgium. I exclusively premiered “Agoraphobia (Album Version)“, a track which is what I consider to be the beating heart of their record. This track is so emotional and delivers a whole other insight to what minimal synth can sound like, when transformed by other genres which overlap or have less to do with a genre like synth-pop. I think it is their strength and it sounds like they’ve worked hard on every single track. Let this be the anthem that will carry you away and put you into the mood for listening to “Live & Destroy”. Look out if you want to buy it, because soon it will be available from Desire Records. Stream the exclusive track down below.