Fresh American synth-wizardry from Austin, Texas. Xander Harris knows his electronic history and clearly loves a good John Carpenter soundtrack, and he feeds all his experience into California Chrome, his new full-length on Rock Action. The drum machines are big and the synth melodies are bright: there is much dancing to be done.
7/10 Laurie Staff review, 21 September 2016
Looks like it’s been a while since Texan gloomsynth head Justin Sweatt aka Xander Harris released a full length, but lo and behold he’s crawled out of his cockpit, hair all matted, and is putting something out, on Rock Action no less. Well I never.
This is 80s horror music that John Carpenter and his Death Waltz cronies would gargle hungrily at. Sweatt clearly has a veritable arsenal of synths and drum machines, pushing them to cyber zombie stomp-level til you’re marching along all red-eyed and bleeping. Imagine if Eurythmics were stuck in that pub in Shaun of the Dead but Annie Lennox had been carried off by the hordes. “She’s gone. We can’t save her. Fire up that 808, I’ve just thought of a great drum line.” Speaking of which, some great machine action on the fierce ‘Basilisk Stare’.
It’s decidedly banging; I was not expecting anything this upbeat and danceable from Xander Harris. The trouble is the trouble that I find with most nostalgic synth music - there isn’t a whole lot to separate it from its origin, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, just puts us in a weird time loop where culture repeats a little too closely. I guess there’s a sort of Italo disco influence here, but oh my gad it’s so 80s, I gotta take a break and post a tweet or something. That’s what my generation does, right?
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- California Chrome by Xander Harris
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