Urban Distortions head honcho Massimo Luciano, here under his Slaker pseudonym, presents his debut album "The Transition"; 8 tunes of analog adventurism that will propel you into realms filled with haunting atmospheres and soundscapes that push the boundaries of synthetic experimentation without hesitation. This is pure artistry with a visionary approach! Let's begin.
The album opens up with "Synth-etik", a cold tune that reminds me of some of the old school gems from the early to mid 90's. I can tell for the artist and his label, this is an important aesthetic to promote, as in previous releases; one by Riuozami which we reviewed, I found the same general vibe within the music I heard. Here, beginning the adventure across The Transition, a slower tempo, somewhere around 100 BPMs kicks things off, soon welcoming you by eerie synth sweeps; both melodic and abstract that sound to me a bit like getting lost in "Suicide Forest" in Japan. A feeling almost of being haunted by the souls of all those in despair who came here for one last rendezvous with nature and their own crippling life.
Next up, the tempos stay about the same here with "Analog Dream", but the vibe begins to shapeshift some, getting a bit more daring, going from cold to desolate and almost uninviting. Something I am finding the more I listen to Slaker's music, is that there is a common theme in the textures he creates. Analog and warm, undeniably, but also slightly digital and cold. However, the mystique in the worlds he is able to create is really something to behold. You won't hear music like this very often. The melodies here seem to taunt me, as if some force was enticing me to follow it somewhere. Hinting at what it is, but in a sense making itself unknown, sinister and mysterious. This is not cliche Electro music folks, very unique and thorough.
Next up, slightly devious and acidic "Network Control" gets a bit friendlier, the melodies warmer and a bit more smooth. The sequencing is complex, rich and alluring, painting colors in your mind without regret. The tempos still remain about the same, rhythms similar to the last couple, but this isn't a bad thing. I actually like that it gives me time to consume all that I am hearing without the often frantic energies you find in a lot of Electro Bass tunes. This is almost like Downtempo Electro music with a bit of attitude and funk.
Moving along, we find "Self-Updated System", getting a bit tougher, with a slight B-Boy flare as sonic squirms saturate the space you'll find in this intriguing tune full of mysterious drones and pads. The next one, "Analog Addicted" gets even more into the B-Boy styles as this futuristic Electro Funk tune displays tons of attitude with the forward-thinking spacey vibes we find throughout this magnificent album. The bassline here reminds me of some of the works found on German imprint Dominance Electricity, oozing with sawtooth waveforms, aggressive but warm to the touch and working in tandem with a gleaming step sequence that grows on you the more you listen to it. Top tune, my favorite so far I think!
As we get closer to the end of the album, we find "Lost In Transition", a cold, lonely song that sounds exactly as it claims....to be lost in transition! Deep in the edges of space, isolated and confused. The synths here bend and morph in and out of time, creating an unfriendly vibe that is not very melodic in a classic sense, but more in a way that reminds me of the works by Soul Oddity. Like an alien language attempting to communicate, or perhaps what melodic arrangements sound like in other planets. This song is pure genius!
Next, the "Album X" mix of "Quite Unstable"; previously having the original version featured on Urban Distortions' "Napoli Underground Files v.01" compilation, is presented here in a fairly similar fashion, a bit longer, giving you a little more time to take in the incredible programming and arrangements. More and more I am starting to see such a resemblance between Slaker and one of my old time favorites, the above mentioned duo Soul Oddity. What I love is not just that Slaker continues that trend of abstract composition that sounds as if made by an extraterrestrial race, but also that there is the added classic synth arrangements that were a missing component in the Florida duo's music in my opinion. Lovely stuff!
Last, the album closes with "Acid Rain Encounter". I have to say that if you are expecting fast dance music in this album, it may not be for you. However, I really appreciate the deviation from typical tempos, and giving me the opportunity to soak in such amazing sonic adventures that saturate my mind slowly, allowing me to digest it all, taking it all in as I said earlier. This tune here is no exception to the ingenuity of Massimo Luciano's work, the odd vibes still remain, but brassy synths, a bit like the kind you hear in the movie Blade Runner, give this song a bit of a nostalgic feel, balancing things out very well. Perhaps Slaker's biggest strength is the sequencing and sound design: intelligent, complex textures that offer lots of depth and detail. Already one of my favorite artists!
If you are looking for truly challenging, adventurous, unique, yet nostalgic Electronica music, influenced clearly by the Electro Funk and Bass styles, then this CD album is a no brainer, an absolute must have! The presentation not just musically, but in the packaging is something else too, offering a wonderful illustration on the cover, high quality jacket, and a "vinyl" look disc in red. Attention to detail all over this release. Highly recommended by Electric Kingdom.