The Synthwave Radioshow
'eye of the storm'
Best track: come alive
click album cover to listen
It's here - the hotly awaited second album from Helsinki's young buch', Ace - and it's rather great. Present here are previous releases including the huge breakout collab with Anna Moore, 'Come Alive' (one of my favourite singles of 2019); 'Secret' with Primo the Alien - which displays one of her best vocals; 'Never Surrender' with Gryff complementing Ace's skill for melody with a high energy lyric dying to be contextualised by an 80's karate montage; and the instrumental 'Mizukage Prototype'.
Opener 'Into The Fray' sets things up with what we already knew of Ace shining through, his signature keytar dazzling the track - like he is stood atop a mountain summoning the synth gods to adore him or strike him down; he even ends the tune with a self-knowing crackle of thunder to punctuate the point. I guess he won.
With his sophomore long-player we also get to hear more variation in Ace's musical palette - not only the cyber-outrun of 'Mizukage Prototype', but mallwave funk in 'Penthouse Hideaway' and late-night retrowave cool in 'No One's Watching' - which showcases that sexy sax - uncredited on Bandcamp, so I would love to know who is blowing the horn throughout. Meanwhile 'Seafront Rendevouz' is part end-of-game sequence (is that a tiny chipwave bleep I hear at one point?) part yacht-wave chic.
In-jokes and displays of the wit and satire we've seen in Ace's video and streamed performances accepted as part of the package, Ace is clearly a producer of high standards. He fills each moment of a track with a killer melody, an ear-catching bassline, a well-placed synth-twinkle, or by employing unusual percussion such as in another standout for me, 'Break The Cycle'.
At 38 minutes, the album feels slight but punchy - all bangers, no mash if you will. It whizzes along and rewards an instant replay. If you bought most of the singles upon release, you may yearn for a little more, in terms of a surprise collab or a longer record. But in Ace's determination to keep the quality high, I suspect he would rather put out a 'greatest hits' meets new instrumentals than load it with tracks that he didn't consider up to standard.
All in all, an impressive second album, and I hope that he still has an 'Ace' up his sleeve and drops a collab EP in the Autumn that takes a new turn in the self-proclaimed king of keytar's story. Rob Dyson 8/10
a visual representation of the album:
if you're in to this, you'll also like:
team sweatwave, millennium Falck, the motion epic, ace marino and osc