The Synthwave Radioshow
'the Jenkins house'
Best track: killing
click album cover to listen
'The Jenkins House' is the 9th album by Morgan Willis, but the 6th synthwave compilation in his ever-growing catalogue. 19 tracks have been laid before us, which seems like a lot right? He's really been smashing out the releases since 'Sophie Teenage Dream' in 2017 and one might think that the quality of each album might be hindered by such an effort.
However, Morgan has massively delivered with this one! Overall this is a different direction to 'Stay The Night' and 'Supernova' from 2018. This is an atmospherically-haunting piece albeit with a couple of upbeat moments.
Make no mistake though, this is as dark as Mr Willis has gone...and it's chilling right down to the core baby! We open with 'Witches', a revert-to-type progression that we have come to expect on each Morgan Willis release. 'Shallow' enteres with some profoundly booming bass notes throughout which gives the track a very supernatural feel.
'Hide' was released as the first single from the album and features the first proper vocals. It has a bit of a modern 'David Guetta' feel to it. Don't gasp before I've had a chance to explain myself! What I mean is, If Mr Guetta were to make a track like this, it would inevitably go to number one. My point being is that this is a track that belongs on the airwaves and would fit on to any of the playlists of the 'go-to' radio stations.
We move on to the track titled 'Killing' and f**k me what a beaut! try to imagine a soundtrack created simply to accompany the word 'killing'. You're left with this creation. it's darksynth to the max, ominously progressive and the tempo change half-way through is a real fist punch. Might I suggest to any spin-class fanatics that you add this to the soundtrack to your sweat-fest...
'Death Road Act.1 and Act.2' came as a suprise. You would usually assume a two-parter, part two simply following on from where part one faded out, but no. They are completely independent from one another and make for 9 minutes of fast-tempo, high-octane fiery goodness. Our ears also bear witness to a scrumptious build up and beat drop that doesn't fall flat on its arse. EDM-ers take note, THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT! I wonder if we'll hear these in the next 'Mad Max' movie?
It almost feels exhausting listening to so many full-bodied tracks. I feel like I can't relax simply because of everything that's going on. Fortunately there are a couple of interludes that allow us to get that drink of water and recharge our batteries. 'Adventure Of' and 'Interference' give us that quick breather before the next bout of insanity, and 'Stranger' is also a soft vocal piece, but it's a fairly forgettable track. And just so we know it's a pure-bred synthwave album, it starts with the inserting of a cassette in it's player...it's basically a sure-fire way to prove the existence of retro-ness in your work!
A favourite of mine is 'Escape From The Darkness' and for any fans of 'Stranger Things', it might make it onto your list of faves too! What we have here ladies and gentlemen is a set of tracks that penetrate to the core. Morgan Willis never appears to over-complicate things, sticking to a finite number of synths, tones and basslines and making some minor tweaks to generate different emotions throughout. Some artists fall in to the trap of attempting to house lots of different subgenres of synthwave and this can often make a compilation feel direction-less and a bit messy. Covering all the bases is certainly not a requirement in this genre!
It certainly doesn't look as though Mr Willis is slowing down. The differences between 'Sophie Teenage Dream' and 'The Jenkins House' are massive, and suggest that Morgan is full of ideas, each one brimming with confidence and linear story-telling. And the best bit about it all? We probably only have to wait a few more weeks until the next release! What a bloody lovely guy eh? Though this album doesn't quite hit the heights of 'Supernova' for me, it does instill chills throughout and I cannot express the importance of listening to this compilation through a decent set of headphones. You DO NOT want to miss out on those panther-like basslines! 8.5/10 joe ward