Best track: starchaser
click album cover to listen
2020 is over and we all know it, but for the synthwave community it is far from being finished! And it is up to us to showcase the brilliance from within it through thick and thin. You’d be hard pushed to find someone that doesn’t like what comes out of the French synthwave community, and there is one in particular I want to put the spot light on. Let me introduce you to ‘Orkla Drive’ who has just burst his way on to my headphones with his new EP titled ‘Orkla Drive’…how do they come up with this stuff?! We’re treated to four brand new tracks as well as three of his older pieces as a sort of golden handshake. But I should alert you to the fact that this review concentrates on the four new tracks only.
One of the first insights I’d like to take from my inner-monologue is that ‘Orkla Drive’ is literally the birth child of ‘Dynatron’ and ‘Lazerhawk’. ''How ??'' you might ask…well in truth I don't really know how to explain the amalgamation but let me describe in few words what you’ll fine throughout this pretty EP and then you can make up your own minds. Firstly, there is a strong and steady booming drum kick in abundance and to accompany it is a wonderfully powerful and fully engrossing brass synth. I also noticed, and again try to stick with me here...the melodies are story tellers.
'Golden Valley' opens this EP with an array of ticking clock sounds that don’t give anything away in terms of musical direction. All of a sudden, I’m jumping out of my skin as the ticking quickly gives way to a slow and mighty bass drum with a lot of echo on it, then joined by an epic harmony on a lead synth for the next 2 minutes. It has a real dark edge to it with negative connotations. It all may sounds like an intro to you, and it might be one, but it has part to play in gently yet mysteriously leading us to the second track called titled '2041'…which isn’t that far in the future you know! Why is everyone assuming that our future is destined to be one big struggle?! Anyone?!
Those compelling drums burst in and pierce through the tense choice of synths creating a truly palpable atmosphere. We’re only two tracks in and already it’s abundantly clear that they come as one to really engage the listener by providing a grandeur cinematic dimension to this EP. I’m quite sure I won't be the only one having flashbacks from the earlier ‘Terminator’ movies as I am listening to ‘Orkla Drive’. If you don’t agree with me, then heck, cast your mind to the car chase scene that starts in the car park. Why not go one step further and start the video on mute and play '2041' over it and see what happens. It works an absolute charm! Albeit it with a synthesizer that sounds a little more in tune than the one used back in the 80s.
If you’re still with me at this stage, refrain from hitting the stop button on the video and let the next track kick on called 'Starchaser', which happens to be the best song on this EP. It has the best level of production and is quite similar in style and tone to ‘Galactic Justice’ by ‘Rogue Neon’ and ‘Broken Tone’ by ‘Occams Laser’. I can tell you this with confidence, back in the 80’s, the Hollywood bigwigs would have snapped your hands off to have had this track available to them and it would have found itself on the big screen in some form of sci-fi blockbuster. Perhaps when time travel is invented, that’ll be the first thing I go back to do instead of betting on the results of the ‘Grays Sports’ almanac in ‘Back to The Future part 2’. I’m a little different to the rest of you!
The last of the four new tracks 'Midnight' acts as an outro but if feels like this is just the beginning of something much bigger to come. And as long as you don’t have a pair of substandard headphones, any fans of it will really appreciate the guitar work in the background. This track has the potential to bring up a whole bunch of different scenarios and pictures to your minds depending on the listener and only you can decide which destiny you feel is most appropriate for the four tracks. As much as it was a good deed to throw in the bonus three tracks from previous efforts, it has a drawback in that the entire structure of the EP. And with it the story, is somewhat lost in this sudden change of sound and direction. It’s pretty clear that these tracks were an entirely different project that ran out of steam. All I can say is, rather than putting them here as an add-on, you actually had something quite gripping here and the opportunity may have been lost to brush yourself down and commence working on creating another story with them.
All in all, this very good EP that manages to capture an audience with so few tracks which can be tough work. ‘Orkla Drive’ doesn't lose itself in a barrage of overbearing sounds and synths, it goes straight to the point of storytelling. Sometimes, all it needs is a gripping melody. At other times, it can simply be the ambience that does all the work for you. I’d say this is an EP that requires the listener to close their eyes and engage the mind by envisioning the foundations of the short story; the characters, the location and the setting. And it’s made quite easy here through quality production, tense build-ups and an overall dissenting tone. It might not be a pretty story, but it’s your story.
Oh go on then! Here’s the quickest ever review for the bonus tracks. As I mentioned earlier 'Tomowski', 'Ryan NYP' and 'Iron Eagle' have been added to the EP as a kind gesture, but it's obvious that they belong to another type of work from ‘Orkla Drive’. Here the tempo has been blasted up a notch than on anything we heard in the previous four tracks and as for the synths…well, they’ve been set from ‘stun’ to ‘kill’ so they have a lot more kick to them. What I will say however is these three tracks confirm even more the overwhelming potential of ‘Orkla Drive’. Stay tuned for part two of the story. 8/10 morgan perrot
a visual representation of the album:
if you're in to this, you'll also like:
dynatron, lazerhawk, judge bitch, neon nox and rogue neon.