Javarnanda’s ‘Archeosynth’ // Review by Liam Emsa*
Javarnanda describes his album Archeosynth as “music inspired by Ancient History, Prehistory, Myths and Mysteries.” For someone tackling a genre that itself aspires to recreate a feeling of the past (albeit thirty years ago instead of two thousand), it certainly seems like a unique venture to try and create a synthwave album that attempts to blend the style of synthwave with inspirations of something quite long ago. Does he succeed, or does Icarus fly too close to the sun? That’s what I will attempt to answer.
Listening to this album made me think about the times I’ve tried culinary dishes that attempt to combine two foods that don’t normally go together. Like bacon and chocolate, or lobster and popcorn, combining two foods that aren’t normally paired can either give you a new and interesting taste that you’ve never had before or produce an awful and disgusting taste that you never want to experience again.
I will say that, if it’s anything, this album is certainly interesting. After reading the description, I didn’t know what to expect. The first track, Flood, came on, and I listened. After a slow build, a driving snare, like an industrial press, comes in pounding, followed by a funky bassline and a synth that evokes a tribal sound. It’s a fascinating combination of different sounds and feelings, but, does it work? At first listen, it was a bit jarring. I was taken aback and ready to write it off as a combination that failed. I came in expecting a standard synthwave album with a standard synthwave sound, and this definitely isn’t a standard synthwave album.
But then I came back and gave it a second listen, and it was then it finally connected with me. There is a feeling there, created through the synths, of a much more distant time. Whether it’s the tribal sound of Flood or the driving rhythm of Ararat, each makes an attempt to transport you back in time, much further than the usual synthwave release. Some of the songs (in this case, specifically, Pathway) reminded me of 80s fantasy movies. In fact, I know it’s one in particular, but I can’t remember it for the life of me. It’s going to keep me up at night trying to remember.
Is this album perfect? No. Like any risk, there are a few missteps along the way. There’s nothing here that’s an outright smash single that grabs you by the ears as soon as you hear it, but, overall, it’s a success. Like a meal, you have to take some time to digest it first. The snares are crisp, the synths are layered, and the basslines are amazingly funky. It’s a fascinating experiment in using the style that we’ve associated with the a retrofuturist 80s aesthetic and applying it to a different age. Javarnanda describes himself as someone who “loves museums.” I can only imagine that he drew his inspiration from various exhibits in his local one, trying to figure out how to use his knowledge of synthwave to evoke the feelings of those. Hopefully more producers look to take those risks in the future. One to add to your collection.
Favorite Track: Ararat
Final Grade: B+
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