Void Stare is a cyberpunk influenced dark synth project from Australia. It features the vocalist from Brisbane’s black ambient metallers Spire. “Zero One” tells the tale of an “omniprescent dark force” that either traverses through or exists simultaneously in multiple locations. These locations in “Zero One” are all cyberpunk or science fiction related. Each one is given a track, which is a really cool idea for a concept album. It reminds me a bit of the Loc-Nar from the movie Heavy Metal (1981).
The first time I spun “Zero One” I didn’t get it. And I suspect that the majority of people who give this album a go will be in the same boat. THAT SAID–“Zero One” isn’t your garden variety type of darksynth that exploits the listener by using major scales or their relative minor scales to inject the music with “feels.” This album is purposely engineered with the intention of satisfying listeners looking to be confronted with something a little different.
For the most part, “Zero One” is instrumental with the exception of two really cool moments with “Soldier (A Martian Death)” and “Seethe (Trapped in Obsidian Eyes).” Other songs like “Crusader (Perfect Heresy Machine) feature what sounds like Mongolian throat singing. Structurally, all of the songs are fully fleshed out explorations that avoid using the traditional verse, prechourus, chorus structure. There’s a noise element to this album that adds to the album’s atmosphere. At times, “Zero One” reminded me a lot of the live action Ghost in the Shell (2017) soundtrack, but I think it tends to be a bit more bleak. Other times I felt small traces of Tangerine Dream (think “Phaedra” and “Rubycon”) sneak into Void Stare’s work. Keep in mind though that this has a more postmodern sound to it production wise.
“Zero One” is sophisticated darksynth in the same way that Emperor’s “IX Equilibrium” is sophisticated black metal. You are going to hear something new every time you give this album a spin. With that in mind—ask yourself: how many darksynth artists are capable of creating a similar experience?
Overall, Void Stare isn’t in the business of creating music that is easy to listen to. Don’t expect bass drops with “Zero One.” This is NOT a melodic, lead driven dark synth album. The first couple of times I listened to “Zero One” I missed so many small details that make this release really fucking good. It is an album that will attack any preconceptions of what you’d like to think darksynth should sound like. “Zero One” has a challenging repertoire of songs that are dangerously catchy once you are prepared to understand exactly what it is that it is doing.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Listeners who want to be challenged, folks who like something a little darker, people who like music that takes risks.
Stand-out tracks: “Rachel (Suffer by Design)” (aka the fucking best track, I love this one), “Decomissioned (Abandon the Protodome),” “Tannhauser Gate (N6maa10816),” “Crusader (Perfect Heresy Machine)”
Album Color Profile: #C62828