Occams Laser – New Blood II (2020)

Occams Laser is the darksynth project of UK producer Tom Stuart. Mr. Stuart may be a full-time dad, but don’t let that fool you, he still has time to be prolific as hell when it comes to creating music. Since 2014 he has produced twenty-five releases celebrating all things dark and retro.

“New Blood II” is Occams Laser’s latest album featuring ten tracks of cinematic, epic, and heavy darksynth. This is something of a concept album continuing the story started in Occams Laser’s “New Blood” album from 2018. “New Blood II” is centered around our final love affair with technology through the medical over use of synthetic “new blood.” Long story short, the “new blood” begins to overtake humanity through some sentient kind of infection. As a result an already dystopian society begins to spiral out of control. Talk about going from bad to worse. The very red cover art (also by Stuart) is both suitable to the subject matter and also quite gorgeous to look at. It features a buff street samurai, a sexy android, standing in front of slightly photo realistic city. It really fucking pops.

Musically, “New Blood II” is somewhat, but not entirely similar to mainline darksynth acts such as Carpenter Brut and Perturbator. This is cinematic and dark instrumental music that demands your attention from the moment you press play. There is a liberal use of the soft-clipped “French” bass that’s often found in this type of darksynth. I don’t think that Occams Laser uses it too much though. He makes excellent use of it where it counts, in songs intended to be total bangers. Which in this case is put on full display in both “Breakneck” and “Arterial Motive.” One thing that I feel separates Occams Laser from the wide majority of other darksynth producers is how clean his sound is. “New Blood II” is very well produced. It sounds shiny, and I can hear most everything that it has to offer. This is very often aided by longer instrumental sections of music that are completely devoid of drums. To it’s advantage, “New Blood II” is able to fully explore the bigger picture of his music through this method by giving his music time to breathe. Both “Scarlett,” and the intro track “Bloodshot” stand as examples of how this works for the album.

Almost all of the songs from “New Blood II” feature titles that center around redness and blood. In my mind’s eye, I definitely picture the color red whilst listening to this. As a synesthete this makes “New Blood II” a little different than what I’m used to listening to. It’s somewhat rare that the theme of an album connects with a singular color, shares that color on the cover art, and the music also sounds like that color.

Overall, “New Blood II” is a very pleasant listen. A lot of care went into this album with that in mind. This will widely appeal to listeners familiar and unfamiliar with Occams Laser. In an over-flooded ocean of darksynth and synthwave artists who struggle to find their exact niche, “New Blood II” stands as a fine example of what happens when an artist successfully accomplishes exactly what they set out to do.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of well-produced darksynth. If you like Carpenter Brut or Perturbator you’ll dig this.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Arterial Motive” (best track), “Breakneck,” “Exsanguination.”

Album color profile: #B71C1C

You can find all things Occams Laser at https://occamslaser.bandcamp.com/

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