Glitch Black (a play on words to “Pitch Black”) is a prolific darksynth/synthwave producer who hails from Seattle, Washington. He’s most notably known for visual live performances, his Tron-inspired outfit, and all-around great sounding future aesthetics. Glitch Black is the type of producer who makes even the most timid among us want to hit the dance floor in a cyberpunk catharsis of joy. His latest album is entitled “Mechanical Perfection.” It was released on July 9th, 2020.

On the cover of “Mechanical Perfection” is a very familiar image of Glitch Black’s cybernetic egregore. Keeping in line with all of his previous major album releases, the artwork features an intense black and grey color scheme that is wildly accentuated with neon red. I feel that this image fits in well with the sci-fi vibe of the album.

Even though all of the songs here are all cut from the same cloth there’s quite a bit of variation throughout this album. The first half pulls a lot of influence from early 2000s aggrotech and late 2000s European hardstyle. “Binary Overlord” is a great example of this—although this artistic choice isn’t entirely limited to that song. There is also a slight gothic EDM flavor to “Mechanical Perfection.” This is largely aided by the album’s constant grating low end, non-traditional arpeggios (at least for darksynth), and popping upbeat percussion. “Mechanical Perfection” is slightly experimental for Glitch Black as he actively explores challenging tempo changes, without over-saturating the music with too much repetition. For example, in “Shock Troopers” he ends the song with a completely new section that doesn’t repeat. It sort of reminds me of what Slayer pulled on “God Hates Us All” by adding odd little riffs to the end of songs. The primary difference here is that Glitch Black does it with a sleek and concise style.

Overall, “Mechanical Perfection” is an enjoyable listen. All of the songs here are cold on the outside, kind of like a metal endoskeleton, but once you start understanding the vibe of the album there’s a lot of life here. “Shock Troopers” is definitely my favorite track off of the album. It’s energetic, slightly evil sounding, and all around really goddamn cyberpunk. I kept getting these visuals of some kind of paramilitary squad like in “The Raid: Redemption” kicking doors down in the name of some power hungry corporate magnate. Other highlights include the sleeper hit “Binary Overlord,” the glitchy metal infused “Onslaught,” and the slower tempoed “Dark Future.”

RECOMMENDED FOR: Darksynth warriors looking for something new from a familiar darksynth personality. I think people who are into Cybergoth might actually like this too. I’m not ashamed to say that I danced to “Binary Overlord” several times by myself in my living room.

Stand-out tracks: “Shock Troopers,” “Dark Future,” “Onsalught,” “Grit,” “Binary Overlord,” (HUMANZ!)

Album Color Profile: #B71C1C

You can find all things Glitch Black at https://glitchblack.bandcamp.com/

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/