Synthia is a multi-genre electronic project from Cheltenham in the UK. I first came across Synthia earlier this year while cruising the Twitter-verse for something new to listen to. Synthia has released a three singles and two full-lengths this year. Talk about busy! I’ll be reviewing their second full-length entitled “First of Us.”

The cover of “First of Us” features some pixel art of an android that is very reminiscent of early 1990s SNES visuals. The android appears to be making some kind of vogue pose amidst a backdrop of a 1980s motif of pastel colored lasers. If Isaac Asimov and Olivia Newton John decided to collaborate on artwork together it would probably look something like this. I quite enjoy it.

Musically, I find “First of Us” to be fascinating. It is very…unique. I’m not sure whether this is a function of the production method that was used to create these songs or what. “First of Us” has an airy grit to it that make little ghosts come out of the speakers on my stereo. This is probably because many of the sounds on this album sit within the 1kHz to 5kHz range (or higher).

There are elements of Synthwave that show up in Synthia’s work but I also think that it has a more postmodern feel to it. I think this is a function of how it is musically arranged. “First of Us” wasn’t produced to sound like it came from 1980s despite having some similar sounds which intersect with that era. A lot of the drums sound like an Oberheim DX which are undoubtedly 80s sounding, but the low end sounds more modern on most of the tracks. The only exception I found to this was in the song “Lucid” which has a more traditional Synthwave tone to it. Even then, I feel like “Lucid” has more in common with music that would’ve been written on the YM2612 for the Megadrive rather than a song that might show up on “Miami Vice.” The pads that Synthia use to create space feel confined in a way that reminds me of pop from the early 1990s. The mids in this recording are akin to late 90s. There’s also an early 2000s EDM feel to aspects of “First of Us” giving it a crunchy bitcrushed sound.

Overall, “First of Us” is like a mash up between 90s video game/chiptune music, Synthwave, and something else. I can’t put my finger on it. After listening to it several times over the last week it really grew on me. I think if you’re feeling adventurous and want to listen to something completely different than the norm, Synthia is worth checking out. I really enjoyed the hell out of this one once I got to know it.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People looking for something a little different, fans of Chiptune, Synthwave, and EDM might find something to love here.

Stand-out tracks: “Darkwave,” “Transistor,” “Lucid,” and “Slasher” (ARE YOU NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD UNDER THERE–LIKE ALL BLOODY VEINS AND PUS?).

Album Color Profile: #6666FF

“arisTotal” marks the first formal release from Finnish industrial rockers The Fair Attempts. From the moment I pressed play I was immediately surprised by the quality and sheer catchiness that TFA bottled up into this criminally short EP. “arisTotal” boasts something that’s a bit of a rarity in electronic music in the post-Synthwave era, and that’s vocals. We’re talking, verse, pre-chorus, chorus delivery. While I understand how polarizing vocals can be for most listeners nowadays, I really wish more electronic musicians would go this route. Because unlike most producers who live and die by the instrumental, TFA demands that you listen to it. This is NOT neo-elevator music that you can put on in the background while playing Counterstrike. And because of this, fans of legitimate gothic infused industrial rock are in for absolute treat with this debut EP.

The lyrics are masterfully written. And I guarantee that they will stick with you like an earworm that won’t quit. I’m not ashamed to say, but I was headbanging in my kitchen the first time I heard “Blowback.” It’s catchy as hell, just like the rest of “arisTotal.” To me, this EP should be hailed as an industrial rock classic:

“So what do you say
When your future and your past fornicate?
They make you who you are today
Two wrongs don’t make one right, they say
But I’ll nail you to your cross anyway”
(Excerpt from “Blowback” by The Fair Attempts)

TFA understand the audience they are going for. I love it so much.

When I was in high school I listened to A LOT of The Kovenant , Marilyn Manson, and Mortiis (era 2). So as you could imagine I was something of an industrial Hot Topic type of goth rocker myself–black eyeliner and all. If The Fair Attempts were around back then I have no doubt that I would’ve thrown their CD into my car’s stereo and blasted it in the high school parking lot, much to the annoyance of all the emo kids cutting themselves to Simple Plan two cars over.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Peeps who love catchy industrial rock. If you dig Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, The Kovenant, Ram-Zet, Mortiis, or Psyborg Corp, there is something here for you.

Stand-out tracks: Bad Battery (my personal fav), Blowback, A Day of Concern

Album Color Profile #009999

You can find all things The Fair Attempts at: https://thefairattempts.bandcamp.com/

The first time I heard of ZITH was way back at the end of 2018. A close friend of mine from St. Louis introduced me to a track entitled “Altered Flesh.” It took me by complete surprise. I was looking forward to hearing more. A little over half a year later ZITH dropped the bomb that is their first full length–“NATUS EX MACHINA.” The production quality of this album is top-tier. It’s crystal clear, tight, and knows exactly what it’s trying to accomplish. And then there’s the bass. ZITH is all about it.

There’s something that separates “NATUS EX MACHINA” from all of the other music in my current rotation–it’s transcendent and inoffensive. I think that this release will appeal to practically everybody who enjoys electronic music. At times ZITH’s first outing is extremely danceable, but not at the detriment of it’s overall aesthetic.

The bottom line? ZITH is one of those projects that isn’t easily classified by one genre of electronic music. Instead ZITH has taken a little bit of everything that the so-called greats have done over the past decade and created a fresh listening experience. So you like dark synth? ZITH is dark synth. Outrun? ZITH is outrun. EDM? ZITH is EDM. Dubstep? ZITH is dubstep.
It’s fairly clear to me that the mastermind behind ZITH is something of an audiophile, because “NATUS EX MACHINA” just begs to be played on a high-end audio system. I’m really looking forward to hearing more from ZITH in the future. I think there’s something really special here that deserves to be noticed.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who love Dark Synth, Dubstep, Outrun/Synthwave, EDM.

Stand-out tracks: FALL APART (the best track on the album), ALTERED FLESH, OVERRIDE (evoking those Carpenter Brut TURBO KILLER feels), I AM YOUR FUTURE

Album Color Profile #CC00CC:

You can find all things ZITH at https://zith.bandcamp.com/