Once upon a time, when I was much younger, a lot more naive, I occasionally came across weird little albums that I can only describe as “experimental.” There are a few artists who come to mind: Throbbing Gristle, Master/Slave Relationship, Tangerine Dream, and Stars of the Lid to name a few. To me, there are a few hallmarks that make a music project experimental:

  1. It doesn’t easily fit into any genre or category.
  2. It’s just weird or somewhat difficult to “get.”
  3. Experimental isn’t necessarily musical.

Armageddon Speaking (of Ontario) is a music project that fits into this experimental framework. I was first exposed to them after reviewing Leifendeth’s “Narrow Escapism.” Armageddon Speaking did a fascinating remix of “Not Again” for that EP which stood out as one of the most anomalous and experimental tracks on that release.

Something that really impresses me about Armageddon Speaking is how long it’s been around (in some form). There are fledgling tracks that go all the way back to 2000 back when FL Studio 2.0/3.0 was a thing. And while Armageddon Speaking only formally became much more active around 2014 it can’t be overstated how exciting it is to be able to experience an artist who has been in the electronic scene far before many of us were just a glimmer in its eye. I mean, what the heck were you doing in 2000? I was playing black metal! I digress…

Armageddon Speaking’s latest is entitled “Theory of Time Travel.” It was released on August 14th, 2020.

The cover art for “Theory of Time Travel” is near abstract featuring a blood red color with darker hues of midnight blue that are reminiscent of looking at an infrared universe in reverse. To me, the red color here represents the hidden esoteric energy of vast deep space. In the upper right hand corner I feel as though this represents some sort of planet filled to the brim with life, but devoid of ethics and spirit. Towards the bottom there appears to be some darker writing that reminds me of the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings. I’m pretty sure that’s not what it is though. This album cover is mysterious and cold. It fits in well with what Armageddon Speaking is accomplishing with “Theory of Time Travel.”

In terms of how “Theory of Time Travel” sounds, well, as mentioned before, this is an experimental album. The backbone of this album’s character lies in how un-musical it is. There’s no “beats,” “drops,” “breakdowns,” or “melodies.” There is an overarching theme to this album, however. And it is reprised over and over again in many different forms during the course of the record. This theme serves as the glue that binds “Theory of Time Travel” together filling the gaps between what sometimes feels like near silence with a spacey forward momentum that can only occur in experimental music.

It’s pretty clear that “Theory of Time Travel” wasn’t so much painstakingly composed as it was “captured.” There’s a very modular feel to this album that creates an organic analogue sort of atmosphere that feels good to experience. This is type of album that I could meditate to. It has a calming vibe that takes me to some far-flung nebula when I close my eyes. “Theory of Time Travel” is like listening to a visual artist paint, using each stroke to crawl towards some sort concealed apotheosis that never fully feels resolved. This is an album that accepts the fact that change is one of the indisputable and inevitable existential truths, while arguing that time itself is arbitrary to that process.

Of the tracks available here, I feel that it would be a disservice to Armageddon Speaking’s vision for “Theory of Time Travel” by recommending tracks that stand out here. To me, I feel that “Theory of Time Travel” is best experienced as a whole, rather than five individual tracks. I think that “Theory of Time Travel” has the type of sound that won’t be easily identified as being released in 2020 if someone happens to stumble upon it in the distant future. It has a timeless sound that harkens back to electronic “music” from the late 1970s. In general, when it comes to Armageddon Speaking, I think that their tagline “music from the future,” is accurate. However, I’d reframe it as “Music from the future…as we’re living it.” The genius behind this album isn’t in how it’s constructed, but in how it wasn’t. This is an album full of happy accidents. I don’t think that everyone will love this album as it’s not easy listening, but to for adventurous intellectual types looking for a challenge there’s some real gold to be found here if you give it an honest chance.

STAND-OUT TRACKS: Listen to this from beginning to end. Don’t break this experience up. The entire album is the stand-out track.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Listeners looking for something both relaxing and challenging.

Album Color Profile: #78281F

You can find all things Armageddon Speaking at https://armageddonspeaking.bandcamp.com/

Jetfire Prime is an electronic music producer from the UK. His latest release, entitled “Summerzeer” marks a departure from the a traditional Synthwave stylings found on his previous release “The Beginning of the End” (2019). The EP opens with a sound similar to the THX “Deep Note,” which is a synthesized crescendo that glissandos from a relatively narrow frequency spread (200-400hz approximately) to a higher frequency. I have to admit, it’s a neat way to introduce a song which also adds a cinematic effect to the feel of this release.

“Summerzeer” is an odd little EP. After spinning it half a dozen times, I felt like it could be separated into two categories:

1. Songs that are Synthwave leaning. These songs are “Moon Lite,” ”Top Down,” “Go Fletch,” and “We Love to Loop.”

2. Songs that are more electronic art pop, (similar to Kraftwerk’s “Electric Cafe” or perhaps And One’s “Bodypop”). These songs include “Sundae Daydream,” and “Ping Pong.”

Of the two types, I much prefer the electronic art pop songs. Despite the brevity of the artpop side of the EP, I think Jetfire Prime challenges himself with a sound that I hope he explores fully in the near future. “Sundae Daydream” and “Ping Pong” are fun, easy to dance to (I tested this), and undoubtedly electronic. The Synthwave half of “Summerzeer” has a more cinematic feel, and sounds very similar to something you might hear in a buddy cop film—especially the slow hazy groove of “Moon Lite.”

Overall, “Summerzeer” is a fun little mini-album. At twenty-four minutes, it’s a little longer than the average EP. There is a lot to love here in such a short time. And if you’re the dancing type like me, you might really enjoy this one.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Synthwave surfers, Chip-tune lovers, and people who want something fun to dance to.

Stand-out tracks: “Sundae Daydream,” “Ping Pong,” and “We Love to Loop.”

Album Color Profile: #3D5AFE

You can find all things Jetfire Prime at https://jetfireprime.bandcamp.com

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