Embryonic is an electronic producer from Montréal, Quebec. Their music is best described as a combination of Dreamwave, Retrowave, Spacewave, with a dash of Vaporwave. Their first album “Terra Navigation Protocol” was released on October 30th, 2020.

The artwork, by Jeffrey Zico, is one part otherworldly, and two parts psychedelic. It features a figure looking up into a hypnotic sky and a dying neon star. The details in the foreground remind me of a vast and desolate sci-fi landscape. It wouldn’t be out of place in a Rick and Morty episode, or in Heavy Metal magazine. I quite enjoy the visuals here, but I think the yellow and blue color scheme is slightly too bombastic/loud for the soothing sounds that lie within “Terra Navigation Protocol.”

Amidst the backdrop of ambient pads and breathy atmosphere, the first thing that stuck out to me about “Terra Navigation Protocol,” was the wind. Oh goddess, there’s so much wind on this album. There’s also a tasteful implementation of shoegaze style guitars present throughout parts of the the album. If I had to describe the visual that this entire album gives me, it’s like watching dry ice sublimate.

The intro track, “Tales of Pilgrim and Exiled,” begins with a metallic sort of energy. It slowly eases into a space more akin to proper Dreamwave–complete with faded subtle pitch bending here and there for effect. This track feels like floating above a lifeless wind tunnel above a far-flung planetary body. “Tales of Pilgrim and Exiled,” shows off a little bit of what “Terra Navigation Protocol” does, and serves as an awesome opening which leads into the first proper track, “Empty Chrysalis.” “Empty Chrysalis” doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to getting into the thick of what it’s trying to accomplish. Everything, the drums, guitars, pads, and low end are all present from the moment the track begins. As I close my eyes I see flashes of light pass before my eyes transitioning from one time of my life into another. At around 2:20 there’s a neat distant guitar tremolo carrying the spacey vibe of this song further that reminds me of mid-2000s atmospheric black metal.

“Deadform” enters with a cold set of pads that remind me of a spiritual awakening in a way. Like, you know when you think you have everything in life figured out and then the gods send down a little reminder that you don’t? That’s what this song sounds like to me. There’s not much guitar here, but it does make an appearance at the end of the track that brings the song to a satisfying resolution.

“De Valore Doloris,” (aka my favorite track from “Terra Navigation Protocol”) channels a starry sort of epicness that reminds me of Hans Zimmer’s work on “Interstellar.” This song feels like watching the complete life cycle of a person from womb to tomb. It all feels quite sad when you really think about it. The feeling that this song stirred up within me wasn’t unlike having to say goodbye to someone you love for the last time. The plucky, harp-like synths here sit well within the spacious and (once again) windy vibe going on here.

Up next is the title track, which revisits some of what “De Valore Doloris” is doing, with guitars being front and center for most of the track. “The North Star,” combines sparkling keys with a post-synthwave thematic structure that slightly shifts halfway into the song. Images that came into my head for this song include watching a fledgling android stumble out into the world for the first time, only in reverse. “Stranger” opens with a high pitched blurry sort of bell that feels watery and dangerous. The Juno-esque pad present on “The North Star” makes its return as a texture that bridges the gap between the breathiness of this track and the guitars in the background towards the center of the song.

“The Candor Rift,” which is my second favorite track from this album, reminds me of the title track a lot, only better. It’s slow, plodding, and chock full of guitars. There’s a nice lead that enters in at 1:56 that serves as a pseudo-guitar solo due to where it sits in the mix. At 3:04 a slow arpeggio enters and quietly leaves. Images of floating out in a lonely, cold, dark space bombard me whenever I listen to this one. “Orbiters” channels much of the same energy found on the title track and “The Candor Rift,” there’s guitars, pads, and windy atmosphere galore. Finally, “L’absolutiste,” is a track that could’ve been a good opener for the album, but instead was chosen, wisely, in my opinion, to close out “Terra Navigation Protocol.” The highlight of this track was the synth that comes in at around the 2:36 mark.

Overall, “Terra Navigation Protocol,” is an album comprised of three primary sounds: wet (albeit) clean guitars, breathy pads, and metallic mid-to-high frequency sounding keys. I really enjoy that the sounds Embryonic decided on weren’t used once and thrown away. I think that in order to maintain a certain flavor on an album, that it’s good to pick from a carefully selected palette of sounds. Embryonic does just that. Sprinkled throughout this album are some signs of subtle melody, but for the most part “Terra Navigation Protocol” feels like one continuous thought as opposed to ten individual tracks. Don’t come into this one expecting slamming drums, or a pronounced low end. You won’t find that. Embryonic isn’t about rocking and rolling, Embryonic is about evoking strong emotions. Emotions that want to sweep you away into their wake and take you far, far away…to another time, another planet, another life.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Cinematic Dreamwave, and Spacewave,

STAND-OUT TRACKS: “De Valore Doloris,” “Deadform,” “The Candor Rift,” and “Empty Chrysalis.”

Album color profile: #FCE4EC (when I close my eyes I see this color when listening to “Terra Navigation Protocol”)

You can find all things Embryonic on https://embryonic.bandcamp.com/

Mike Templar is an electronic music producer who’s traveled all the way from Sirius, that’s 8.611 light years, in order to share the gift of funky spacewave with all of us down here on Earth. His latest album “TROM” aka “The Resolution of Mind” came out on June 20th via Bandcamp.

“TROM” is a high concept, multimedia album that has to do with one man’s journey against the a corrupt system holding humanity down. Apparently, the next three-hundred years are going to be a complete shit show for us. Thanks drug resistant viral infections! Thanks power hungry corporations and politicians! Hey thanks, big pharma!

All joking aside, the story behind “TROM” may seem overly serious, but there’s a real sense of playfulness to the overarching theme of this album. This is precisely what makes “TROM” so different. This isn’t an edgy “Game of Thrones” gore-porn style look at an unfortunate future. There’s a real sense of thoughtful levity here.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to Mike personally over the course of a few hours. We talked about “TROM,” our lives, and what it means to live in such interesting times. After talking to Mike I got the sense that this is a man who is truly connected with something bigger than himself. He’s honest, straightforward, and understands that the thing that’s helped him keep perspective through all the ugliness is staying connected to his higher self through artistic expression. In so many words, “TROM” is the result of a man putting a vulnerable part of himself publicly on display for the sake of his art.

I mean, Mike Templar wrote an entire goddamn novel (roughly 120 pages) that fully fleshes out each song on “TROM.” Most artists don’t even bother to include lyrics or liner notes with their album releases. And while I haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and read the book in its entirety, I can say that without a doubt, it’s full of high-minded ideas. Ideas that investigate the root causes behind a lot of disturbing truths that eerily mirror our own reality.

“TROM” consists eighteen tracks, some of which are remixes, spanning roughly eighty minutes. From a value stand-point this album offers a lot of content. Musically, “TROM” is almost entirely instrumental with the exception of “Emergency (feat. Millennium Falck)” and a few sample drops sporadically spread throughout the album. Even though this album deals with some heavy themes, I don’t think the sound of this is dark. In fact, “TROM” has a certain bounciness to it, which makes the album a lot more playful than almost all of the other albums I’ve listened to this year. That said, it’s not so playful that it’s whimsical. There’s a lot of genre blending here. “Stopover on Earth” is a good example of this. My favorite track on the album is definitely “Inner Enemy.” It’s very visual and just sounds all around pleasing to the ear. I found myself humming it to myself a lot this week. “Emergency (feat. Millennium Falck)” is a compelling vocal performance. It’s not over-polished with an overwhelming amount of pitch correction or processing. Millennium Falck did a great job on it. It is totally reminiscent of 1970s variety show music, which, needless to say, is wildly different than what I was expecting. This may sound weird, but I quite dig it. You should check it out.

Overall, “TROM” is an accessible album. It’s extremely chill considering the subject matter. I think this would be great music to listen to if you’re a little unorthodox and need a some background juice for an inspiring meditation session. At times, it wades into mallwave territory—but I don’t think that this is a bad thing. This is definitely a thinking man’s album made by a man who likes to think.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Free-thinkers, people who want to experience spacewave with a positive vibe.

Stand-out tracks: “Inner Enemy,” “Speculum,” “Stopover on Earth,” “Slingshot Singularity Spy,” “Emergency (feat. Millennium Falck)”.

Album Color Profile: #2196F3

You can find all things Mike Templar at https://autumo.bandcamp.com/

Upon first examination, Dynamite Stranger’s “Synth Ranger” is branded to appeal to the Synthwave crowd. Visually speaking, “Synth Ranger” looks the part. The album’s cover art features an image of a lone spacewalker that reminds me of of Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” I can’t decide whether the spacewalker is screaming out in pain or rocking out to some ill tunes. I mean, he’s on his knees, so he’s probably in distress, but he also could be knee sliding in excitement. In any case, I quite enjoy the artwork. It has a sharp cinematic look to it that is almost Giger-like.

It’s clear to me that a lot of work went into this album, and I think it’s something Dynamite Stranger should be proud of. There are some banging tunes on “Synth Ranger.” “Fast Forward” is a nice track that has a Daft Punk sort of approach to it. I think that really fits in with the sci-fi aesthetic of the album. “Rewind” is also great. It is the only track to feature vocals (by the wonderful Nightmares and Neon). I really have to applaud Dynamite Stranger for the vocal processing on “Rewind.” To me, it stands out as a distinctive high point on the album. Its fun, somewhat retro underpinnings are downright catchy. The lyrics are well written too. I wish “Synth Ranger” had more tracks like it.

Musically, “Synth Ranger” sounds like has more in common with postmodern future music than it does with the dreamy sonic sound of yesteryear. There is a regimented, albeit triangular quality to the sound of this album. I think that this works to its advantage on tracks like “Xero,” and “Into the Void,” which use space and bright portamento-infused leads to add focus to the music. In general though, this album is somewhat cold. This is mainly due to how clean it is. Like—it almost feels like Dynamite Stranger literally worked in the same cold space depicted on the album cover—suit and all. That said, there is a “no one can hear you scream in space” type of attitude about “Synth Ranger” that gives the album a certain flair.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Synthwave folks looking for something a little different. I think that fans of futuristic sounding music will like this too.

Stand-out tracks: “Into the Void,” “Fast Forward,” and “Rewind,” and “Xero”

Album Color Profile: #2874A6

You can find all things Dynamite Stranger at: https://dynamitestranger.bandcamp.com/