Klayton Meets Blade Runner
Scandroid’s debut (2517) was an excellent melding of retro 80’s synth styles with contemporary sound production and storytelling. We were introduced to the robo-humanoids Atom and E.E.V and their struggles to escape human persecution and make it to the underground haven below Neo-Tokyo (“Eden”). The saga continues here in Monochrome (2518) as the robots gather, regroup and plan for their survival. Musically, the synthwave/darkwave electronic soundscapes continue to drive the story forward, although with a much more positive vibe and one totally focused on the protagonists and their growing relationship, as well as the survival of their kind. I can best describe this as a mix of 80’s synthwave intertwined with that eerie/futuristic sound of the Blade Runner world (Vangelis/Zimmer). Klayton’s synthesized drums and keys are blissful as they really transport the listener to an “off-world” experience, and one which will undoubtedly take older listeners back to an era when the wonder and excitement of great sci-fi motion pictures ruled the day.
There are essentially 7 lyric tracks here that advance the story, 3 “atmospheric” instrumental tracks and then the two remakes of Jackson’s “Thriller” along with the remake of “The Force Theme.” While it sounds a bit dis-congruent, it all fits together extremely well. I wasn’t sure how “Thriller” would fit into this mix but the lyrical content of the song and Klayton’s unique approach to remixing it really works well. As he did with “Shout” on the debut, he perfectly revitalizes this old tune while simultaneously showing respect to the original. Similarly, “The Force Theme” is just really special – you have to hear it to appreciate the care Klayton takes in paying tribute to the original while adding his own signature elements. “Afterglow” and “Rendezvous” go together and celebrate the “relationship” of our protagonists in the only sensual moments here, the latter track with an infectious danceable beat. The title track is absolutely killer with its dark and gothic vibe and may be the best track on the album. “A Thousand Years” is another great track with a definite Depeche Mode meets Tears for Fears vibe – extremely catchy synth and vocal melodies with passionate lyrics. The sleeper track would have to be “The Veil.” I love this song. It has the pace and intensity of “Empty Streets” from the debut, but I love how Klayton uses his deeper/darker vocal tone to convey the importance of the events here chronicled. I love the punchy drums and piercing synths – just a great song. All 3 of the instrumental tracks are fantastic and they are quite diverse. From the somewhat jazzy “Oblivia” to the more surreal “Searching For a Lost Horizon” (this one could have easily landed in the Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack) Klayton outdid himself. These aren’t the usual filler “atmospheric” tracks, but instead tracks that can really stand alone as musical compositions. “On the Face of the Deep” is probably my favorite of the 3 because of its haunting and powerful vibe and its diversity – simply brilliant.
Although Monochrome doesn’t advance the story chronologically as much as its predecessor, it definitely serves to expand the emotional side of the robot world while simultaneously opening up a broader musical landscape to fans of this retro-80’s synthwave monster that is Scandroid. [F.I.X.T.]