Zeta (UK)
Zeta


4.0
excellent

Review

by Claire Q. CONTRIBUTOR (53 Reviews)
June 27th, 2017 | 14 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sweet, sweet synths

Zeta, the 80s-inspired synthwave formation of Dan Tompkins (Tesseract), Katie Jackson, and Paul Ortiz (Chimp Spanner), have set out to make quite the pop album. To be specific, they’re aiming for a succinct evocation of various futuristic, cyber-punk elements that would naturally be portrayed through some sort of synthetic toolkit. But as a reminder of its inherent humanity, Zeta prominently bears the versatile and reliably strong voice of Dan.

I’m calling Zeta a pop album because it embodies the best principles that the term “pop” has to offer. It melds together concise songwriting, addicting hooks, and dynamic beats with a crisp and spacious production, full of lush synthesizers and the occasional flourishes of electric guitar. Zeta do many styles well: upbeat and anthemic (“The Distance”, “Beat the System”), ethereal and pensive (“Lock and Key”, “Elysian Fields”), forceful and with a sense of urgency (“Right Time”, “Gates of Hell”). Whatever the mood, one can expect there to be intricate synth layers and a beat of appropriate weight. Compare the sustained, restrained bass notes of “Elysian Fields” to the heavy-hitting thumps of “The Distance”, and it becomes evident that Zeta have a pretty good sense when it comes to establishing that primitive rhythmic foundation. If you’re looking for suitable workout songs, I definitely recommend the more active tracks on this album.

The whole premise of Zeta relies on its effectiveness at creating a thoroughly-detailed, futuristic world. And how rich it seems, gentle washes of resonating melodies in one part complimenting the coldly aggressive drive in another. “Fountain of Youth” is sweet and subtly effervescent, while songs like “Silent Waves” feel expansive and thrilling in virtue of the sheer amount of open space that they create. Zeta portrays a world that is neither overtly utopian or dystopian, but I’m detecting a slight optimism in the way that it builds up to the multi-layered complexity in its closer, “Chemical Zone”. It combines the emotional peaks and troughs of Zeta into one singular piece; “give me a day to rule the world”, sings Dan, even as “the lights will fade away”.

But it hurts me slightly to speak of the lyrics. No matter how charitably I interpret the vanilla scenarios (“You gave me your heart and told me to hide” on “Lock and Key”, “you’re pulling me in deeper deep love” on “Causeway”), I simply cannot find much thematic cohesiveness between the lyrics and the elaborately constructed soundscapes of Zeta. Now, it’s not as if I’m expecting everything to be an explicit reference to Blade Runner or William Gibson novels, but it’s a real detriment to the submersion factor of Zeta when the lines speak of little more than generic love song themes and half-hearted introspection (see: “I keep searching for life that’s meaningful/And I’ll keep moving ’til the lights go out). Fortunately for me, I am terrible at actually identifying what is being sung, and so I was mostly spared this pain on my listening experiences. Nevertheless, I can’t shake off the feeling that if Zeta had written more fleshed-out lyrics, the album would be elevated to even loftier heights. Its lush musicality deserves better than the tropes which have been slapped on. Oh well - human fallibility, I suppose.

Despite my grievances with the lyrics, I am still happily enjoying the vibrant future-pop of Zeta. It’s the sort of music that flows smoothly through the veins, and it’ll inject some groove in you at opportune moments. The production of Zeta, with all its intricacies and satisfying touches of reverberation, can’t be underestimated - that aspect alone makes it a masterful creation. If you’re nostalgic for a bygone era or just looking to jam to something interesting, Zeta will most certainly serve your purposes. It also demonstrates the sheer efficacy of tight, efficient songwriting, and thus has a sort of cerebral element to it as well. So immerse yourself in Zeta - if you’re “waiting for the right time”, it’s now.



Recent reviews by this author
portrayal of guilt Let Pain Be Your GuideEntheos (CAN) Le Zahir
Hail the Sun Mental KnifeEnon High Society
Night Verses From the Gallery of SleepColour Anthology
user ratings (26)
Chart.
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
FullOfSounds
June 27th 2017


15764 Comments


Good stuff. May give this a look



Bloon
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2017


1934 Comments


It should probably be "Zeta does many styles well" and the last paragraph has some odd formating errors, but this is a really cool review and it makes me want to check this. It sounds quite interesting.

Digging: Bingo Gazingo - Bingo Gazingo

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2017


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I looked it up - as it turns out, do or does are both acceptable for plural bands, so I have sneakily changed that to the band name instead

Digging: Milanku - Monument du non?-?tre & Mouvement du non?-?vivant

verdant
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2017


2294 Comments


lovely work, u gotsa cool descriptive style

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2017


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Thanks Jack, I'd say your descriptions are definitely prime

Drummerboy123
June 27th 2017


3086 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Still waiting on that In Colour album.

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2017


1330 Comments


Arse, knew I'd slept on my review for this record too long!
Great review for a great album.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2017


23947 Comments


interesting argument you make that this album could've been that much better if the lyrics connected thematically. nice write up and I may check this myself

AmbushReality
June 27th 2017


45 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I agree with DrummerBoy, would've preferred to have In Colour over this. The record didn't live up to my expectations, nor did it leave me overly impressed, but there's enough here to enjoy nonetheless. Chemical Zone is a highlight for sure, excellent track.

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2017


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I actually haven't given In Colour a try yet, how is it?



And thanks everyone

AmbushReality
June 29th 2017


45 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

In Colour only has two or three tracks out as far as I know. Its a much poppier, more structured project than this. The guitarist from Sikth is Dan's lone bandmate on it I believe. Its pretty solid though, I really enjoy the few songs I was able to find.

Drummerboy123
July 10th 2017


3086 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I love Dan the man but he's all over the place lately.

TesseracT, Zeta, In Colour, Absent Hearts, White Moth Black Butterfly, at one point he was in Skyharbor AS WELL, plus there's probably an unannounced project he's been in or somat. I'm worried the guy is spreading himself too thin, especially with the quality of the last TesseracT single.

This is a great album but I feel GUNSHIP did it a lot better IMO.

tcoz3
July 12th 2017


1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Your review is very good, but I disagree with your assessment of the lyrics. Being a pro musician myself, I've dealt with and witnessed very generic lyrics I assure you. This is not the case, I think these lyrics are refreshing and different in my honest opinion. I love Chimp's work on this project and Dan nailed this vocally and lyrically. It's a bold project and they executed perfectly. Just my 2 cents. Cheers!

Nomos
February 23rd 2018


1737 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Always strange to see an brand new account come in and make a single post that disagrees with criticism and gives a perfect review. Try contribute to the community, bud. Review some more albums. Until then I'll just assume you're Katie Homes or whoever the third member of the band is



This is a great album, though. A true guilty pleasure. The lyrics are disappointingly generic but every single other element really does it for me. Luscious production. Crisp. Really catchy stuff. They just released the instrumentals on Bandcamp and they're great -- I noticed a lot of little details I didn't before because of Dan (not a bad thing at all, but I always love a good instrumental version).



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy