Review Summary: A kaleidoscopic celebration of neon
In sitting down to attempt to write something vaguely review-like
– a towering compilation of retrofuturistic bangers, recorded and released by one of synthwave’s brightest torchbearers over a period of several years – my mind and pen immediately drifted towards a rather trite, broad-brush analysis of the genre of synthwave itself: to considering the degree to which it lives and dies with its stylistic and cultural influences in a way that most music simply doesn’t; pondering the playfulness with which it toys with nostalgic soundscapes and rose-tinted colour-palettes before proceeding to chuck them all into a blender; and pontificating as to the genre’s ability to thrive in the past whilst fixing its gaze firmly on the future. Perhaps its sheer scope and variety as a triple EP is what drove me to attempt to neatly encapsulate the essence of an entire genre, for how else could I possibly articulate exactly what makes all 18 terrific tracks tick? However, after crumpling up an environmentally-un-friendly quantity of paper, I realised that it wasn’t all that complicated. Well, not really. All one really needs to know about Trilogy
before dipping ones toes in its hazy, neon pond is as follows:
This shit SLAPS.
Franck Hueso a.k.a. Carpenter Brut a.k.a. one wholesome French boi
has gotten pretty darn good at writing some rather tasty tunes
. Over the last 8 years or so, the man has produced a catalogue best described as a vibrant kaleidoscope of riffs and synths, all jagged and fractal and loose; the kind of music that ought to be accompanied by its own compulsory light show, its hue that of grimy, Gameboy florescence or a faded George A. Romero poster. All that kaleidoscopic goodness finds its way onto Trilogy
, whether it be on the groove-laden riff-city of EP 1
, the macabre funk-fest of EP 2
or the space-aged (and paradoxically sinister) joyride of EP 3
Where to start with this hulking, Frankensteinial slab of beeps and boops? For those looking to dive in the deep end, why not bask in the barely-contained bombast of Meet Matt Stryker
or the sci-fi discotheque that is Looking for Tracy Tzu
. Not your cup of tea? Perhaps the neon highway of Paradise Warfare
is more your speed, with its soulful steel drums and sax that unexpectedly build into a riotous wall of distortion and fuzz. No? Hm. Wake Up The President
and Turbo Killer
present a sort of dance-off/chainsaw-massacre vibe that is also available for your perusal, should you have the stomach/stamina; or there’s the straightforward bops Disco Zombi Italia
and 347 Midnight Demons
for the more faint of heart.
If not already self-evident, let me make it so: there is literally something for everyone packed within these fur-lined, bloodstained walls. Both individual tracks and the EPs within which they reside are distinctive and varied – each adopting disparate tones, textures and emotional-cadences – yet the collective whole, despite its size, feels very much like an album experience; not small feat, given how wildly eclectic this 81-minute hodgepodge really is. I suppose it’s those garish, neo-noir stylings and 80s horror flick theatrics that hold it all together, providing the thematic constant which prevents this haunted house from caving in on itself; well, that, and the compositional grace with which Hueso writes. Songs slot into one another like puzzle pieces, fitting snuggly within their context to form a bigger, bolder picture. Further credit is surely owed to the slower, brooding cuts a la Obituary
and Anarchy Road
. Dripping with atmosphere, these non-bangers punctuate the sprawling LP, creating just enough breathing space to allow their blistering counterparts to wreak havoc uninhibited.
In leaning on cartoonish turns of phrase to highlight just how integral Trilogy’s
influences are to its overall sound , I fear I may be at risk of dancing around precisely why this triple-EP is worth your time. Let’s bring it back to basics: put simply, Trilogy
is a metric fuckton
of fun. Whether you’re listening to the soundtrack to a zombie apocalypse or a neon-splattered, funk anthem, Hueso makes sure there’s always something to smile about. Repurposing the hallmarks of horror with a slightly cheerier motive, this wholesome French boi has crafted a joyous playlist for all manner of occasions: one that’s sure to spice up your game night, pump up your gainz
and alleviate the boredom of the everyday. Better yet, its simplicity and accessibility means that the hurdle to entry is incredibly low. Just throw on your best dancing shoes, squeeze back into those leopard-print pants and come join the party.