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REVIEW: Pyrit – “Control”

The second album from Pyrit, a Swiss songwriter, is more ambient, more synthwave noir, and ultimately less enjoyablethan his first.  The production is of low quality, meaning that the album is full of sounds that are just not all that enjoyable to hear.  Worse still, this poor production impacts some genuinely good songs for the worse.

Sometimes, good sounds are ruined by the production.  The album starts with some synth arpeggios, laden under a fast tremolo effect.  It’s creepy, and it bodes well.  Modulated vocal samples, crashing bass, and the layering of the arpeggios promise, in theory, an intense, stereo, and immensely cool introduction to the world of this album.  It succeeds in some respects – it is claustrophobic, decidedly Blade Runner, and evokes the theme of the album of being locked inside a machine pretty well.  The production is distracting, though.  At the climax, there is just too much going on.  Droning singing, itself a good addition, clashes with a bass that threatens to drown out the arpeggios.  The pulsating crashes that were originally so powerful quickly lose their zest, and the modulated vocal samples simply get lost.  The detail and definition of their cut-up repetitions are indiscernible against the additional beeps and technological sounds that Pyrit has added in.

In other places, it’s the sounds themselves that let the songs down.  With some tentativeness borne out of my limited soft-synth knowledge, it sounds like Pyrit uses the harsh, low-bit sound of square wave synths too much.  “Take Me Out” does not sound foreboding, does not evoke futuristic machines, and so on – it just sounds squishy.  And again, that sound takes up the whole range of the audio, taking away from other elements of the song.  Another example might be “I Don’t”, a song that would be captivating but for how thin certain arpeggios sound.  Around the middle of the song, there’s a section with airy, polyrhythmic arpeggios over low bass and a twangy reverbed out guitar.  It has got the potential to be amazing, but I just can’t take my focus off how little substance most of the sounds have.  Perhaps in an effort to avoid that clutter that plagues some of the other tracks, Pyrit has cut out much apart from the treble in the arpeggios, and the bass just doesn’t hit you like much bass does.  If you play this song loud, through speakers, it won’t rumble in your stomach.  For better or for worse, that’s what I come to expect from a synthwave album, and frankly, the album would be better off for a bit of it.

The case of “I Don’t” is one of particular sadness, as given a re-master I’m convinced that it would be an excellent song.  The last section is especially wonderful, but the whole composition deserves praise – to the extent that I’m genuinely tempted to put it through a bass-boost on a DAW in an attempt to save it for me.  It’s that good a piece.   “Spit It Out” too has a momentum to it that makes it seem like a song that would be deeply enjoyable to listen to, if it weren’t for the harshness and emphasis on treble in the sounds it’s performed with.  Unsurprisingly, though, the most listenable track is “Another Story”, the lead single; a slow moving track with some excellently produced sounds and sound effects, and a wonderfully minimalist piano part.

Control needs a re-mix.  It’s a self-produced album that, unfortunately, shows why it’s sometimes worth paying a producer.  It’s worth listening to though – perhaps you’ll be able to see past the sounds that I dislike, and there’s certainly some excellent material under them – but purely for the sonic level, it’s probably not an album to be picked up often.

 

Score: 5/10

Notable Tracks: “Another Story”; “Monody”; “I Don’t”

FFO: Tommy ’86, Atoms for Peace

You can buy Control at Bookmaker Records, and you can like Pyrit on Facebook!

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