RR7349 is the second proper album from Austin synth wizards S U R V I V E, not counting several limited tapes and vinyl EPs. Chances are, it's the first album most people will hear from the group, as it's the first release from the quartet since two of its members (Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein) composed the score for the wildly successful Netflix sci-fi/horror series Stranger Things, which premiered the same month the album's release was announced. It arrives on Relapse Records, a long-running metal label which has always been supportive of noise, experimental music, and dark electronic music. For anyone who has heard the band's previous recordings or witnessed their phenomenal live shows, the album shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, but any newcomers are sure to be astonished. S U R V I V E craft suspenseful mini-epics which take inspiration from John Carpenter's film scores, but don't play it 100-percent straight; there are significant elements of darkwave, electro, and IDM in their sound as well. The nine imaginary themes on this album typically feature slow, expertly paced beats and foggy atmospheres. The group strike a balance of sounding both heavy and spacious, and the songs are heavily detailed without feeling dense or overloaded. There are moments where the songs pause and get hazier, as if they're accompanying an attack scene and the victim is overcome with fright and barely retaining consciousness. Tracks like "Dirt" take things into the dungeon, with whipcrack-like echo trailing the drum beats. "High Rise" balances a lo-fi beatbox rhythm with skittering modular synth noises, and "Wardenclyffe" builds up to a cascade of stunning arpeggios. Several tracks feature soft washes of vocoder-masked vocals, and at times the synths seem to imitate ghostly shrieking. The album reaches its dramatic, most likely tragic, conclusion with the sizzling "Cutthroat." RR7349 is like the silver screen debut by a director whose films previously went straight to video (or on-demand streaming), and it's easily the most accomplished work yet from the mighty S U R V I V E, who tower over the majority of other synth-wave revivalists.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson