Liberation

Liberation

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Liberation is the work of David West, a restless musical soul who has played with Total Control and fronted the excellent Rat Columns, just to name a couple things. This time he's delving deep into synth-based non-pop, taking inspiration from Mute records and all manner of early-'80s avant synth bands. Liberation's self-titled debut features clanking drum machines, very angular synths, queasy guitars, and rubbery basslines, with West's pleading vocals out front some of the time. While he's not exactly tearing his heart out, he's definitely pulling out some wires and circuits, especially on the slower songs like "Move Me" or the almost poppy "Looking for a Lover." The album's lighter moments, like the almost funky "Whatever You Want" and the synth poppy, almost pretty "Distant Song," show he's not just morose as well as providing some dimension, both of the sonic and emotional variety. The overall sound of the album is an authentic re-creation of the era, but escapes being a science project thanks to the robotic soul West injects into both the melodies that emerge out of the banks of dry ice and also into the painful desolation of his lyrics. The arrangements are also full of tricky little moments that help listeners realize they are in the hands of an expert. The Miami Vice-ready drum rolls and surprising shift into an uptempo groove on "Forget" inject some energy into the proceedings, while the synth stabs of the almost lilting "Leaves Falling" and the shoegazey haze of "Flight Number" are examples of the extra care West put into the album's construction. It's par for the course on any of his projects, and if Liberation isn't exactly reinventing the synth non-pop wheel, the spin he puts on it means the album is still well worth investigating.

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