Several years before two of its members wrote the Emmy-winning music for the hit sci-fi/horror series Stranger Things, S U R V I V E were constructing walls of analog synthesizers on stages in various dive bars and venues throughout Austin, delivering their faithful yet still highly original updates of John Carpenter and Fabio Frizzi film scores. Following two cassettes, a 7" single, and a 10" EP, the quartet made their full-length debut in 2012 with this album, which has been referred to as either an eponymous release or by its catalog numbers (MNQ026 on Italian label Mannequin or HD015 on Austin's Holodeck). Already by this point, the group were adept at creating dark, suspenseful atmospheres, and while their later work would sound a bit more refined, the lo-fi grittiness works to the music's advantage. The album's tracks alternate between rippling dark ambient pieces and more rhythmic ones, including highlights such as "Floating Cube" and "Hourglass," which inject subtle elements of '90s IDM and electro into their intense horror-scapes. These tracks demonstrate S U R V I V E's dynamics as a band, with chugging arpeggios and expertly paced beats complemented by the soaring guitar-like lead synths. No lyrics are present, but "Shunting Yard" features a wash of vocoders, and other tracks seem to have subliminal whispers. S U R V I V E's debut established them as a powerful force in the world of retro-futuristic, cinematic electronic music, and things would only get bigger (and stranger) from there.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson