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Synth Album Review: "French Riviera" by Miles Matrix

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.

Album cover for "French Riviera," by Miles Matrix

Album cover for "French Riviera," by Miles Matrix

Some albums are just drenched in mood and atmosphere, dripping with sensations that flow throughout the entire recording. Miles Matrix’s latest album, French Riviera, strongly evokes a feeling of lounging in the warm sun, swimming in deep blue water and enjoying a holiday on the Côte D’Azur. It is a perfect summer album and an antidote to the madness and grim reality the world has forced on us lately.

Review: "French Riviera" by Miles Matrix

Using jazzy elements and fun synths, Miles Matrix has infused the whole album with a bright glow and a shimmer. The production is also silky smooth which only emphasizes the summery sensations that the music creates. I can picture this music playing as I soak up the sun and escape the madness of this world we find ourselves in.

The first element of French Riviera that I want to discuss is the melodic aspect of it. The melodies have a jazzy feel on many of the tracks that just adds to those laid back summer feelings. They are interesting to the ear, but still easy going enough that they allow the listener to soak them in without feeling the need to break the relaxed mood. It’s a balance that I feel Miles Matrix got mostly right.

The sounds that Miles Matrix uses on the album especially the xylophone and the chiming, light synths trip airily through the music. These different sounds give a smooth, flowing and easy vibe. They seem to reflect the bright sunlight of the South of France or lounging by a deep azure swimming pool as they glide through the tracks, taking the listener on a mental vacation from the stress that fills life in the modern world, especially right now.

I found the subtle use of percussion and bass interesting on this album. It’s well-calculated to add movement and energy to the tracks as well as providing a solid underpinning for the easier, smoother sounds that move and glide over the top of the weight underneath them. These are just two more elements that come together to create the lush atmosphere that drenches French Riviera.

My Favourite Tracks

"Aperitif" has a unique beat to it along with a resonant xylophone and a jazzy piano riff that moves through the track. Everything feels easily flowing as a synth plays a fragmented melody while that jazzy piano floats in and out. The energy of the track increases as it progresses, but there’s still an inherent ease and smoothness about the music that I enjoyed.

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Everything about “Palm Trees and Calm Seas” evokes the imagery of the title. We’ve got a jazzy trumpet that solos over the easy, chilled out vibes of the music. There’s a real sense of glide and flow to the track, it’s so silky smooth as it unfolds. I can imagine the soft wash of those calm seas ever so lightly touching on the beach as this songs meanders through in the background, full of ease.

“Waves” opens on the soft sounds of the waves washing up on the shore. There are moments when a high, soft synth slips delicately into the track as light emanates from it in sparkling sounds like sun on water. The lead synth moves over top carrying a yearning, gentle melody. There is something that aches just a little in this track despite the overall ease that it has as it moves along.

There’s a funky feeling to “Afternoon Aerobics” that evokes terrycloth sweatbands, leotards and big hair. It’s still a pretty chill workout though. There are climbing flashes of synth and some really cool, unique drum sounds. The track’s got a wandering and floating lead synth solo with some fun slides in it and everything is full of lustre and shine. I also enjoyed the vocal synth sounds that moved through the track.

“French Riviera” has an easy feeling to it as a hollow, pipe-like synth plays a gently drifting melody. There’s a driving beat that moves it along while the bass rises and falls like a steady heartbeat in the track. The lead synth has an interesting almost nasal quality to it, but not in an annoying way and the solo really has silky glide to it. I also found the glassy sounding synth that drifts through the track quite a unique sound. I pictured scenes of yachts moored in blue water as I listened to this track.

The steady pulse of bass combines with warmer notes rippling out in oscillating waves on “Cloudburst” and there’s a sound of thunder rumbling in the background. A driving, reverberating drumbeat comes into the track and I was interested by the string-like sounds moving over a playfully dancing synth pattern and the soft rustle of raindrops. The xylophone sounds play doubled patterns through the sounds of a storm and the whole track had a nice ambience to it.

The Verdict

French Riviera is an album that glistens, flows and glides along. It’s such an antidote to the madness of the world and those soothing, chilled out vibes just relaxed me. However, I wasn’t bored by it because of Miles Matrix’s great melodies, interesting synths and ability to produce very strong images of sun, sand and a laid back lifestyle.

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