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Synth Album Review: "Fuzzy Pop and Mardy Moods" by Analogue Electronic Whatever

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

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Overall Impressions

Analogue Electronic Whatever (AEW)’s Fuzzy Pop & Mardy Moods combines intriguing synths with expressive vocals and enigmatic lyrics. The end result is an album that is layered, emotionally complicated and full of fascinating sounds.

The individualistic nature of the synth sounds on Fuzzy Pop & Mardy Moods is a central reason why I enjoy listening to the album. It doesn’t fall back on any retro-synth clichés, but instead weaves together sonic textures and timbres which seem designed to interest the ear. AEW explores interlocking tones and timbres to paint engaging sonic portraits that never fail to keep my interest.

I am also drawn to AEW’s vocals on Fuzzy Pop & Mardy Moods. His voice captures the emotional sensations in the music and he reflects his lyrics well in his vocal performance. There’s a certain desolation in his singing that calls to mind New Wave music in which the darker, more painful emotions are given free rein.

The songs that AEW has written for the album are often mysterious, full of enigmatic and intriguing imagery that allows for several potential interpretations. I rather like the ambiguity and oblique approach to songwriting that AEW has taken here because it keeps me engaged as it unfolds.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“All Apply” comes into existence as a steady, oscillating synth pulse is joined by solid, retro drum sounds as elevated, digital synths flash into the music. A jumping, energetic lead synth melody calls out on a bright keyboard as AEW’s vocals move in, full of New Wave sensibilities.

The steady, charging bass and drum pulse launches the track onwards and glowing synth sweeps in. The keyboard melody bursts with uplifting feeling and slowly undulating arpeggios add texture and elevated notes glitter through the song. AEW’s voice is ideal for capturing the vibes of the lyrics and the pure ‘80s retro feeling.

Hollow, more varied drums come in while a digital-sounding synth wiggles and twists high over top. Smoother, rounder sounds flow in a secondary pattern and the rhythm section presses on as high, bleeping sounds float out above it.

A medium-high, shimmering synth carries a minor key note pattern and below the slowly revolving arpeggios, the percussion is hollow feeling. The deep bass and drum solidity returns along with the chorus, bright synth gliding behind the other musical elements.

A need to get away and the feeling of a world that is being rendered beige emanate from this song. The narrator feels that he’s got to escape, to “find my time, see the distant skyline.” He talks about the new sensation for him of “how long I tried.” Our narrator seems to be telling himself to “jump up and go go go” while saying he’s reached an “all time low.”

We all live in a world in which “we’re all sanitised” so we should let the “bright lights shine” and put our “train on a different line.” He adds that “we’re heading out to pure, pure sunshine.”

Our narrator reminds us that we can “all apply” to escape. He talks about how we’re “heads up and spinning round” and adds that “we know we’re the lost then found.” As we’re all “dressed up fine” we can “let the bright lights shine.”

Smoothly flowing deep, full synth waves with a marimba-like quality echo out into open space as elevated synths sparkle to open “Good Trouble.” An ethereal, nasal synth carries delicately drifting notes and AEW’s voice caresses and trembles, effectively carrying the emotion and sensations of the lyrics. Stuttering drums break as a resonant synth pattern and rising, round notes climb.

Elevated, distorted synths cry out high above the richness of the lush, undulating synth melody while the tripping drums move. AEW’s vocals ache with emotive expression and warm synth sings a crooning, gentle melodic line. A calming feeling permeates the music as the lead synth’s cosmic drift of glides along and aching emotion pours from the lyrics.

Nostalgia for better times that seem to have been spent in NYC fills this song. Our narrator starts off by asking someone who is “good trouble” not to leave him as he asks them if they remember the past “times so easy.” He talks about watching the river flow and that right on time, “good trouble comes and haunts me."

One part of his nostalgia is for the Wu Tang Clan as in the lyric “Ghost Killer that Method’s O.D. Dollar, Dollar” since it started in NYC in the late 1970’s. He addresses the other person in the song, asking them to “step up and take the call.” There’s pleading as he asks them to say it’s alright and adds “we can make it right this time.”

The narrator talks about good trouble but this time in imagination. He says of “New York City, United Nations” that “new blood takes it.” Harking back he acknowledges that they had their time. Again he addresses this person who is good trouble adding that they “stand and fight” but that “this warrior’s on a part time basis.”

Now the narrator talks about how “we stand and watch time” as the clock turns back and the timeline is cut. He points out that the truth “turns round” too while “power cuts and fails.” He adds that now he can “scream so freely” and that with double vision, it’s easy to choose. His choice is simple as he says, “I’ll take it back, you can have it all.”

“Count The Days” starts as rough-edged synth swells into the music along with an actively shifting bassline and gritty, medium-low, expanding synth sounds move over the interesting percussion.

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High, howling synth cries out with a a pang of sadness as it bends and twists over the active bass and the popping, pulsing percussion. AEW’s voice is sharp and clear, carrying the lyrics cleanly over the crying lead synth. A jumping percussion segment supports the vocals while a droning synth shivers and again the curlicues of high synth writhe.

I am drawn to the shadows that fill the vocals as the unsettling synth cries out above the interlocking percussion/and a sharp, hard-edged synth climbs higher and higher, ramping up the tension before fading away.

This is a song about struggling with the complexities of life. Our narrator asks a series of questions about what to do if “the words don’t fit” or “what to do with fall, don’t climb?” He ponders about what to do “with walk the thin line” or with “bigger pictures…best laid plans.” The narrator continues by saying that he never “made them count the days.”

There are a clever series of plays on words in this song. I enjoy the interplay of lines like “My mind turned left. My mind just left me. My mind turned right, ran right by me.” They create an image of confusion and misalignment that works well.

Our narrator says that he’s made up his mind that he just can’t see the person he’s addressing. He adds that his mind is made up that he has to “push through.” As the song concludes, he says that he talks in pictures and adds “ You know my mind’s made up, I’ll never reach you.”

The sound of radio stations begin scanned opens the track before a distant voice comes through along with slowly growing, flowing, grit-edged synth notes kick off “I’m An Ear.” A reverberating, undulating low synth pattern is joined by throbbing bass and a smoothly gliding drumbeat. The distant robotic vocal repeating “radio” moves over the throbbing motion of the drums and bass.

Raised, distorted synth forms a delicately floating melodic pattern with a lost, desolate feeling that I find moving. The track is tinged warmth as chimes shine distantly and the drum and bass throb shapes the music. Through it all the robotic vocal repeats, feeling empty and cold while warming chords climb and chiming light gleams. There’s a subtle swirl that moves through and the higher synth notes dance along. This track feels subdued and gentle, touched by melancholy as it moves.

“I Have Seen” begins with strange, metallic vocal sounds and a distant singer along with an apocalyptic religious declamation. The driving beat is joined AEW’s chanting voice as the tight, writhing sound shifts and the drumbeat hits hard. Sparkling chimes with a cold light drift through and the chanted vocals echo.

An open, floating synth calls out in an empty feeling note pattern as warmer, smoother synth sounds and flickering chimes glitter. I especially enjoy the mantra-like quality of AEW’s vocals on this song. The music moves to a slowly flowing segment while a powerful vocalist is sampled.

Wiggling, tightly wound synth arpeggios keep spinning to add texture. The drums throb onwards and the lost, icy chimes shimmer as AEW’s chanting voice echoes out and the mournful synth undulates.

This song has a mantra-like, chanted quality to it as our narrator repeats “to the seer, I have seen.” He goes to say that “the devil’s eyes” never get old and talks about “strangled words, shattered words.” Our narrator exhorts us to travel forward “to reach real dreams” and repeats “go, buddy, go, go, go.”

We are all living in fiction now according to the narrator and we could’ve seen “the easy danger and stranger words” that threaten us. The narrator reminds us that “what you see, it’s what you are.” He tells us that we should “unwrap these words with a clear, clear flow” as he encourages us to go on. Our narrator says that we should “wait for the return” of myths and legends as he adds that “legends burn.”

An accordion drifts out over a swirling, fragile synth cloud behind it to bring “The End’s Man Made” into existence. The accordion melody has a folk music feeling, caressing and ancient, the notes distantly roaming as the melodic content aches.

The drumbeat’s driving charge propels the song forward while the accordion flickers through. AEW’s voice effectively exudes power and a message of danger while the beat throbs solidly. The accordion melody has a timeless feeling and the drum pulse seems endless. AEW’s vocals are as unsparing at the lyrics.

The whole song has a trance-inducing feeling and the steady synth pulse interspersed with the drumbeat adds a vague reggae quality to the music. The accordion off in the distance exudes painful emotion, some expression from outside of time.

This song explores the state of the world and humanity on the brink of upheaval. Our narrator talks about how “a new kingdom come” has been “a long time coming.” He adds that he loves destruction as he’s on a silent run to “see inner visions, watch you disappear.” Now the “time for action” has come as we take “the path of fear.”

In the chorus, our narrator asks if we can hear him clearly. He says that he’s calling out as we “watch our worlds collide” and we’re falling so it’s “time to make amends, time to make a change.” We’ll reap what we sow because “the end’s man made.”

The narrator tells us that we bury our worries “down deep inside” but when when we “come up for fresh air” it makes our eyes burn. He adds that the “disease of modern man” is that “a cure spreads quickly from hand to hand.”

However a message with some hope in it appears as the narrator says that a journey has started and “who knows where it might lead.” He points out that our first step should be to “learn and change.” The narrator adds that not only disease “spreads from hand to hand” but so too do “knowledge and understanding.”

Our narrator also reminds us that just helping ourselves isn’t enough “if one does not help others.” He adds that “a movement can only succeed when what is revolutionary becomes what is ordinary and accepted.”

“Sitting In The Sky” commences as radio transmissions from space come through in distant static while disembodied music and voices drift. A stuttering beat moves below the distant melody that becomes a nasal, medium-high synth over a lower swell of supporting chords that swirl and delicately intermingle.

The lead synth melody has a fragile flow that is a bit distorted as the drums and bass pulsate. Sunny, caressing chords bubble up and the beat and bass continue in their broken throb. The lead melody has a disconnected sensation in it as it slips along over the varied percussion.

I am enamoured by how this track combines an elegiac feeling with easy motion, exuding a sense of cloudy gliding, while the drum and bass pattern contributes a feeling of motion below the other elements.

Conclusion

Analogue Electronic Whatever has an idiosyncratic approach to synth-based music but it is one that I absolutely enjoy. Fuzzy Pop and Mardy Moods is characterful, ear-catching and emotive in a way that I find engaging. I hope that AEW keeps on exploring his fresh take on synth-based music.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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