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Synth Album Review: "Mind Pictures" by Maxx Silver

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

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Overall Impressions

Maxx Silver’s Mind Pictures is a shadowed, nuanced synthpop album with a well-crafted musical environment, emotive vocals and interesting lyrics. He creates a rich atmosphere on the album, full of different emotional states and a unique blend of instrument sounds.

One of the stronger aspects of Mind Pictures is the overall musical environment that Silver builds on the album. There is an overall feeling of darkness, tinged with melancholy, and occasionally shot through with contrasting warm light. I enjoy the variety of sounds, including trumpet and expressive strings, all combining into a intertwining musical whole. He tops it off with ear-catching, energizing percussion to shape the music.

I find myself drawn to the interaction between Maxx Silver’s voice and his lyrics. His voice has an ethereal, delicate quality that can be gentle or shadowed and icy, depending on the lyrics. The words are succinct, expressive, and full of strong imagery, helping to add to the album’s atmosphere.

My Favourite Tracks: "Electronica"

“Electronica” opens with timpani and tense synth joined by angular bass undulating around a throbbing drumbeat. A minor key, descending synth carries a sharp-edged melodic pattern along with glittering chimes.

Maxx Silver and Dasha Larks’ voices harmonize the minor key melody wriggling through the music. Strings tumble down in tense, twisting lines while the drums pop and burst as Silver’s voice drifts through with sibilant softness.

The drumbeat pulses on as an elevated synth snakes through the music and the vocal melody moves sharply. The percussive tapestry drives onward, the song full of shadowed energy as the drums jump and the high synth distorts and shifts.

The song’s lyrics are a contrast to the darkness of the music. “Dr. Dasha” tells Silver that she needs to “talk about your diagnosis, from your extensive tests.” She says that he’s been feeling sad and blue, adding, “I have a solution, a total cure for you."

The good doctor tells Maxx that electronica will “feed your soul, light your life” to which Maxx replies, “I know I have nothing wrong with me. Electronica will set me free!” He goes on to say that the doctor has “really pass(ed) the test” and that her diagnosis was correct. Maxx concludes that he hasn’t “quite been me,” so now “you are showing me the cure. The solution is sure.”

"Visionary"

“Visionary” begins as a reverent synth choir flows out in delicate lines while bass wells up below to support it and drums throb and bounce, forming a steady pulse. Cymbals add a metallic feel as Maxx Silver’s caressing voice glides out in a smooth and tender melody. Elevated synths tremble into the music and gentle emotion fills Silver’s voice, carrying the soothing melody while the drums keep up their throbbing.

High, sparkling sounds glide along as we move into a steady and even chant, percussion popping along. I'm drawn to the mysterious melody carried on the brassy synth as pan pipes add their breathy voices. Raised synths play flickering lines and Silver’s voice is enfolding and light. The high synth shines out in glowing notes that climb, full of positive emotions as piano notes tremble out. The lead synth melody soars to the sky on gleaming wings and into silence.

This is a song pledging love and care, the narrator telling the other person that they can let their worries go because “you were always welcome here.” He goes on to say that he can set the other person’s mind at ease and “calm the troubled sea” to free them.

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Our narrator points out that “reasons come and reasons go” and that he could be “all you needed to know.” He adds that seasons change and that there are always “mountains, chasms, danger below.”

The narrator encourages the song’s subject to “change the scenery” and tells that person that he’ll be their visionary. Tenderly, he wishes, “Fears be gone and blessings be” to the other person as he tells them to rest their head and feel safe.

The song concludes as the narrator says he can see "the width of stars lay before your troubled heart.” Once again, our narrator reminds the song’s subject that they can “change the imagery” and he’ll be their visionary.

"Celestial"

“Celestial” starts off with a rising, full synth sound that swells in a shadowed and fragile line. The reverent, growing synth has a trembling quality, exuding a feeling of deep peace. The string-like synths drift through the song with gossamer ease and a higher, shining synth adds another layer of lambent life.

The steady, shifting flow of warm synths rounds out the music beautifully, while the elevated sounds add sunlight. This is a piece to enfold and settle, giving off a cradling sensation as it floats. There’s a worshipful feeling that permeates the track. All of the intertwining orchestral elements add depth as a synth rises like a soprano voice, trembling and emotive.

The climbing synth chords propel the music up, rising in hopeful warmth, lending the music a sacred feeling. I feel a profound sense of tranquility from this track as the string-like synths gently swirl together before fading into quiet.

"Yellow Lines In Paradise"

“Yellow Lines In Paradise" begins with a dancing, metallic synth playing a rapidly shifting note pattern. A deep bass rises amidst the swelling light as the trembling, oscillating synths shimmer above the brightness. Maxx Silver’s voice is full of encouragement, softly touching as the drums tap and flow in an easy line.

The organ-like feeling of the synths adds depth and fullness that enhances the song’s uplifting sensation. The drums skip along as Silver’s voice smoothly exudes emotion. The shine emanating from the raised synth brightens the song as it carries the melody.

I enjoy the feeling of airy light as the drums shape the arrangement. Slowly descending notes linger in glittering orbs above the misty background before the drums start. Metallic, repeating high notes accent the music as they tumble through and the drums keep pulsing before the song ends.

This is a song about struggling from darkness into light. The narrator talks about how “the clouds that move across the sky” can bring rain one day, but the next day it’s dry. He tells the song’s subject that though their “hopes have been sinking into the ebbing tide,” they can watch as the tide turns and “brings you back to light.”

I enjoy the imagery in the line that says “to come this far and find there’s yellow lines in paradise.” He continues by saying that if one follows “these roads that lead across your life” the wounds they’ve inflicted on themselves will heal and “you have thrown away the knife.” As the song ends, the narrator tells the other person that “every silver lining has its cloud, tell yourself it doesn’t matter now.”

Conclusion

Mind Pictures features powerful, emotional soundscapes filled with engaging tones, timbres and textures interweaving with expressive singing and well-written songs.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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