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Synth Album Review: "More Than A Feline" by Cat Temper and guests

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Initial Impressions

Cat Temper’s More Than A Feline album is a entertaining synth-filled romp through the adventures and moods of feline kind. He has many talented guest collaborators working with him on the album and the result is musically well-executed, sonically sharp and brimming with humour and excellent vocal performances from all of the guests.

The best part about More Than A Feline is that Cat Temper and his collaborators are clearly having fun. The lyrics that have been written for each song by the guests embody humour and unbridled enjoyment. There’s a great deal of creativity and its clear that the singers are putting their heart and enjoyment into their performances, each guest having created their own unique vocal melodies as well.

The quality of the guest artists is another reason why More Than A Feline is so enjoyable as a listening experience. They are all musical talents in their own right and each of them brings a fresh musical perspective to the album. I can’t really highlight any one of them specifically because they are all damn good!

Cat Temper manages to match all of the backing tracks of the songs to the unique qualities of the lyrics and vocal styles of the guest artists. He captures the essence of each song through well-crafted synth melodies and harmonies, powerful drums and sonic palettes that suit the emotion and sensibility of the stories being told.

Track By Track Breakdown

"Sweet Cheetah" starts off with shining arpeggios that have a chiming feeling and an almost classical sensibility. We move into drifting space as synths rise and glow while deep oscillation of bass moves under those shifting arpeggios. The rapid beat pulsates in steady waves to support Oceaside85’s strong, energetic vocals and now that growling electric guitar matches the waves of the beat with gruff pulses.

Fun, playful lyrics define this song. I enjoy the hunting imagery and the lines, “I hope that you’re sincere with what you want ‘cause my heart can’t take another shred.” There’s also that contrast we feel when madly in love between “I’m feeling fine, I’ve lost my mind.”

Again the hunter is closing in as the narrator says, “Looks like you won’t give up until I’m yours, oh my God! You just need to get a grip.” The narrator pleads, “Don’t you play with my heart. Don’t you leave me in the cold.”

High bursts of bright synth kick off “Cat’s Eye” along with an active bassline and some metallic synth arpeggios as deep wells of bass move below. Swayze always nails his vocals and this song is no exception. The arpeggios keep whirling over the steady throb of the beat and drive the track onwards. I dig the funky guitar solo that Swayze adds to the track as well.

As befits an album with a feline theme, here’s another song about a hunter. Our narrator doesn’t deny being a hunter and adds, “I’ve been searching for a lover and I’m hunting you tonight. He says that he can’t forget the image and that “the thought of you excites, caught in the cat’s eye.”

Our narrator has a warning as he says “There’s a killer in the night. Take cover, take shelter. Just be prepared for fight or flight.” He also warns to “keep your wits about you” because it will make you “question everything you thought you knew was real.”

The object of his hunting is told that “I see you and I feel you” so she doesn’t have to put on a show and that it doesn’t matter “if you try to change my mind or if you run and hide” because “The hunt is on now, ready set go!”

Our narrator is feral as he says, “You can spend all night just trying to shake me, but I think I’ll stay.”

“Claws Out” comes alive with an oscillating pulse synth that's joined by Jennifer Maher Coleman’s mysterious-sounding voice that slides in, the vocal melody minor and sultry, as that synth pulse is joined by a reverberant beat that bursts in, cuts out and bursts back in again.

There are dense, rising drifts of synth warmth over Jennifer Maher Coleman’s well done, energetic and expressive vocals and chip tune sounds that flutter through. I am drawn to the deep bass segment that hits the track adding shadows and weight before we return to that moving, metallic synth line.

There’s a fun interplay of cat themes in this song. Our feline narrator is drawn in and pushed away as she says, “Your cold, cold eyes, they cut right through.I can’t approach when you’re in a mood” but she adds, “I want to come close, baby it’s true.”

The object of her affections has their claws out and so she can’t get close. In frustration, she says, “I put it all out baby. Why can’t you come here?” There is a fun cat-related pun and as our narrator admits, “Maybe I’m kitten myself. Maybe it’s not meant to be.” She finishes by saying, “I know that your love might draw blood. Maybe...you’re just like me!”

Rapid, throbbing synth pulses start “Nine Lives" off while a rising flow of higher synth moves over them and a deep bass pulsation adds more sonic texture to the track. Juan Cezar (of Frisky Monkey) lends his deep, rich New Wave vocal style to the music, really fitting nicely with the lyrics. Now a mechanistic synth line comes in and pulses along with fuzzed-out guitar. I feel that the way the hollow, laser-like synth sounds move in wandering drifts before establishing a more solid melody adds aural interest to the track.

A hidden hunter waits, lulling their victim into a false sense of security before they strike. Our unfortunate victim is “lulled into submission’ by the “surrender in your eyes” while being “compromised by your acts of contrition.”

The subject of this song is callous with other people’s hearts as they seek, “a fresh start running through your nine lives” and all that matters is that as “your next victim arrives… adrenaline floods your senses” with no thought for the consequences.

Our hunter is “strutting your stuff all over town” and after hunting their prey, they leave behind “a trail of crumpled sheets.” The song concludes with the lines, “You pay no mind to the havoc that you wreak. Pleasure is all you seek."

"Purrfect Crime" opens on bursts of static and an expanding synth line that ebbs and flows out under Casey Desmond’s smooth, sensuous voice. The French vocals were a nice touch as well. The circular-feeling, expanding synth now moves into a flowing wash under Casey Desmond's strong vocals. The floor filling beat is joined by deep bass to add depth to the music.

A sense of seduction and pursuit fills this song. Our narrator makes her desires quite clear as she says, “If I had my way with you, I’d sit around and binge ya. Sweep you off your feet, like a sexy l’il ninja.” There’s something very flirtatious in the lines, “When I get you in my mouth, I swear you won’t be wanting out.”

Again the message of desire is pretty clear in the lines, “I get hungry when I prowl and guess who I’m prowlin’ now? My paws, my jaws all over you until you’re breathless in my jowls.”

The feeling of passion pours from the words, “I’ve got you backed against the wall. I want it now, I want it all” and then we find that “The purrfect crime feels so divine. You’re purrfect when you’re mine.”

The sense of a waiting hunter is clear in the lines, “I’ve been watching from the shadows. I bet you could use some love” as she says, “squeeze me, please me, don’t go easy.”

Hard-edged, broken synth bursts add an uneven sensation to the music as "Slaves to the Feline Race” begins. The dark weight of Gulf Blvd singer Mitch Keith's voice is joined by a throbbing beat which adds a shadowed quality to the song as brighter pulses of sharp-edged synth cut into the track with minor key drama.

A guitar growls under the depth of the lead singer’s voice which is effectively contrasted by brighter, nervous synth line that wriggles that through the music. For good measure, there’s a dramatically howling guitar added to the mix.

Anyone who has ever owned a cat will understand this song. The manipulative nature of cats is well-reflected in the words, “One push over the edge is all it takes me. I laugh until you’re dead.” I got a good chuckle out of the lines, “It satiates me like a bird with a severed head.”

Once again, the puns hit home in the form of “if to-meow-ow never comes, my last ball of yarn has come undone” before a typically feline sentiment is expressed in the words, “So open up the cans and just pray for the next nine lives. You’re my human slave.”

I was entertained by this line, “One bad trip on catnip, now I’m depraved” as well as the idea that “with one flick of my whisker, now you’re enslaved.” As the song ends, our feline terror explains that “I’m the pick of the litter and I’ve gone astray. You’re my piece of human clay.”

“Doom Puma” starts with aggressive synths and CZARINA’s chanted, powerful vocals. Her expressive voice drops briefly to a whisper over the darkness of the harsh synths and expanding, bouncy chip tune sounds. A pounding beat hits the song as CZARINA’s vocal melody is doubled by the chip tune melody in an ear-grabbing way.

The undeniable ninja nature of all cats is the subject of Doom Puma. Our feline friend tells us, “I’m Doom Puma, the killah ninja. Fast like lightning, night vision hunting, stealth mode frightening.” Our narrator makes the point clearer if we didn’t get it as she says, “You won’t hear me coming as your heart is thumping, there’s no escaping.”

The attack will be ferocious as Doom Puma says, “My claws go slashing, my fangs go biting. Your flesh goes ripping, your blood starts spurting” but you won’t see it coming as she watches from the darkness. She makes it clear that “I’m here to kill ya!”

Her threats continue unabated as she’s come to “change the game, my fangs are here to drain” despite foolish human illusions that “Kitty just wants to play!” As cat owners know, it is a cardinal error to mistake cats as “cute and cuddly” because really they’re “dark and deadly.”

Ultimately Doom Puma has to remind us that she’s “dangerous as can be…evil times three” and warns, “Don’t domesticate me, I will eat you either way.”

Long washes of synth and an sharp-edged sound cutting through them start off “Big Bad Cat.” Upon Eventual Collapse’s voice slices into the track over expanding synth sounds. I’m a fan of the minor, twisted vocal melody of this song while the distorting chime sounds add an intriguing mechanistic feeling to the music.

All cats, big or small, have the same attitude…or is that catitude. This song reflects it as our feline narrator reminds us, “This beast of prey was born to kill, his body sleek ripped muscle and steel…” and adds in no uncertain terms, “This big bad cat rules the night.”

Our feline king is out prowling the night because he “can’t deny his instincts, obligate carnivore” and “his body’s tense. He sees his mark. He’s a big bad cat with a fatal bite.” All of his prey had best beware because “they never see him coming unless he wants to be found.”

He’ll always get what he wants and “they never see him coming ’til he’s already pounced."

Rapid, steady synth oscillations drive into the music of “Space Catets” as the steady pulsing beat is joined by drifting sounds and Violet Candide’s repeated. chanting vocals.

High nervous sounds move through now as the beat and bass keep throbbing. I really enjoy the style of the vocals here as those high bursts of synth move over the dense edges of the low synth underneath it.

Now we have the tale of the heroic “Space Catets” as they start “leaving the Earth in catapods, taking off for the stars, saving planets from evil rats.” This galactic phalanx of felines goes “purring through the multiverse in crochet fluffy boots and preventing space catastrophe in golden furball suits.”

"The Swarm of Ulthar" opens with rapidly moving synth lines and slamming beat. The growling ferocity of the Vessel’s voice suits his lyrical material well as pounding industrial synth sounds moves underneath it. High nervous synth twists are joined by an aggressive, slicing guitar while the beat pounds on. Choral vocal sounds add extra drama while The Vessel’s voice snarls through the song.

H.P. Lovecraft’s tale of the terrible revenge of the cats of Ulthar is the basis for this song. After a kitten is killed by the cat-killing couple in the tale, the cats of the town have had enough. They cry, “Afraid for far too long, they’re only human and we are gods.”

They growl that now “this young one’s death is a step too far” and “we know their home, we know it well. Tonight we go in for the kill.” They know that their claws are sharp and they’ll see justice done. Their battle cry is this, “Kins of Bastet surround the house. There’s no escape for we are legion!” Invoking a powerful ancient Egyptian lioness headed goddess they roar, “In the name of Sekhmet we’ll have revenge. The Swarm of Ulthar will be your end.”

Verdict

More Than A Feline is one of those albums that combines serious musical chops with a sense of fun and humour. All of the guest artists bring unique vibes to the party and the whole recording is a pile of pleasure to listen to!

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