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Synth Album Review: "Oneiros" by Honey Beard

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

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Overall Impressions


Honey Beard’s Oneiros is full of painful emotion, richly interwoven synths that express more feeling and lyrics that mingle melancholy, loss and dreaming. I felt a strong connection to the sensations and expression in the music which drew me in and held me close.

The vocal performances on Oneiros are the first aspect of the album that attract my attention. They are often tremulous and delicate, but those qualities serve to enhance the emotive expression in the lyrics. When they are stronger, they serve to punch home the feelings present in the words that are being sung.

The lyrics to the songs on the album are rich with verbal imagery, full of mixed emotion and fully explore the fraught nature of human existence. The words are woven together in a way that captures the challenge, pain and hope that fill our lives. I find myself listening carefully to them to extract the full meaning within them.

Honey Beard’s musical expression on Oneiros creates a sonic bed on which the vocals and lyrics can rest. There are aching, tenuous synth melodies floating over percussion that adds direction and bass that supports the other music elements. The synth palette moves from gruff growl to coruscating light and from organic sounds like xylophone and piano to harder and more obviously synthetic sounds.

My Favourite Songs Analyzed

“Half Life” comes into being as broad, medium-high synths carry an accelerating arpeggio that whirls up faster and faster as warm, swelling synth chords glow into the music in a slow line. The chords wash over the spinning arpeggios in a shining, slightly hurting line as a deep bass oscillation shifts and a kick drum’s solid heartbeat throbs. The full drum kit comes in to provide an even beat that adds direction to the music.

The singer’s tremulous voice carries the lyrics and captures their feelings in a expressive fashion that attracts me. The vocal melody is full of painful emotion and aching sensation. A delicate, metallic chime carries a floating pattern of notes as the vocalist’s voice is rich a mixture of shadowed, mournful feelings. The shimmering synths flash before the spinning arpeggio slows and comes to a full stop.

A tangle of pained, desolate emotion pervades the lyrics of this song. In this “half life” the narrator cries out to be held once more as his mouth “is full of god and brine” implying drowning. He says that the other person prayed they "wouldn’t see this day” and adds that “since we hit the deep” he just wants to sleep but instead he’s “counting endless days.”

Our narrator issues the plea to be held down and have the life drowned “out of my eyes” because he doesn’t want to “stay here in vain.” He talks about how he’s surrounded by “the poison of the left and right” and the “virtue” in their scorn and spite. The narrator asks for the other person to “close the door and turn out the lights.”

The feeling of emptiness is powerful as the narrator talks about being caught between his hopes and dreams “high up in the thermosphere” for “a thousand million lonely years.” In a strong image, our narrator says that the “face of death is full of stars.” He asks for someone to tell him where the stars are and plaintively requests for someone to “set me free to the dark.”

Wide open, echoing space surrounds an unevenly bouncing synth as “Until Summer” opens. A xylophone carries a resonant, rippling melody that exudes sunny brightness as it dances along. Drums burst into the music, guiding it, while a dense wave of grit-edged bass rises. The vocals are smooth and gentle.

I find the vocals so tender as they caress my ears while gliding, relaxed sounds sail along. The xylophone has a woodsy sensation to its sound and the vocals are melancholy over top of it. The vocal melody is soft and full of nostalgic ache while the resonant synths play a bouncing line.

Shimmering, yearning synth chords wash into the music and imbue it with light, climbing over the bass depth and pulsing drums. The song fades out on spinning synth and washing waves, along with the xylophone’s sound.

Pure yearning for the warmth and ease of summer pours from the lyrics here. I find the images of the ice as a song bird while the “light now shines longer” compelling. The narrator talks about how he’s full of “summer ease” and his “final dreams are made of these.”

Our narrator talks of how he is impatient for the summer so he can feel warm grass on his feet and feel “the star kissing on my cheek.” In a melancholy twist, the narrator says he can hear children “playing on the swing” and he sees “the end of days has come for me.”

As the song concludes, he reiterates that he can’t wait for the summer and ends by saying “give me life.”

"Slipstream Of A Daydream” commences as rough-edged, gleaming synth drifts in trembling lines out into open space. A round, rich-sounding synth carries separated pulses and the delicate vocals are touchingly heavy with pained emotional colours. The drum pulse has a distant and fragile quality to it.

The vocal melody has a light touch as a wash of windy sound moves below the string-like synth that repeats a tenuous note pattern, off in the distance. A piano carries a floating, hurting melody and the full vocals are heavy with melancholy.

A vaulting, medium high, shimmering arpeggio flickers rapidly as the feathery piano notes touch the song. All of the sonic elements interlock into a lush, powerful whole that reverberates out into space. The song ends on drifting vocals and a metallic, spinning arpeggio.

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As if the narrator has fallen into a surreal dream he asks where he is as there is “silver in my eyes, slowly floating by.” He talks about taking a drink to “sip of the slipstream” and letting the river flow. The song mentions the ancient Greek personification of sleep “Hypnos” to whom the narrator addresses the request to “unburden me of memory.”

Our narrator talks about there being “too much pain in memory” that the “shades of death” will never know. He talks about how he hasn’t paid the price for the “silver in my eyes.” The narrator goes on to ask the river to wash his “pain in memory” clean. At the song’s end he calls out “to oblivion” and concludes that “forever will the river run.”

Shadowy, rough bass tides flow under a throbbing drumbeat as broad, brightly glowing synth moves in thick waves to start “Dark Tides.” The vocals rise while a tense, quickly turning arpeggio keeps spinning as chimes flicker and shine out above the oscillating synth and bass. The solid drumbeat keeps propelling the music forward and glistening synths move in an undulating pattern over the bass depths.

The vocals are tinged with hurt as they tremble, effectively capturing the lyrical emotions of the song. A thick sonic pulse is carried on a low, round synth that repeats into the music and the drums throb and the bass growls. The active bass adds dynamism and the vocals add another level of drama. Elevated synths shimmer and cry out into silence.

The words of this song speak of depression and struggle. The narrator says he’s “caught in the slip of no reason” and being stretched to the “thinnest horizon.” He is caught in between “black skies, dark tides.” Our narrator talks about being caught “in the wake of denial” and stretched right to “the point of survival” as he is “treading the dark tides” which according to the lyrics “bode black skies.”

In an interestingly written passage, the narrator mentions that he’s cut off his hands for the demons because “payment for reaching is treason.” What’s he reaching for? His own demons. Now our narrator says he’s “biding my time” for the black skies and leaving what’s is for the “dark tides.” He calls out to “let them collide.”

“Free Of Form” comes to life as a warm, uplifting synth sings out in a medium-high, gently shining melodic pattern and a steady bass pulsation moves in a flowing line. The big drumbeat pushes the song into medium tempo motion and the fragile, caressing vocals move in.

I am drawn to the way the vocals brim with soft emotion and lightly touch the ears. A gleaming, sunny synth dances through the song and the full synths carry the hopeful melody. The vocals have a richness to them that emphasizes the emotive quality of the lyrics as they echo out in with a floating feeling. Light suffuses the music as the bright synths intertwine.


The words of this song are full of a sense of freedom as the narrator talks about how “we’re golden passages of bright light” dancing on “the edge of a Friday night.” The images call up dancers moving all night long. The narrator says that not all of them make it back home at night or “make it to the bright white light.”

Our narrator reminds us that “we’re all falling since the day we’re born” as he talks about being “lost in a cosmic thunderstorm.” I am drawn to the imagery in the lines, “wishing I was fire, free of form” as the narrator again talks about how “we don’t all make it to the bright white light.”

A drifting, soothing distant wash of full, round synth moves below the tremulous, shivering vocals to commence “Rot Away.” Undulating bass with a gruff edge moves below tapping drums to help shape the music. The bass waves keep washing and the slowly turning arpeggios move in the quiet, open space.

Synths glitter and rise in a cloud of starry brightness that I find quite effective in heightening expression. The drums gain more energy as they guide the music and diamond chimes sparkle while the vocals float and ache. Round synths turn in the distance and a string section adds dense, luscious texture while the raised synths move and then fade.

Our narrator is struggling but also full of resolve to remain and stay strong. He calls out for someone to hold out their arm for him as he’s “falling and…so very broken.” He asks “can you light the fire when we’re under water?” which, for me, emphasizes the feeling of being inundated while trying to keep life kindled. He also asks if the other person can hear the drowned “bloated residents of that situation underneath the sea.”

Our narrator promises the other person that he’s not there to fall or “rot away.” He repeats this idea like he’s willing it to be true. He adds that he won’t run away or “leave you in my darkness… where they all rot away.”

Conclusion

Oneiros is an album that asks deep questions about what it is to be human and experience the feelings associated with our lives. The album combines emotive vocals, beautiful lyrics and a musical backing that is full of feeling to tell tales about being alive.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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