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Synth EP Review: A.D. by MacReady

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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

MacReady’s A.D. is an EP full of contrasts and many layers of synth sound along with electric guitar that leaps and growls into the music. There are some very light, delicate touches and times when the energy rises into a howling crescendo but the recording maintains a sense cohesion and a good variety of different moods and sonic textures as it moves along.

The high quality guitar work on A.D. is the first element that stood out for me. Sometimes it acts in a supporting role to add textures and depth to the music and at other times, the solos are flying, shredding and fierce as they cut through the other elements of the EP. Either way, the tones are interesting and the playing shows a high level of skill that I appreciate when I hear it.

Another element of A.D. that I find enjoyable is the way in which the full palette of synth sounds is used to create a rich sound and strong imagery. There are a diverse variety of synth tones and timbres that run the gamut from shining to shadowed. Each of these different elements interweaves with the others to produce a whole that has nuance and depth to it. The layering effect works very well here.

There’s an overall feeling to this album that seems to emphasize the contrasts between light and darkness, airy breaths and rougher edged sounds and between melancholy and more upbeat qualities. I enjoy how sometimes these varied elements exist in the same song, just as they often do in our lives.

Track by Track Analysis

“Everything’s Heavy” opens on the sound of rushing wind sweeping through as a high and warm synth with a drifting quality and a chiming feeling moves in a slowly shifting pattern over a steady bass pulse. The guitar here gently sings with warmth and softness and I like the lead synth melody’s combination of brightness and a touch of sadness. There are delicate xylophone-like notes that sparkle in the background and breathy fluting synths play a slowly moving pattern. There’s something breathing in this track that I am drawn toward.

Floating, ethereal and softly distorting synths shimmer as “A Ghost” opens. There’s an immediate contrast with a driving rough edged synth bass pulse that comes in along with the steady tick of drums. I enjoy how the open synth sound spins out an evolving pattern over that uneven pulse and the drums establish a unique pulse of their own. There’s a flickering chime playing a gentle, soft series of melodic notes that coalesce into a gently moving line. The high chiming sounds adds a nice brightness to the breath and soft air of the track.

“Let It Die” starts off with reverberating, vibrating, hollow-sounding synths that move out into space as a warmly glowing melody that has a rising quality to it slides into the music. I like the whirling arpeggio that revolves like the stars as high, chiming and delicate melody comes in. The drums throb and a fuzzed out guitar shifts in the background, adding a rougher distorting edge.

There’s depth and weight to the drum throb as that guitar drifts and twirls along and the deep wave of bass is joined by a slightly aching melody. I enjoy the contrast as a guitar solo slides and dances over the more dynamic beat and everything charges forward with new energy. Eventually rough distorting pulses cut into the music and fade, cut and fade as we break to distorted noise and bleeps.

There’s a combination of light and melancholy again as “Requiem” opens as rising, falling patterns of notes spin out through the music. The steady pulse of a single repeating note is joined by flashes of higher drifting synth and deep drums that batter into the track in bursts. High synth notes add a sense of tension and the drums are extraordinarily powerful over a throbbing, oscillating bass line.

I like how the electric guitar growls into the music and that high lead synth plays a sad melody over the churning bursts of the guitar. All of these patterns of sound interlock and move around one another. The track breaks into a flowing section before the drums slam in and the track begins to rock hard. A climbing, charging lead synth solo leaps and flies into the track followed by the guitar solo that cries out as it slices and shreds in intense power before the drums move in heavily again and that synth melancholy continues.

Verdict

A.D. showcases MacReady’s ability to create lush, layered and complex synth-based music along with their skills at generating an atmosphere and that excellent guitar work. If this is a taste of what an upcoming album of theirs will be like, I am on board.