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Synth EP Review: "Ultima" by Second Solstice

Karl loves food, writing, and writing about food. He has been doing so for over 10 years!


Second Solstice ’s Ultima surges with shadowy power, charges on throbbing drums and bass and is full of richly varied synths. There are strong melodies and delicate moments along with gigantic energy and propulsion.

“Ultima” begins with a rapidly oscillating, hard-edged synth line that tumbles through the track before the gigantic, slamming drumbeat hits. The shattering wall of noise is broken by a warm, round synth playing a mournfully drifting note pattern. Dynamic, bursting sounds crackle with energy and a digital, medium-high synth carries the leaping melodic line.

A segment in which glittering, distantly drifting arpeggios are sliced by stuttering, gritty sonic pulses comes in before delicate, elevated synth sparkles and falls through the music. The electric guitar howls out a writhing line of slow, powerful notes over growling bass depths and pounding drums. A wildly wandering synth solo flies along with the rapid beat. The track moves through a quick tangle of synth sound before returning to the earlier dynamism again and fading.

Creaky, oscillating synth swells into the music, growing in power along with a sweeping wind to kick off “HELLS.” A throbbing, hard-hitting drum beat supports the creaking, growling notes as a medium-high, digital-sounding synth pulsates in short bursts that echo out into open space. The quickly evolving, uncertain melody is lifted by full, exultant synths.

Digital-sounding synth flickers in and out to adds to the feeling of existing in between darkness and light. Guttural notes growl sharply and the drums drive on. A mournful sensation touches the lead melody and the medium-low synth's trembling, angular vibration adds to the tinge of sadness. Bright chimes flash and the melody drifts between aching and rising as it flows along over the drums.

“Lingering Radiance” opens as powerful arpeggios rise on broad-sounding, medium-high synth and a rich bass flow shifts as the arpeggios rapidly whirl. Jagged bass growls under the hard-hitting drums and a bright, intertwining synth melody with a feeling of forward motion launches. The music moves to a segment in which the roughly grating, battering bass and the solid pounding of the drums move with a metallic sound.

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The guitar howls out a twirling, cascading melody that climbs with triumphant energy over the weight and drive beneath it. The track moves from twisted, guttural weight into a drifting synth melody but the bass is still ferocious. Distant, elevated synth repeats as the bass whirls out in a rough line and the synths above it oscillate and leap. The guitar melody flies out in a shining, leaping line that majestically soars above the driving power of the drums and bass, all the elements mingling and joining in a wild, surging rush.

An unevenly pulsing, creaking synth cuts in as “Reconfigure” starts out. Ethereal, bright synth chords rise in minor key drifts as the creaking synth forms a strong rhythmic pulse along with the strong drums. A trickling wash of nervous, shining notes tumbles down through the music as a wandering, wide-sounding synth carries an oscillating, wriggling note pattern. The insistent drum and bass throb pushes on along with a slap bass briefly cutting in.

A melody that flits between darkness and light unfolds on medium-high synth. There’s a break into an easy, gentle piano melody over a swirling background. Shadowed, pained synth twists through while the background synths reverberate. There’s a return to the “A” section melodic pattern that shivers through, tense as it writhes over the bass throb and drum pulse. The track ends on the powerful heartbeat of creaky synth.

“Despair Event Horizon” kicks off with rapidly oscillating, digital-sounding synth carrying quick notes that sweep and slips over airy flows. The gliding sounds are underpinned by huge drums and a well of dense bass. The higher synths flicker and flutter in a tightly woven tapestry as the solid throb of the heavy bass and powerful drums guides the music. A quick trickling synth line falls through and the throbbing drive of the drums and bass moves.

A stentorian voiceover adds a sense of dark majesty to the track. The maelstrom of guitar launches a muscled melodic line that churns and slams over the equally punchy drums and bass. The music flows back into breathy, delicate notes that drift out before and the guitar slices in.

Glowing notes feel full and shining as again the heaving tide of drum and bass launches the track on. High above, the guitar leaps and whirls, full of yearning as it climbs. A wild storm of angular, angry notes now pours from it before silence reigns.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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