Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark this act is previously unknown to me and a quick attempt to find further information failed to reveal much else. Redacted Dream is their debut album so without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
The first track, “Odyssey,” opens the album with delightful “radio signal scanning” -type of ambient sound that gives a nice touch right off the bat. I understand the offset drums try to generate a feeling of recalling a dream, as if the memory of those dreams would be corrupted, but in my opinion this could have been achieved in other means also. It is lovely and admirable for musicians to not follow the strict and static tempo pattern, and simply go by the feel of the music and how it flows. That being said, some of the offset hits there do come across as if played sloppy, and does not create a natural groove together with how the other instrumentation should work.
I bet this is because the other instrumentation does not follow the similar offset feel, and therefore, comes across as a bit uncanny and even disturbing to a trained ear. Thankfully, there are a lot of moments where this natural flow and offset beat does work and sounds pleasant to my ears. It is the very balance between kick, snare and the synth hits that still need to be able to flow according to each other, and I feel at times this union between them are being violated a bit too much.
The offset between the rhythm of the synth and the beat is particularly disturbing to me in the song, “Velocity.” Again, there’s nothing wrong with tempo not being static, as long as the instrumentation follows the beat within a reasonable range. This one does go over the fence a bit too much, in my opinion, making it difficult to enjoy. It is unfortunate since the tonal balance of the song is otherwise pleasant and the mood is very nice.
After a bit rough start to settle into this, thankfully, “Discovery” demonstrates a proper judgement on how the offset tempo is done well. I think right here, Neon Noir succeeds with the delivery on how they obviously intended, and the mood is great. This would make a good moody Saturday afternoon hangout theme for some chilled out car ride through the city for sure.
Next comes, “Blankness.” Love those basslines in the beginning! They manage to make a huge impact opening the path to the grandiosity of those droning synths. Very deep, nice and rich pads lay down an immensely dramatic soundscape that I find pleasant to immerse myself in. I thought “Discovery” was starting to take the cake out of the album, but this just stole the spot in my heart. I just wonder what that Morse code is saying.
“Dither” demonstrates again how the instrumentation should follow the beat even when the beat is offset. It gives off a good musical vibe of the song struggling to move forward, and does a good job with it. Okay, there are a couple of renegade hits here and there that jolt me out of the mood, and that I don’t agree with, but I appreciate the experimental nature of this. Especially all the trippy pitch shift synths—it makes your mind drift into somewhere else alright!
I really do like the work with the basslines on this album, as it is very lively in many parts and makes the songs breathe along with it nicely.
If I had to pick a single from the album it would definitely be “Ascendancy”! I love how the song starts with that hit -vibe. Together with a stronger beat–both kick and drum–I can’t see why this wouldn’t work great for dance floors. Unfortunately, as the mix stands in the album version, the heavy synths dominate over the beat to a degree that it may even take away from the dance experience a little too much. I love the sound and the spirit of this track, and I just wish there would be a version for the dance floors in the future!
Last up is, “Oblivion.” What a ominous name. Let me buckle in and get ready… Okay. Ready. I like the work with the synths again. A sudden pitch down manages to express those dreamy and corrupted memory -like feelings.
This album is designed as a complete experience of trying to remember a dream, and expresses the corruption of that memory. This concept is very grand, and it would’ve been cool to hear some voice samples here and there to inform the listener about trying to remember the dream, or guiding the listener along the journey. Perhaps this is something Neon Noir might experiment with in future projects. It isn’t necessary but would add another level of enjoyment, I think.
I also wish to write about the album art, even though this isn’t something I’d normally comment on. I bring it up because the art really suits the concept and style of the album. The artwork helps to express the grand idea that inspired Neon Noir to create this album. In fact, the album would go so well with imagery that a short film would likely be an impressive experience.
All in all, this album makes for a nice, chill soundtrack to enhance the mood. I’m interested to see what they come up with next. The album is available to stream on Spotify and you can purchase or stream the album on Bandcamp.
Review written by:
Starwing Digital staff writer
June 3, 2019