VNV Nation – Praise the Fallen (1998 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: n/a






Introduction: VNV Nation. This is going to be an odd review for me. I’ve been exploring my favorite artists’ discographies in chronological order (technically this isn’t the debut album as the first album was re-released with some bonus tracks, so I’ll take care of the true debut later), but the issue with VNV Nation is that Ronan’s first couple albums are drastically different in style over the first few years. It doesn’t even sound like the same artist at many points. So, while I actually prefer VNV Nation over some of the other artists I’ve looked at (Andy Hunter and Ashbury Heights), this debut album will be far worse than Exodus and comparable in quality to the all too edgy Three Cheers for the Newlydeads.


Usually the VNV in VNV Nation stands for “Victory, not Vengeance.” Today, I’m not so certain.


VNV Nation – Chosen (6): VNV Nation begins this album with an ambient story. Almost makes it seem like this artist is going to be another narrative discography like, but that’s not the case this time around. This is just one song that tells one story. A story about war.


In no way, does VNV Nation romanticize war in this song. It is displayed as a disgustingly horrifying aspect of humanity (or lack thereof). Chosen specifically tells the story of a city that has been conquered by the enemy. All its citizens live in constant fear of the brutal army that has overpowered them. Fear for their life, and fear for whether any semblance of justice and reasons exists. Comparisons are made to the most devastating natural disasters, and yet, it’s clear to see that Ronan views the nature of war to be on another level of horror. There doesn’t seem to be any victory in this story. Only defeat. It’s kind of on the lesser end of VNV Nation songs lyrically, but for this album it’s par for the course


The music however, is quite good. It definitely stands out as one of the relaxing bookends of this album (most songs have the same driving drumbeat that’s absent here). There’s a good combination of ominous bass and eerie melodies throughout much of the song. And he strings in the background give a sense of beauty to the track despite the fact that the lyrics demonstrate the clear opposite of beauty. They get their own highlight for the second half of the song once the story has concluded. And as the track dies down it concludes with a piano


VNV Nation – Joy (3.25): Joy is a lot harsher than Chosen. Much of the album has this edgy monotonous drumbeat, making the entire album seem a bit angry actually. So much for “Victory not Vengeance.” There is little variety in this song to get into. The beat begins to drone on between the same kick and snare (with the only occasional variation (like the rapidfire build-up near the beginning of the song but that was kind of annoying anyways, so it barely counts). Other than that, there’s a few basslines, but none of them really strike me as anything worthwhile. There’s a melody in there every once and a while but it only gets to exist for a couple of seconds at a time. Really the strings are the only saving grace in this song. They come in every once and a while to provide a little bit of beauty and they’re greatly appreciated. However, that only undoes some of the edginess that permeates through this song


That edginess comes from the depressing lyrics. Honestly, the only joy I can hear in this song is that I’m pretty sure that the choir is singing the word “Joy” at the beginning. Everything else is extremely edgy. It’s not Ashbury Heights levels of glorifying of depression, but the nihilism is definitely present. Countless times in the song, Ronan questions whether any positivity in love is still worth it when there’s so much pain in the world. He describes a situation in which he finds no meaning in life. He compares it to a never-ending war, in which he is losing.


And honestly that goes against everything VNV Nation would come to stand for.


There is no victory.


Just vengeance.


VNV Nation – Procession (6.25): Procession starts out well enough with a lot of focus on melody. This melody comes from a soothing collection of the strings that have so far been the highlight of this album. And yet, they don’t sound quite like strings either at points. It’s still the most beautiful part of the song (though that’s not saying much. And that’s even with the odd siren tone pulsing in the background. I feel like I should have a problem with that, but I really don’t mind at all. Overall, this is a nice break from the pulsing uninteresting drumbeat that plagues this album.


A nice one-minute break…


Fine. I guess I’m being a bit harsh. This song actually does have a fair amount of variation to it. The drumbeat is still overbearing but all the other instruments have a nice enough variety to them that I can accept that. There’s a second melodic instrument that closes off that first minute that I rather enjoy. It especially does a good job of closing out the song (Yes, my favorite part of the song is when it’s over. That sounds more negative than it is). I also rather enjoy the horn that appears in the chorus.


As for the lyrics, I think we have a continuing unbalance with the vengeance threatening to take over this album. Well, there’s a bit of victory sprinkled in here too. The lines are somewhat blurred and this seems to be one of their more cryptic songs so it’s hard to tell exactly what the message is. I’m definitely going to try and parse through some moments here and there though. The victory in this song seems to focus on trying to remember the heroes who’ve been forgotten. The people that pave a way for new generations to live happily. But such people while perhaps being respected briefly are just as quickly forgotten. It’s hard to tell, but this song comes really close to almost glorifying war which I found to be slightly unnerving at first, but upon second glance, it seems to be more about respecting those who were in war. You know. A Memorial Day thing. There really is less violence and vengence here than I expected.


Except for when we break some worthless necks. Where did that come from?


VNV Nation – Voice (6.5): I really don’t have much specific to say about Voice, which is strange because it is one of the better tracks on the album. Parts of this song, specifically the arp, wouldn’t feel all that out of place in a song (my current favorite artist as you may have noted me mentioning in previous reviews). There are also a few variations on the arp and a nice driving melody that accompanies the vocals. Unfortunately, the song does get a little repetitive. Could be a bit shorter.


You know what else is repetitive? The lyrics. I’m not going to complain too much as I don’t feel like the repetition of the lyrics bothers me as much as the repetition of the music (though it is further proof that the song would be better if it was shorter). The lyrics in this one are much simpler than the last few songs which is a welcome break. The lyrics are pretty self-explanatory. We are not the same and our voices must be heard. No particular voice rules over the others. We just differ. At least that’s how I’m interpreting it. And I like my interpretation so I’m sticking with it.


VNV Nation – Forsaken (8): Forsaken is one of the two songs on this album to be later featured on The Solitary EP. Because of this, when I started listening to this song, I thought to myself “Oh I know this one.” But I didn’t. The version I knew had much more to it as far as lyrical content goes. This has three spoken lines and that’s it. Not bad though. The most important though provoking part of the song is still maintained so that’s neat.


Music first. I like to leave provoking thoughts until the end. Forsaken is thankfully one of the calmer songs on this album, meaning this break from the drumbeat, unlike the one in Procession, takes up the entire 4 minutes of the song. And it is simultaneously unsettling and beautiful. The unsettling factors in quite immediately as all the song begins with is the main melody of the song accompanied by an unfortunate heart monitor. This main melody is a slight bit irregular and at first, with the ambience surrounding it, it plays well into the ominousness. But not a minute later, combined with the strings and the arp, there’s a peaceful beauty to the whole song. It’s still the same melody but the entire tone has been transformed due to its context and I find that to be quite amazing almost serves as a parallel to the ending of the song and its entire meaning.


Forsaken is about death. This is immediately apparent when the song starts out with a flatlining heart monitor, and it’s explicitly stated in the last moments of the song, which I remember the most. There’s a few lyrics on the way to that journey, one of which I found a bit too cryptic to figure out how it fits (For thirty years, I have plotted to bring down the party. I am sick in mind and body) and the other being so vague there’s nothing much to say about it (Help me).


That final quote at the end (from Jacob’s Ladder) though really does paint a good picture of the unsettling peaceful dichotomy that is death. You can either live your life constantly fearing death, running from it despite the fact that you can’t truly escape, or you can commit your limited time in existence to a goal or meaning. Through that, you can find peace from the chaos of this world and when you reach life’s end, death is easier to accept.


Yeah, this song’s a bit morbid, but it isn’t disgustingly so. I greatly appreciate it as an artful song that sticks out like a strengthened thumb of off the withering hands of this album.


VNV Nation – Ascension (4.75): Seeing as there are no lyrics in Ascension, I’m going to have to look at this song from a musical standpoint alone. I’m not going to have much to say…


The problem is that this song is 8 minutes long. That’s a long time to commit to listening to one song, and the experience I get from this one doesn’t really make it worthwhile. There just isn’t enough distinctive variety in here to justify such a length. It has a bit of interesting progression for a bit as it introduces the various instruments, but that only lasts a couple of minutes. After a certain point the song just plateaus, and it gets harder and harder to maintain interest. I did enjoy some of the bits with the bassline and the strings working together at some points, but over time, the monotony took over. I feel like if the song had more direction, I’d be able to enjoy it more, but otherwise, I can’t bring myself to care.


VNV Nation – Honour (7.75): The word “Honour” looks wrong to me, but that’s my own personal problem as an American speller (though this is the odd case, as I actually prefer colour and theatre sometimes). Ah well, it’s an irrelevant little thought that filled my head for a brief moment.


The music in this one is definitely on the better side of this album. The way the song begins with each of the strings, bassline and drums creeping up behind the main melody does serve as a nice introduction to everything you’re getting into with this song. And that bassline could do a very good job at keeping a good drive to the song, though the drum is so overbearing, it doesn’t really need much help (you could turn that down a little… I know you’ll balance things out in the future… but I’d enjoy this more now if you’d turn it down… he can’t hear me… I’m two decades too late). Ah well, at least it compliments the melody and strings nicely. There’s a recording or two in there related to war as well (those ground troops have got to be well notified by now), but they’re fairly inconsequential to the song’s music or message.


Speaking of the message, Honour is actually the song that I feel most closely follows the “Victory not Vengeance” message that VNV stands for, making it one of the better songs on the album. It still hides behind a wall of war metaphors though, which makes it a bit harder to decipher the message. In fact, the first half of the verse is entirely there to describe the image of the battle that will serve as the backdrop for this song (which takes place in 2012 despite this album coming out in 1998).


The second half of this verse and the chorus are a bit more meaningful, though they do have a slightly inconsistent tone to them. There’s a wavering confidence in these lyrics. At first, the singer voices his concerns of what had happened to justice and reason as the chaos of war had arisen (I still find this particular sentiment to be a bit too relevant today). He then calls on either God or the spirits of those who fell before him (or both maybe) to receive guidance on the attempt to rebuild a world broken by war. As we reach the chorus, the singer is temporarily filled with confidence, letting out a war cry to defend the values he holds dear and yet still in the back of his head there’s some doubt over whether those values are still intact. The whole thing provides for a slightly messy arc though I do think I have a slight hold on the message.


These doubts that plague his mind (as well as my own, this is a bit personal) have not left him even after he’d sought out the path to victory. However, he also continues to stand his ground and keep on fighting for that victory even when those doubts in his head threaten to overtake him. Maybe I’m self-projecting my own struggles in here but the song works regardless.


VNV Nation – Burnout (1): Oh no.


This is very bad.


Perhaps this just isn’t my genre, but this is the worst sounding song I’ve reviewed so far maybe excluding Swansong (even my low rating of Swansong was perhaps generous). But at least Swansong almost lured me in by sounding good on the surface. This on the other hand. I can’t get into this one at all. I already was uncertain of it at the beginning, but then this song did the magical thing of getting worse and worse every second. The drums caught me off guard at the beginning. A bit more violent than I’d normally prefer, but with the right context they could work. This isn’t the right context. This context is filled with loads of instruments that simply don’t work well together. Any ambiance is screechy at best. Any bassline is a bit too gritty and there’s often three of them layered on top of each other in an unfitting manner. And any semblance melody is missing (unless you count that high-pitched swinging ear irritater, which I don’t).


There’s some kind of interrogation going on at the beginning harking from an old classic movie harking back from 1936: Things to Come. I hasn’t seen the film and it was only through happenstance wild goose chase that I was able track down and confirm the source, but I must say that through my research I am quite interested in checking it out so at least some good came of this song. That’s not going to improve this abysmal rating though.


VNV Nation – Solitary (7): You would’ve never guessed this, but Solitary is one of the other two songs on the Solitary EP that I’d heard previously. A song called Solitary on the Solitary EP? Mind-blowing, right? There’s even a version of Solitary on the Solitary EP called Solitude but it’s still Solitary under a different name. I’m not going to go too much over which versions of Solitary I prefer more seeing as there’s four versions of it, but I’ll tell you that this one’s in the middlish as far as I’d rate it. I’ll do more comparisons whenever I decide to get around to that EP (really low priority unless someone requests it via Patreon).


Solitary’s musical structure is rather similar to a lot of the songs on this album. It has a pounding drumbeat made almost completely of kicks. It has some strings that fall and rise at certain points in the song. It has a simple melody that’s played on loop at several points in the song (this one is only three notes though). Add in a bassline and maybe another synth (both of which this song has) and you have your typical Praise the Fallen song. It doesn’t really stand out in any way other than familiarity due to its titular EP. Thankfully, unlike the all too long monotonous Ascension, there’s at least some lyrics to go over this time.


This song is all about change, and if you’ve been reading my reviews, you’ll know I love that topic. In fact, this song shares a lot of similarities with the main themes off of Crossroads, seeing as it’s a song about leaving the guilty past behind and reaching out into the future. Nearly every song on that album was about that subject. Well let’s add another one to the list! Except this one is on a completely different album by a completely different artist and contributes nothing to the narrative whatsoever


My same feelings apply though. I am a strong believer in striving to take control of one’s life and changing it for the better, leaving the past in the dust if you must. The past doesn’t have to define who we are but we, at any point, have the power to define our future.


Overall, I’d say this song is the closest to resembling the modern VNV Nation I’m more accustomed to. It has its flaws but it’s a step towards the modern standard.


VNV Nation – PTF2012 (6): As we head nearer to the close of the album, we only have two calm instrumental songs to review. They’re simple beauties so I’ll be brief. I do want to note one odd thing about this title though. This technically is the titular track of the album. It doesn’t look like it, but there is an alternate title seen in the bottom corner of the album art that matches this song name. PTF is an abbreviation for Praise the Fallen. 2012 is simply a random year that Ronan Harris chose for a once futuristic date to set this album (see Honour).


I don’t want to say this track is just strings even though that technically is true. There are no non-stringed instruments present (actually after listening a couple more times, there might be a horn but I’m not absolutely certain). However, I feel like calling it “just strings” has a somewhat bad connotation to it. The song is beautiful, and it does have a rising feel to it from beginning to end, making it a much better progression than the twice as long “Asscension” from earlier. However, it isn’t especially memorable as nothing particularly sticks out to me. It’s just a decent stringed track cooling us down after all the heavy drumbeats we’ve had.


VNV Nation – Schweigeminute (n/a): I have seen evidence, that this song exists, but I am unable to find it anywhere on the internet. I’d probably have to find a physically copy of the album to hear it. That’s okay though, because it’s apparently just a minute of silence and should hold no weight on my final review score.


VNV Nation – Untitled (6): Wow, what a fantastically interesting title. Really tells you everything you need to know about the song. This is a rather bland conclusion to the album, so I’ll be brief once again. This song suffers a bit from repetition as it perpetually plays the same melody on loop for a good 90% of the song. It has a little bit of musical variety as there’s a second synth that fades in and out like a tide. Because of this, the song almost becomes a soothing relaxing conclusion to the album, but the melody doesn’t quite reach up to its soothing potential. Ah well, still a decent experience overall.


Conclusion: Really a poor start to one of my favorite artists. This is a far cry from what he makes nowadays. I’m all about a bit of edge here and there, but early VNV Nation isn’t quite the edge I’d like from them. VNV Nation usually admits that there’s negative vengeful aspects to life while simultaneously shining light on a path through the pain towards victory and peace. That path is absent from this album. It’s almost entirely focused on the darkness and it simply doesn’t work quite as well as I’d like (though I guess the edge here isn’t as bad as it was in Ashbury Heights’ Three Cheers for the Newlydeads).


The biggest problem with this album is the overbearing drumbeat. I like a good solid drumbeat but this one was too much, and it upset the entire balance of the song, nearly drowning out all of the other melodies, basslines and vocals. The lack of a drumbeat is actually a big part of why Forsaken (the only song on the album to get a rating higher than an 8) stands out.


I would highly recommend some of VNV Nation’s newer albums that have been released in the past decade (Transnational is my favorite). You’d be better off skipping some of the older stuff. I, on the other hand, have an obsession with order, so I shall be trudging through these edgier albums first. Ah well. Next week I plan on a larger scale review of a much better album.


Final Score: (5.75/10)

Andy Hunter – Life (2005 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: n/a




Introduction: Alright, let’s hop right back onto the nostalgia train with Andy Hunter. This album’s a bit shorter at only six songs but perhaps I need a shorter review this week anyway. As I’d mentioned a couple weeks ago in the Exodus review Andy Hunter was my very first EDM artist, so a lot of his earlier stuff is extremely nostalgic to me. His first two albums in particular are the most sentimental to me as I’d discovered them both around the same time (my very first Andy Hunter song was on this album) and seeing as I’d reviewed the first of these two albums, it only makes sense to piggy off that nostalgia into the second (with an apparent intermission form last week but the whole theme of R.E.T.R.O. was nostalgia anyway so it still works).


Andy Hunter – Open My Eyes (7.25): Of course, like with all of his albums, we must begin with a high tempo blood pumper to get the energy flowing for the rest of the album. Unlike Go, which has nearly two minutes of ambience and build-up before running into the upbeat tempo, this song has about… two seconds before bringing that energy into the forefront. The stabbing notes that play in unison with the drumbeat serve as the most memorable aspect of this song as they’re used a few times throughout the song. It’s fun, but honestly compared to many of the other album openers I’ve heard, this one is rather unimaginative. I’m not saying the whole energetic mood is moot because of its compared mediocrity to the rest of Andy’s discography. I just feel like there could have definitely been a few more moments to focus on some slightly more interesting melodies than the pounding stabs. Take the melody starting at 2:50 for example. I could definitely use more of that. And the break that comes in nearly directly afterword is great too


In fact, I think that break is my favorite part of the song. I briefly considered this to be a build-up from nothing, but really, Open My Eyes has a way of going from 0 to 100 quite instantaneously so there’s not really much of a build-up involved. It just sort of happens. But while we’re in that calmer 0 area, there’s some good guitar riffs and strings that provide a nice breather in the middle of the rest of the song. It’s not fantastic, but it does stand out and give an ok bit of variety to the rest of the song. There are perhaps a few other moments here and there that give a little bit of flavor to the song as well, but they aren’t quite as notable as this one.


Open My Eyes also has a few lyrics so I’m going to be taking a brief look at those before moving on to the next song. There’s not excessively much to talk about though. Like I mentioned in Exodus, Andy Hunter does include Christian themes in his music, so this song is quite likely a prayer to God to open his eyes to his glory and to breathe new life into his world. I really don’t have much depth to go into for that though, so we’ll be moving on now.


Andy Hunter – Come On (8): Honestly, I would have preferred it if Andy Hunter had started off the album with this blood pumper. Maybe it’s just because it shares a few similarities with Go, but it also might just be because I prefer the energy in this one over Open My Eyes. Perhaps I’ll get into both of those.


First off, let’s look at the similarities between this and Go, starting off with some of the obvious ones. Even before listening to a single note, the titles give off a similar vibe. Both of them seem to have a sense of urgency. A call to abandon one’s present location and to run somewhere new). Only difference is Go sounds like it calls for one to travel away from the speaker, while Come On beckons one to come with the speaker. Am I reading way too far into this? As always, that’s a definite yes.


There are also some similar musical elements that appear in both this and Go. This song, unlike Open My Eyes, actually takes a slight bit of time to get started. It builds off the ambience that Open My Eyes ended on (more seamless transitions in this album. They never reach the same heights as they did in the last half of Exodus but they still create an enjoyable immersive experience as one song bleeds into the next) and slowly builds up with some suspenseful drumbeats and growing ambience before the song kicks into high gear. Yes, this build-up isn’t even quite half the length as in Go. But that’s a bit better than the practically nonexistent 2 seconds in Open My Eyes.


Plus, there’s more dedication to the breakbeat drumbeat that gave Go a lot of its energy. Open My Eyes had some of this, but it also felt quite regulated to a four on four tempo at some points in the song thanks to the pounding stabs introduced at the beginning of the song. Seeing as I’m quite a fan of some good syncopation, this song gets a bit of an advantage over Open My Eyes. There’s also a build-up from nothing in the middle that works quite similarly to the one in Go, providing a quick step back to the initial build-up to give a breather in the middle of the song.


Other than that, it’s a bit tricky to figure out what to highlight musically. While Open My eyes didn’t really have too much in particular to point out, Come On has so many things to point out that I’m having troubles figuring out what to leave out. First off, one of the most energizing parts of the song is the rapid bassline coming from a distorted guitar underlying much of the song. I swear that this bassline is playing sixteenth notes in relation to the drumbeat and the song was already fast as it was. There’s also a few other good instruments I’d like to highlight including the slower bassline that has one rolling note every measure, as well as the other guitar melody (I think it’s guitar) that comes in for the second half of the song.


Lyrics are rather simple for this one. Come on and Can You Hear Me are both just hype-up phrases with no deeper meaning. 1, 2, 3 and 4… that’s counting. Counting isn’t anything special. The only lyric that has any possible significance is “Your Kingdom Come” which is part of the Lord’s Prayer that refers to God’s future glory. So there is something there, but I have no deeper thoughts on it.


Ah well, the lyrics are inconsequential this round. The music makes this a pretty solid energetic track anyways.


Andy Hunter & Christine Glass – Alive (9.25): This was it. The very first Andy Hunter song to reach my ears. This was the song that started it all with my taste in electronic music. My taste has developed and expanded a lot in the years since, but this beauty still captures my attention to this very day. A combination of things drew me to this song and to Andy Hunter as an artist in general. First off, I hadn’t heard anything like this up until this point in my life. Despite my obsession with music nowadays, I hadn’t really spent much time seeking it out until my early teenage years. Oh, I’ve definitely love music all my life, but in my single digit years, I just listened to whatever my parents put on for a good while (and none of it was electronic). However, once I got an MP3 player of my own, I started broadening my horizons a bit and Alive is what drew me in to Andy Hunter and the many subgenres of electronic music. Alive is where it all began.


The place where Alive begins is off the toes of Come On. One more count-up to four and we head right back into the syncopated drumbeat that we’ve been playing through the entire album so far. However, the tone of the drums has changed slightly. Each drumbeat is played a bit more softly, and the snare is especially toned down a few notches. Oh, and then there’s the toms. The toms are just a fun little treat diverging from what I’ve heard from Andy so far and they give a nice touch to the song here and there. And to top it all off, this song has a surprisingly funky bassline for what I’d consider to be the beauty of the album. Doesn’t really stick to one tone or note so it seems to have a lot of variety to it.


This song also feels a lot less busy in comparison to the last two. It’s a lot easier to parse the various basslines and melodies from one another. And yet, while it is easier to separate the melodies within my mind, they still move as a unified force throughout the song. Perhaps that’s due to the fact that none of the melodies are really arguing over one another. Sure, some melodies are more dominant than others at certain points, but there’s nothing really overshadowed. The main melodies of the song come from a variety of sources. There’s the main synth that shows itself at several points within the song and serves as the most consistent presence of beauty. And in addition to that there’s some strings that rise and fall in the second half, eventually bringing the song to a close. Plus, there’s a piano that graces the song with its presence in the center of the song. That piano is responsible for my favorite moment in the song.


That’s right. It’s another build-up from nothing. The very first build-up from nothing to reach my ears. And I was immediately in love. All of the different instruments unite here with very little influence from the drums. And like, I said, none of them feel like they’re hogging the spotlight from the others. It’s quite impossible to really figure out how to explain how much this section affects my soul as it reaches Angelic levels of beauty (and I’m referring to both the general adjective as well as the song from Exodus). This is simply one of my favorite build-ups in all of Andy Hunter’s discography.


While Christine’s vocals are slightly outshined by that build-up, they still do deserve a mention. You may remember her from Amazing on the last album (she was the one to start off the female vocal half in the middle of the album). Here, her performance is exceptionally better. Her voice has a better chance of drawing me in to a state of calmness. In a way, her own voice can be included as one of the many instruments as her vocals don’t distract from the rest of the song, but she’s not overshadowed by the instrumental either. She’s merely another facet to the beauty that this song encapsulates. The lyrics she sings share a similar theme as they do with amazing. It’s a love song to God (though if you’re not into that thing, it could be heard as a nonsecular love song if you so desire). I don’t have any specific lyrics to point out, so we’ll be moving on.


Andy Hunter & Kate Westwall – Wonderful (7.75): Wonderful is the slowest paced song on this album, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most beautiful and relaxing. Alive already stole that spot. However, a slower song doesn’t have to be exceptionally beautiful and relaxing in order to be good. Wonderful is actually a wonderful example of that.


There is still some beauty to this track. Good use of strings as well as a tropical drumbeat throughout the song. Also really love, the guitar that’s played throughout the song. Not sure if this comparison will really resonate with my audience, but it does somewhat remind me of the type of guitar you’d hear in a lot of popular worships songs a decade or so ago. Lastly, there’s Kate’s lyricless vocals (she’ll contribute to the lyrics later), which give some final touches on the chill atmosphere created at the start of the song. However, many of the instruments introduced later somewhat conflict with this relaxation. Thankfully, it’s not badly executed like Show was. There’s no real interference between the two vibes. The song merely transforms into an ever so slightly more energetic mood.


Now, this slightly more energetic mood is mainly the work of some other synths that feel a little less natural than what I’ve shown so far. This is where the electronic comes in. Two synths here give this song a bit of bounce. There’s the more quickly paced beeping tone melody that’s only present for the chorus, and what sounds to be a synth made of a distorted vocal (you know me and distorted vocals, or you will, I haven’t quite gotten to that era of Infected Mushroom yet). That second synth is the better of the two and it has a more prominent role overall. In the first half of these bouncier sections it just plays a short note here and there along with the other synth, but after that it focuses on much longer notes that soar along with the guitar, creating the most iconic moments of the song in my opinion.


Now, once this slightly energetic transformation does occur, it is nice to see that it isn’t permanent. There are several points where the pure soothing tropical vibe comes back in without the electronic distractions, most notably in the final iteration of the chorus (which also features Kate as a vocalist so neat).


Speaking of the lyrics, this song once again seems to be a love song. It’s a bit simpler in comparison to Alive. Only four lines:


You are beautiful

You’re the reason why

So wonderful

You make me high


That last lyric is a bit odd in my opinion. Perhaps it’s the fact that I know that Andy Hunter is a Christian artist and he likely wouldn’t intentionally try to reference drugs within his music, seeing as that’s what the state of “being high” is often referred to. It’s probably simply meaning a state of emotion that’s supposedly akin to feeling high on drugs. High on love perhaps.


Andy Hunter & Neil Wilson – Lifelight (9.75): This song right here is surely the most nostalgic for me. Of the original sixteen songs I’d discovered at first, this is the one that stood out the most. This is the one I listened to on loop for hours upon hours. This is the one that was once my favorite song of all time. While that title has been usurped by several other songs since then, it still holds its own against the works of the hundreds of artists I’ve discovered over the years.


So, what is it about Lifelight that kept me coming back? It’s simply how powerful the music is. Alive may be more beautiful sure, and that song holds a special place in my heart as well as the song that started it all, but Lifelight is quite close in comparison to that level of beauty. And then it wins in other categories of musical superiority. Alive’s beauty relied a lot on its more relaxing immersive vibe (despite being the same BPM as the more energetic songs preceding it). Lifelight completely ignores the relaxation. Sure, there’s a build-up from nothing near the end of the song that maintains a temporarily chill atmosphere, but for the most part, Lifelight goes in the opposite direction. It’s energizing drive might not be as intense as Come On’s heavy hitting energy, but instead maintains a better balance, allowing that beauty to seep through.


While Alive and Lifelight may differ on how energizing they are, the two songs do share a not so secret weapon: the piano. While Alive used it as the focal instrument in its fantastic build-up from nothing, Lifelight integrates it in the song from the very beginning as the first melodic instrument and its presence persists throughout the entire song. It’s more noticeably present in the calmer verse sections, but that’s only because there’s not nearly as many instruments overshadowing it. By the time we get to the magnificent chorus of the song, the piano does have to drop down a few octaves in order to be heard over everything else and in doing so It changes from beauty to powerful. And seeing as Lifelight isn’t going to beat Alive in the beauty category, going for powerful is the correct choice


But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s take a step back. If I go straight to talking about the powerful verses, I’ll miss out on those great guitars in the second verse. Oh, they’re only there for a second but they do a great job of accompanying the pianos and helping the song reach its quick build-up into the fantastic chorus that serves as the heart of the song.


And oh, what a chorus. Each chorus begins with a quick drumbeat accelerating the song from the lesser sections, highlighting the dynamic difference between the verses and the chorus. The piano, as mentioned before, transforms into a powerful chord that resonates throughout the chorus. But I think it’s the strings that really take this chorus to the next level. There are soaring notes that play along with the chord progression, but more importantly are the lower notes. The lower notes constantly chanting underneath it all. The lower notes that take that piano’s resonance and accentuating it with the rolling notes. Those lower notes.


I would be a fool not to mention the build-up from nothing this song has. They get better and better as the album progresses (though Alive might be an anomaly as it’s better than the buildup from this and the last song). Still, this build-up does see a return of the softer piano, up a few octaves from the chords that have been struck for the past few minutes in order to be heard over the rest of the majesty. But in this build-up, they can keep up with the strings and the slower drumbeat without sacrificing their higher octave beauty. The buildup is a relatively short one, so it doesn’t take long to get right back into that energetic chorus that’s the heart and soul of this song. It’s still one of the best parts of the song though.


Lyrics of Andy Hunter songs are relatively inconsequential to my enjoyment these days. However, I feel that this one has a bit more of an emotional personal appeal to it that many of the other songs don’t quite obtain. Several of the songs in Andy Hunter’s discography are rather simple in lyrical concept. It’s your everyday worship song, but electronic. It’s a love song to God that’s electronic. It has a phrase or two with Christian themes in it… and it’s electronic. I feel like compared to all of these songs, Lifelight is a bit more fleshed out. Lifelight is about the light that shines out in the darkness of this world. Lifelight is about breaking through the death that preys on us all and embracing the life that we have in our hands. Lifelight is about the constant discovery of God’s glory as the world continues to surprise us with new forms of beauty. Lifelight is life itself, a light in the darkness.


Andy Hunter & Kate Westwall – To Life, To Love (8.5): The sirens sound as we transition from Lifelight to this last song. We’re at the finale. Kate Westwall returns from Wonderful to participate in the most technological song of the bunch. Definitely a step up from her first feature on the album despite how wonderful it was. It’s a step down from the majesty that is Lifelight but it still makes for a much better finale to the album than Intercessional did.


The sirens give way to a distant but powerful drumbeat. Then the growing ambience that creates an immersive atmosphere as the song begins to rise. Then the ticking of a clock as we countdown to the point where the beat truly drops in. Kate’s voice echoing a simple ditty of meaningless (but slightly catchy) syllables. And then it happens. The beat comes in.


This beat in this song is quite bouncy with a melodic tone hitting on the offbeat whenever possible. Combine that with perhaps a drumbeat that’s a bit harsher than the rest of the songs on the album and the contrast between the two really stands out. This offbeat tone serves as the basis for the rest of the instruments in this song. There are plenty of technological synths that stand out from the rest of the album, straying the line between melodic and simply rhythmic. It gives the song a unique feeling that works well with the bouncy bassline. Oh, and speaking of basslines, there’s another bass to this song, specifically a guitar strumming beneath the rest. That guitar serves as the main source of energy for the rest of the song.


The most memorable melody is the one that appears on either end of the build-up from nothing (which I always will inevitably talk about). It always makes me want to swing my arms around in circles for some reason. I can be a bit strange with my relationship between music and dancing sometimes. There’s plenty of other instruments and melodies that help flesh out the song a bit more, but these are the ones I felt needed the most highlighting.


And, as per usual, we have the build-up from nothing that I love Andy Hunter so much for. This is my second favorite on the album just after Alive. Here at the midpoint of the song, all the energy fades away except for one arp and a variety of strings that dance up and down in pitch for the first few seconds. They disappear in favor for the best moment of Kate’s vocals in the entire album. No lyrics, just beauty rising up and down as everything around her builds back up towards the energy that was lost. There’s a subtle melody in there that I like if I’m paying close enough attention. Otherwise it gets lost in the slightly syncopated drumbeat that makes itself present for this particular section of the song. Everything here works together nearly perfectly. Which is why this build-up is the second best on the album. Only thing holding it back from the top spot is that Alive’s build-up actually is perfect.


The lyrics in this one are a bit odd. First verse seems to make repeated references to the Garden of Eden, the original paradise that God had created before the fall of mankind. It might also represent the afterlife in heaven which is likely a paradise similar to the Garden. Could possibly just be the highest moments in life on Earth as one receives those glimpses of heavenlike beauties here in the present. It’s a bit cryptic and tricky to figure out but it is certainly referencing some sort of paradise and the wonderful life that arises from it. The second verse focuses deeper on the overwhelming desire to partake in this paradise, though it really almost sounds like a drug addiction… that’s the second time this album. Huh.


Well in an effort to make sure not to end this review on a druggy note. Let’s take a look at the chorus. Real simple stuff there. Not too much to talk about. There’s a lot of talk of unity either among an entire congregation of people or between two particular people (man and God I presume?). In the past, I’ve often opted for the former interpretation, but the second option is suddenly becoming equally likely in my view. Not really sure how to look at the song now. Well except for the fact that it’s a solid song. It’s quite a solid song. There. I said it. End Review.


Conclusion: Comparatively speaking, Life started out rough, but then it got better. You could interpret that as a statement on the actual life we’re living right now, but it works for this album too. Of course, I said comparatively as the “rough” in this case was Open My Eyes, which in reality is a good song. It’s just that everything that followed was clearly superior. Could the album have been improved if Open My Eyes was dropped? Maybe. But it doesn’t need much improving anyways as this proves to be the nostalgic highlight of Andy Hunter’s entire career for me. Songs like Alive and Lifelight definitely hold a special place in Andy Hunter’s discography for me as they’re my first and favorite songs from his. Maybe it’s just my nostalgic bias, but this was his peak in my opinion. Oh, he has plenty more good music to review later, but it doesn’t get quite as good as this one.


Final Score: (8.5/10) – R.E.T.R.O. (2010 album review)

Album links


Soundcloud: n/a





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Last time on Oh boy Black went through a lot of challenges in the last chapter of L̶͉̜͕̻̲̼̿̅́̕͜͝͝e̶̙̅̔̌͋̏̌t̷̛͚͌͛̐̐̏̈́͌̄̈̊̆͋͝’̴̢̺̩̹̦̠́̈́̄͜ș̵̢̪̬̥̝̭̗̲̈̕ͅͅͅ ̶̘̹̓̿̄̅̂̐̽̋̑͘͝r̷̮͐̏̀̇͠e̸̢̩̥̐̊̂̐̊͐͆̓͑̓̇̕̚͠v̵̭̰͎̙̼̑͋͛̑́į̴͇͉͚͎̻̫̣̪̳͒̇̽͌̂́̆̓̋͑͋̇ę̷̨̛͔̻̟̮͉͒̈́w̶̤̜̟̙͉͎̘̯͆̆͊̂͛̀͌ͅ ̵̪͌̿̀̏́͂w̶̢̨̛̗̦̭̺̘͇̳͂́̆̍̀h̸̨̧̛̞̪̲̮̣̪͐̀̒̈́͜͝a̶̫̭̹̖̼͔̱̫̫̭̙̺͚͐̄͐͂͗̔̽̋͗̒̇̚͜͠͠t̸̯̜̿̒͒̓͛̈́ͅ ̴̡͖̬͓̪͚͓͌̃̀̓̊͠h̷͖͍͍̺̩̳̐̄̀̓͊͊̅́̇͐̔̾͛͠a̶͔̭͔̱̙͆p̵̪͙̖͎̘̔͒̀͘͜ͅp̵͉̫̠̞͓̻̦͈͈͆ͅe̶̡̧̛͍̺͇̣̥͐̓͑͆ņ̸̦͚̗̣̻̣̝̑͆́̇̒͐́̊͊̕͠e̵̗̖͠d̴̤͇̣̖̈̈͗̽̅̿̂͛̚̚ ̸̤̗̘͂̐̌̈́͒́̎̄͒r̵̢̞̙̜͈̪̝̱̥̹̪̠̼̞̒͘e̷̡̧̧͔̘̳͙̤͕͠͝ã̴͔̳͈̮̱͓͇̍̈́́͋̈́́̄̈͘l̶̪͓̓̉͆̄̎̈́͒͐̿̕ ̷͕͕̊͊̏̈̓͑̿̏̈́̊̅̏q̵̧̪͉̞͇̯͓͇̲͓͍̙̈́̾̀͌͌̍̑̔͝͠ͅͅu̸̧͚͍̝͓̫͕̹͑͗̈́̿̽̎̊̾̾̄́̕͠ȉ̵̢̝̟̦̔͛̌͋̚͜c̷̗̋̏̏́̇̽̍͋ḳ̷̡̱͓͖̱̳̒͂ ̶̢̨̲̦͚̠̥̎̂̿̿̈̔̈̏̈́̏̀̾͝ḇ̴̪͍̲͍̞̤̄́̑̄̐̂̎̾̋͘̕͝͝͠ë̶̙̪͓͈̟͉͉̫̳̖̯̔̌̏́͝ͅf̵̡̖̝͕̝̿̈́̍̉̂̏͆͘͝ǫ̷̛͍̣̰̘̩̟̯͚̭͉͉̮̎̽͑͒̈́̀́́̌̚͜͝ŕ̴̻͖̬̹̀́́͂̔͆͝ȩ̷̡͖͕̯͙͓̪̝͇̭̾̑̓̈́…̸̗͓͓̩̓̀̕…………………………………………








Introduction: Actually, let’s hold on for a second. This may be a album but there’s no need to recap the story this week. For the story is generally irrelevant to R.E.T.R.O. Think of it as an intermission of sorts. None of the songs in this album hold any bearing on the story we’ve been traversing through over the past 2 months or so. Here, Stefan takes a step back and just makes a handful of songs inspired by games off of the Commodore 64. A retro flashback to his nostalgic days I presume. This is unfortunately his most popular album. I say unfortunately because I rather prefer the storytelling songs rather than the slightly more attempted nostalgic style that much of this album takes on. It isn’t a bad album but… You know what? I can explain my feelings on the songs of this album while I review them. Maybe I should start on that. – The Last Ninja III (6): Not to be confused with The Last Ninja (which appears later on in this album) or The Last Ninja II (which is completely irrelevant to his album but I’m sure it exists). A large number of these songs are somewhat remixes of games from the Commodore 64. This one is the first one. I trust it to be based off of the game, The Last Ninja III, but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t played any Commodore 64 games as I hasn’t grown up in that era (earliest gaming system for me is the original Xbox so I’m kind of in the late middlish I think).


However, despite my lack of knowledge, I decided to take a second and look up the theme music of this game I only just heard of just now (I’m a listener of music, not a player of games) and it sounds like this is a pretty faithful recreation involving a slightly more updated feel as the technological sound of has taken over many of the melodies and drumbeats of this song. There are a few portions that maintain a very similar sound to the original game soundtrack (the section at 1:11 being the most prominent example)


However, I don’t really feel that this is the strongest fusion of electronic and retro chiptune. A lot of the elements work well. The main melody has taken on a more modern feel and it fits quite well with the drumbeat and bassline. And there’s some subtle arps added in the second half that really flesh out the full feeling (or at least as close as we can get). The sections that are a bit closer in tone to the original Commodore 64 game however… it’s a bit of a clash to be brutally honest. This song just really doesn’t strike me as anything worthwhile. It has some good ideas here and there, but it could have been executed a lot better. – Lightforce (6.75): Lightforce feels a bit more polished and seems to fit the general mood much better. The introduction to this song in particular feels a lot like it could be part of the story of Black and his explorations through the Dreamweb. It’s not about that. None of the album is about that (well, it’s debatable for some of the later songs but we’ll get there when we get there. No, this song is a throwback to the soundtrack from an old space shooter known as Light Force (hence the title. Titling songs after the game it’s based on is a theme for a good half of the songs on this album). It’s a pretty faithful modernized recreation from what I can hear after looking up this game I hadn’t heard of prior to reviewing this album.


Everything in this song meshes a lot better than we saw in The Last Ninja III. I still don’t think of retro chiptune melodies when I think of, but at least this song doesn’t really distract with its 8-bit elements. Perhaps it helps that much of the song, particularly the arp and the bassline, have a rather simple tone to them as well. Because of this, everything feels much on the same level, unlike the weird mesh of cinematic and 8 bit we had back in The Last Ninja III.


My only complaint is that this song is a bit excessive in length. I do like the occasional lengthy song, but there has to be enough variety for the song to earn it. And to be honest, I feel like this song could get along just fine at half the length. Ah well. Still a decent track. – The Last V8 (7): The Last V8 tells of the chaos arising within a family that all wants a can of V8 veggie-fruit juice. But there is only one left. And so, they engage in a never-ending battle over the last V8.


Actually, it’s another song that references a game of the same name. I mean, what else did you expect? That’s all this album has been so far. It’s not going to change soon. As usual, we have a decent modernized version of a decades old song from a classic video game that I’m sure makes Mr Poiss extremely nostalgic.


This one seems to be one of the closest to the game that inspired it based on what I could scrounge up. The stronger bassline and the smoother melodies really fit together quite well. I especially love the combination introduced right at the beginning. There’s less instruments and vocals distracting from the simplicity of these two instruments as they bounce off each other. Nothing wrong with the instruments and vocals or anything. I just enjoy the simpler vibes a bit more. The whole point of this album might be focusing on being R.E.T.R.O., but honestly, the 8 bit portions are often my least favorite part.


Oh yeah. This song has vocals too. It almost sounds like it belongs in the storyline. As I’ve established already, it doesn’t. Pretty sure the lyrics here are referencing various elements of the game this song is based on. So, there’s not as much to get into with these lyrics. It’s a bit more fun when I get to delve deep into Black’s mind and the world that he lives in. Could’ve nearly fooled me though. There ae a lot of mentions of a guy in white… but that couldn’t be our White… Could it? – Supremacy (7.25): You know the drill. Supremacy shares the theme with a video game of the same name. The game was retitled Overlord when it came over to the US (where I live, though I wasn’t living when the game was released), but that fact is completely irrelevant. is Austrian anyway, so they needn’t care for the renaming.


The mood of this song is completely transformed in this case. Oh, the melody stays the same. It wouldn’t be much of a remix if it didn’t contain a melody from the original title theme of the game, but when I went ahead and looked up the original song form the game, the mood was completely different. The game had a bouncy upbeat feel backing the melody that Stefan chose to base this song around. However, when we get to the remake in question (I am reviewing, not games from two and a half decades ago), the song focuses a lot more on ambience.


I definitely prefer this transformed calmer mood. Maybe I’m biased because is my favorite artist and it would be quite nearly impossible for me not to prefer his version over anyone else’s, but I feel there’s a bit more variety with what creates by creating a calmer atmosphere and building off of it. Over time, the song grows slightly more intense, pulling away from the ambient vibe that the song started with and growing in intensity with increased arpwork. Eventually, the song reaches its climax in which the main melody from Supremacy. Only difference is that instead of committing to the bouncy mood of the original. opts to aim for a more cinematic feeling with a slower drumbeat and some slower basswork (almost sounds a bit like a guitar, but not nearly as much as Machine Run).


Overall, this is one of the better adaptations of a game soundtrack to be seen on this album. The overall progression and variety really makes it stand out above some of the less interesting or overly lengthy tracks I’ve reviewed so far. – Shades (6.25): As far as I can tell, Shades does not come from a Commodore 64 video game. That’s different. Well there are a few other songs like this as well, the soundtrack recreations only take up half the album and we’ve looked at the majority of them already. How about a short break for something a bit more original? Shades, while not taking inspiration from any particular game, still maintains a similar retro feeling within its core. Many of the synths used to imitate the 8-bit melodies are still present here. Or at least there’s something similar in play.


After spending so much time comparing the covers to their original counterparts, it’s kind of weird to look at this track as its own original creation. I guess I’m just stuck in comparison mode. Ah well, I can still compare this to the last few songs on the album. It’s really par for the course. There’s plenty of decent elements to the song but few of them really stand out.


The drumbeat is kind of in the middle as far as tempo goes. Wouldn’t say it’s plodding, but it definitely isn’t driving either. There’s a bit of nice variety to it with a few extra syncopated kicks added into the mix at some points in the song.


As for melodies, they aren’t really distracting like in The Last Ninja III, mostly because they have longer notes with smoother transitioning. However, it just doesn’t feel quite as dynamic as it could be. There’s just not really much to work with. Some simple melodies play in the background but they don’t really add much to the song from what I can hear.


And then there’s basslines… I guess. I really don’t have much to say about these basslines. Inoffensive but completely forgettable.


I want to enjoy this song, but it really has nothing to offer that can’t be given by the other songs on the album. – 8 Bits (6.5): Here it is. The most popular song. It shouldn’t be a song from this album, but it is. 8 bits may be enough for some people, but not me. Ok that was too harsh. I just wanted to do a pun on the song lyrics.


8 Bits and its counterpart, I Love 64, seem to tell their own narrative in a way. Not saying it’s connected to the narrative from the other albums. Not nearly as good as that. No, these songs seem to follow a virtual being made of code, though the tone doesn’t quite fit with the type of code I’d consider to be related to the Dreamweb. Interestingly, the world of 8 Bits is the reverse of the main universe. Instead of escaping into the virtual universe known as the Dreamweb. An emulated entity desires to transcend its world perhaps to enter into our own reality. That would be a bit crazy though, right?


Both stories do have an element of trying to escape the world we see in front of us and redefining reality to maybe find a way to live comfortably with ourselves. And I think both themes are worth looking into. But this song feels somewhat cheapened. With everything that the rest of the discography shows, 8 Bits is very shallow in comparison. It’s alright but it just feels shallow.


The brighter happy music does contribute to this. Simple drumbeat and bassline with no harsh elements. And the melodies are made completely of short little chiptune bleeps and bloops. It’s definitely a happy mood. Maybe that’s my problem. I do seem more attracted to slightly edgier music. This song just doesn’t do it for me in the same way. It’s a good song despite my negativity, but it pales in comparison to everything else. – Mindkiller (7.25): All this time we’ve been putting the mind in a box, but now we’re killing it? Well this has taken a violent turn. Mindkiller is surprisingly not from a video game called Mindkiller. It’s actually supposedly from a game called Parsec. It’s only called Mindkiller because those are the sole words spoken throughout the song. Or are those words spoken because the song is called Mindkiller. Why isn’t this song called Parsec?


Actually, come to think of it, does the music here come from Parsec? Because I looked up the game on Youtube and I can’t find any moment anywhere in the surprisingly varied soundtrack (in comparison to the other games I’ve looked at) that sounds like what I’m hearing in this song. I’ll be honest, I got that little tidbit of info from Wikipedia which is possibly not the most reliable source. It is possible I missed the similarities though so if anyone else magically hears it, let me know.


Anyways, enough of the pondering of the song’s source and title. That information holds no weight on my final rating. It’s the music itself that matters. And this music is definitely different from what I’ve heard so far on this album. In fact, this is one of the three songs that I might consider to be suspiciously similar to what I’d expect from the more narrative albums. Perhaps the melodies are a bit more simplistic in the beginning, but the rest of the music here sets up a great dark atmosphere. The drumbeats are constantly changing, focusing on an eclectic range of kicks, snares and claps to keep that unsettling mood going. Not to mention the creepy breathing down the neck that builds as the song reaches the midway point.


The second half of the song sounds much like the I know and love. That technological arp really is a staple that’s been missing for a lot of the songs in this album. The drumbeat does return to more regular four on four beat here, but it still maintains a bit of its edge to keep that unsettling vibe in place. And of course, there’s the titular lyric: Mindkiller. I theorize that this as well as two other songs later in this album are deleted scenes from previous albums, this one being the least developed of the bunch. The Mindkiller could be a deleted element from the universe that was cut in favor of some of the other mind-bending elements sch as the Dreamweb and the Stalkers. I have no idea what a Mindkiller would be, but it could very well fit in with what Stefan has already created for us. But we shall never know what it would be, for if it was ever part of the story, it has since been removed. – The Last Ninja (7.25): Not to be confused with The Last Ninja III (which appeared earlier on in this album) or The Last Ninja II (which is completely irrelevant to his album but I’m sure it exists). A large number of these songs have been remixes of games from the Commodore 64. This one is the last one. I trust it to be based off of the game, The Last Ninja, but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t played any Commodore 64 games as I hasn’t grown up in that era (earliest gaming system for me is the original Xbox so I’m kind of in the late middlish I think).


But enough with recycling content, now that I have a soundtrack to compare it to (unlike with the enigmatic Mindkiller), I can faithfully say that this is a pretty good recreation. When I’d scoured through the soundtrack on Youtube (much easier to sort through than Parsec), I found a song that confused me because it sounded exactly like the remix at the beginning. More accurately, the version sounds exactly like the beginning of the original piece, but that simply isn’t the order I heard it so that’s not how I experienced the comparison.


But a good remix isn’t just about making the song sound similar to the original. It’s about improvement. And’s modernization is certainly an improvement. As far as composition goes, this sounds like a direct copy of the original soundtrack with some drums added into the mix. However, it’s only the beginning of the track that truly sounds identical to the original. As the song travels forward in time as far as duration is concerned, it also travels forward in time in the modernity of its sound design. It may start with the simple 8 bit melodies, but it isn’t long before this songs starts using more guitars and modern synths to display the melodies originally composed three decades ago. And it definitely works quite well, as it sounds in some places that the original Commodore 64 wasn’t quite up to par with its instrumentation for some of these melodies (or maybe I have a bias towards It still incorporates some chiptune elements in there to maintain the retro integrity of the song, but there’s some great guitar added into the mix as well as a fantastic breakbeat portion in the middle.


Despite its intense modernization. This song serves as the most faithful recreation of the other recreations this album has to offer. – I Love 64 (6.5): And now to continue in the two-song universe of the emulated soul trapped in an 8 bit world. Fittingly, I love 64 refers to 64 bits. A bit of an upgrade from the 8 bits we had in the last song. I love 64 follows our eight-bit emulated entity as it discovers a second being made of 64 bits. 8 falls in love with 64 and romance begins to blossom between the two as 8’s eyes are opened to an entire new world beyond the one it had been stranded in back in the last song. Filled with desire, 8 wants to upgrade to become part of 64’s world but worries about whether their love will last through the transformation.


Honestly, it’s a cute love song with a unique spin on it. It serves as a nice logical sequel to 8 Bits as it allows the protagonist a window to embrace its dream to transcend into a greater reality. And in doing so the story of a search for meaning also becomes a search for love. There really isn’t much in particular to say about this one. It’s pretty similar to 8 Bits in tone and serves as a bouncy happy distraction before we get to the last two edgier songs that conclude this album. – We Cannot Go Back to the Past (7.5): This could have very well been a song on Crossroads that just ended up getting cut and left aside to be released later on this album. One of the very themes on Crossroads was moving on from the past. A song of not being able to go back to the past would have fit the album perfectly. However, it really just states an idea and it hits the nail pretty hard on the head. There’s really not much added into the narrative by including this song so that might explain the reason it was cut (if I’m correct at considering this song to be a deleted scene). The remaining songs gave this message out clearly enough on their own.


Seeing as the more narrative driven side of is what I like most, this song is a bit closer up my alley. The C64 covers are fine and the short 8-bit storyline is suitable, but it’s Black’s journey that got me into This song gives a small taste of that feeling, even if it really is just stating the title of the song on repeat… kind of like Mindkiller did. Unfortunately, all that’s to be said about moving on from the past was said in my Crossroads review so you should probably just go ahead and read that one. Best album I’ve reviewed so far.


As for the music, it’s got a really solid bassline introduced at the very beginning of the song that serves as a backbone to the rest of the track. It’s dark. It’s a bit mysterious. And it honestly has a lot more texture than any of the other basslines I’ve heard from Like if the song on Mushrooms ever came into existence (it’s not going to but that would be cool), then I’d likely expect a bassline like this one to be a main element. It doesn’t sacrifice its iconic technological nature, but it still creates something new that I haven’t heard in any of the other songs as far as I can remember.


Really, the bassline was the only musical element I wanted to highlight. Maybe if I weren’t so late on getting this review out (not going to stress too much about that. I cannot go back to the past), I’d try and dig deeper into the other parts of this song, but nothing is really as prominent as that bassline, which is fine because the bassline carries the song very well. – Whatever Mattered (8.75): Saving the best for last. This song could have definitely replaced The Place from Crossroads. I’m not entirely certain which one was produced first as I’m the one calling them deleted scenes and for all I know, I’m just making assumptions, but if he was choosing between this and The Place, I personally think he made the wrong choice. Really, it’s mostly a musical preference. The Place definitely had some flaws that held it back from me enjoying it. It was just a bad combination of musical elements that didn’t quite fit, making it the worst song on the album.


This, however, is the best song on this particular album. While The Place had conflicting moods between the piano and low end technological synths, this song focuses on a very smooth collection of instruments the feel somewhere in between. It does focus more on the relaxing side of just as The Place did, but all of the melodies feel a lot smoother. Sure, they don’t stand out as much as the piano in The Place, but they do serve the song well in creating a deeply relaxing and introspective mood. And seeing as Whatever Mattered is all about introspection, then that works quite well for the song.


I will admit that when it comes to lyrics, The Place is a little bit better. It goes a lot more in depth to where Black is in his life (though it surprisingly doesn’t give much details on where Black is physically considering that the song is called The Place). This song is a bit more simplistic focusing only on the concept of moving forward into the future despite the past. And yet, stripped of much of the narrative detail, it does maintain the soul and message that was there in The Place. It’s more simplistic, but I feel that only makes the message stronger. Living in the past does not make the present a comfortable place to build one’s future.


Plus, it sounds good so there’s that.


Conclusion: This is’s worst album. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good album, but I can’t help but prefer the more unique narrative that expands exponentially as the discography continues. Worldbuilding is just a passion of mine.


This album is simply different. It instead serves as a tribute to the Commodore 64 and some of its games as well as testing some new waters without contributing to the storyline. Maybe I’d like it more if I’d played these games as part of my childhood, but I wasn’t even alive at the time they were released, so you can’t really blame me too much for overlooking them (again, gaming is a minor pastime for me, not a passion).


While I may suggest skipping it if you’re listening to the discography chronologically for the narrative, I still think it’s worth coming back to once you finish listening to whatever the most recent installment is in story.


Final Score: (7/10)

Andy Hunter – Exodus (2002 Album)

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: n/a




Introduction: What’s this a new artist? You may have thought I’d be reviewing the same three artists for all eternity seeing as that has been the pattern for the first couple months of this blog, but now that it’s March, perhaps I can venture a bit further into some other favorite artists of mine (this March line was more profound when the review was scheduled to be released on March 1 but oh well. Still the first review of March).


Andy Hunter… This is extremely nostalgic for me. Maybe a bit too nostalgic… You see, Andy Hunter was the very first. The very first artist that I heard that made me want to delve into electronic music. He was my number one artist for quite some time. However, seeing as I’m only now getting to him, I clearly consider him to have backslid a bit ( is currently winning, recently stole that spot from Infected Mushroom). Will I have some bias in this review? Well, music is incredibly subjective so I have some bias by default, but I will admit that these songs may have some emotional connection as I’ve been listening to this guy for nearly a decade now while most of my other favorite artists only reached my ears in the past five years or so. Regardless of my likely skewed ratings, I’m happy to share this piece of my childhood (early teens still counts as childhood yes?) with you.


However, before I get started, I do want to note one last thing about Andy Hunter. He is the rare occurrence of a Christian DJ/electronic artist. And because of this, a lot of his songs have subtle religious messages in them. There may be some who disagree, but having a Christian background, I can somewhat enjoy the messages I hear within these songs (though I am more prone to edgier music these days. I’ve grown to be somewhat of an agnostic to be honest). Really just wanted to give that context here and now before we got into any “lyrical analysis” (not much to speak of in this album when it comes to lyrics).


Andy Hunter – Go (7.5): Andy Hunter always does a fantastic job of introducing his albums. From Exodus to Glow (The Presence Project is a whole different animal so I’m ignoring that for now), each album/EP starts out with an energetic upbeat track to get the blood pumping. From there, the rest of the album ranges from mostly high energy songs, to the occasional more relaxing track.


Go is one of these opener songs (which was obvious from the get-go seeing as it’s the first song on the album but bear with me). The first couple minutes are admittedly calmer, but in a way, that only makes the rest of the song all the more energizing. Instead of throwing the listener directly into the energetic breakbeat tempo that makes up the majority of this track, the song begins with a simple heartbeat. And as that heartbeat plays onward, synchronizing your own heartbeat with the tempo, a stringed melody slowly builds along with some vocal synths as the song slowly builds up to its full potential


And then after a couple of record scratches and an echoing cry of the song’s title, that energetic breakbeat kicks in. Andy reintegrates those strings from the build-up into this more energetic portion and introduces some groovy basslines and computerized vocals (along with some other melodies and textures, but I find them to be less important compared to that bassline and the vocals so I’m only mentioning them in parentheses).


The bassline pretty much speaks for itself. It gets its own spotlight at the tail end of the build-up before the drums take over and they’re demoted to the background. I will admit that the bass isn’t flawless in this track. The main groove definitely works, but there are some points in the song where extra elements are added on that I don’t appreciate nearly as much. The part that stands out the most is that higher pitched note that sounds like it’s part of the bassline. It’s first introduced at 2:20 and it kind of feels out of place. The rest of the song fits quite well together, not perfectly, but not noticeably bothersome like the high-pitched bass note I just mentioned. The continuation of the strings as the song progresses is really what holds this all together (also the main groovy bass that isn’t an octave or two too high).


As for the vocals, they’re pretty simplistic. I don’t have much to discuss when it comes to any of the three lines, this song has to offer. There “Go,” the singular word that serves as a namedrop of the song’s title. There’s the line “Release Yourself,” which serves as the better half of the moment occurring at the 2:20 mark. Really not much to go off of there. And then there’s the chant “Born to Worship. Birth the Freedom,” which is the most cryptic of the three lines. Those first two looked pretty meaningless on their own, but this one deserves at least a bit of an extra look.


“Born to Worship, Birth the Freedom” can be translated to the sentiment of dedicating one’s life to worshipping God, finding freedom through doing so. Rather simple message and I can see some truth behind it as I know many who find peace through religion. I don’t believe that religion is fully perfect, and that it can be abused to hurt others (which I frown upon greatly), but if it brings peace, then I can’t help but respect that.


Overall, Go is a pretty good opener. It’s by no means perfect, definitely has some flaws, but it’s a good beginning to a good album.


Andy Hunter & Lyle Day – Wonders of You (8.25): So now that Go has established the breakbeat tempo that the first third of this album relies on, Wonders of You doesn’t bother itself with two-minute of build-up to reestablish itself. It does take about thirty seconds for that beat to fully establish itself, but compared to the two minutes of peace that began in Go, these thirty seconds have a lot more energy. Not saying that makes this intro better or worse. Just noting the difference.


One other thing to note as we move on from Go to Wonders of You is the transition. Exodus is an album that prides itself on flowing from one song to the next seamlessly. If it weren’t for the fact, that I knew this album so well (Been listening to it for a decade), I might not even notice as we transition from one song to the next. This transition is a bit less interesting than some of the later ones, as it relies on nothing but shared ambience. Still, I think it’s a noteworthy element to experiencing this album.


Enough about the first thirty seconds of the song! What about the other 7 minutes? I’d say that this tune is an improvement over the majority of Go (Go did have a beautiful start). The bassline is much smoother as it climbs up and down throughout the song. And unlike Go, which had some less pleasant accompaniments to that bassline. Every instrument in this song blends quite well with each other. And there are so many little tidbits in there, that it’s hard to point out the best ones. This might not be as highly rated as Walking or Redefined from previous reviews, but I think that this song still deserves at least a short bullet point list of the best elements you can find in here.

  • Lyle Day jumping in there right at the 1-minute mark with an insanely energetic rap. More about the lyrics for this one later. He’s got some good wordplay between the words cross and fade in here.
  • Not ten seconds later, there’s a subtle little synth that sound like echoing water droplets.
  • And a minute after that at 2:10, we’ve got that quick little build-up that works as a transition to introduce the first short appearance of strings (which offer nice variety by the way). The same thing happens around the 3:40 mark and it’s just as good the second time around.
  • This simple five-note melody introduced at about 2:40 is the main melody of the song (odd how it appeared so late), Other than Lyle, this is the most memorable part of the song to me.
  • The way Lyle says “Fire” and “Desire” at 4:45 just stands out to me for some reason. That is all.
  • The outro is mostly there to transition into Radiate, but I do enjoy how it sounds as the key changes (plus that last synth introduced at the end has a great distorted vocal vibe to it, which now reminds me of Infected Mushroom oddly enough).


The true star of the show is definitely Lyle and his two verses. Bouncing right off of Go’s declaration that we are “born to worship,” Wonders of You is a rapid-fire unconventional worship song. This isn’t a hymn, that’s for sure. Lyle only spends about 40 seconds of the song rapping, but man does he jam pack those 40 seconds with praise. I’m not the biggest fan of rap but I used to abhor it. And yet, I’ve always enjoyed Lyle’s verses. Maybe I was just enjoying the album in its entirety, but I believe they still hold up even though the album has taken a couple steps down in my general taste.


Some last-minute notes on the lyrics, I do quite enjoy that wordplay between cross and fade in the first verse as well as the energy behind fire and desire in the second verse (but I already mentioned that). I found it interesting that some of the lyrics in that second verse, there’s some references to the events within the book of Exodus, the book likely behind the name of this album. God appeared as both a burning bush and a pillar of fire to Moses and the Israelites. And there was a lot of wandering in the desert for about 40 years. Small things, but I find them interesting.


Andy Hunter – Radiate (8.75): Now this is a much better seamless transition. Not relying on ambience this time. Instead, Radiate starts with the same exact beat that Wonders of You ended with and incorporates elements of the previous song within its introduction. That main five-note melody? You can still hear it for about thirty seconds before it fades out completely. How about vocals? Well, maybe I’m just going crazy, but I think I hear someone repeatedly saying “wonder” in that intro. Doesn’t sound exactly like the vocals in Wonders of You, but that could be because Wonders of You had some more distortion on that chorus.


But that’s just the transition, the first minute of the song. As the longest song on the album, we still have seven and a half to go. What does it have for us? Well there’s that trance drumbeat for starters. I think I’ve established well enough in my Infected Mushroom reviews that Trance has a great tempo, and while Andy Hunter is in no way psychedelic, there is a nice sliding feel between the snares on the second and fourth beats. Any BPM between 135 and 145 is an excellent drive. This song just barely reaches into the low end of that.


Anyways, enough rambling on and on about the little things (I sure do love going in depth this week). Perhaps I should talk about some highlights within this song. Radiate is one of those Journeys through Sound (initially and frequently mentioned in Infected Mushroom reviews). And because of that there is so many different moments I could look at within this song. I am going to have to leave a few out as I have noticed I am getting a bit lengthy here in this review. I need to tone it down a notch.


Let’s have a little intermission with the lyrics before I continue on with my favorite elements of this song. Just switching things up a little. I shan’t be long here. Radiate appears to be focused on letting God into one’s self, his perfection permeating through the soul, shining brightly so that it shows throughout one’s life. And that’s all there is to say about that. The wording of it is a bit violent though. Radiation, Eradication. Burning. Very destructive words. Ah well on to the rest of the music


In addition to this song being a Journey through Sound, I also want to highlight another element I enjoy in several songs, Build-ups from Nothing. There are two points in the song where the beat completely drops out of the picture and all that remains is ambience and a simple melody. A calm in the middle of the storm if you will. But the silence doesn’t last forever. It can’t. But it wouldn’t do to suddenly interrupt this soothing calmness either. So instead, the song builds upon that calm beginning. Slowly but surely, the song returns to its past power. The two build-ups included with this song are rather similar to each other in form. Both start with that ambience. Both have a similar melody. Both introduce the sliding snares part way through (before introducing the kicks). The only real difference is that the first one has a piano at the beginning, meaning the electronic melody has to battle with the piano for the spotlight (piano obviously wins). However, the piano is absent from the second build-up allowing the other melody to have a chance in the spotlight (after getting creamed by that piano). Well, both build-ups are amazing (no pun intended considering the next song) and definitely stand as my favorite parts of the song.


Before I move onto the next song, I want to quickly highlight a few more little parts of the song that I feel deserve noting. First off, there’s that bass that introduces itself midway through the song after the second Build-up from Nothing. It definitely overtakes the song at that point, giving it a slightly harsher feel as it throbs along with the beat. Another thing that I enjoy in this song is the strings. They don’t reach the same levels as the beginning of Go, but they are quite good. They serve mostly as transitions into those Build-ups from Nothing (A lot of what I love about this song seems to center around those) and at the end of the song as we prepare for Amazing.


Andy Hunter & Christine Glass – Amazing (7.75): Amazing kind of breaks the seamless transition that this album has. There’s a moment of silence at the end of Radiate which means that it doesn’t matter what Amazing starts with. It has nothing to work with. Ah well. The introduction still does share some similarities with the conclusion of Radiate. Both feature a heavy amount of strings. Both are at a very similar BPM (though Amazing takes a little while to get started so that BPM isn’t immediately apparent). I guess that counts somewhat as a transition, but it’s the least interesting transition on the album if so.


Amazing has vocals though. Not slightly filtered vocals from Andy Hunter himself. No, these vocals come from Christine Glass. This song and the four after it make up what I’m going to call the female vocal half of the album. Each of them features a different female vocalist, though some are less integral to the song than others. For this song, Christine Glass is definitely integral. Her soft vocals are smooth as glass (pun definitely intended) and are definitely the most memorable part of the song. The strings come as a close second, but they blend in so well with Glass’s vocals that I almost think of them as an extension of that beauty. Whenever the strings are present, I have a tendency to ignore all the other instruments as they simply can’t compare. There’s a good bassline, and a couple little melodic touches (though the main melody is kind of eh). Overall, the music of this song works well enough. Maybe, a balance could be given so that other instruments mattered more, but there’s nothing in there that I outright dislike so that’s a plus (the next song won’t be as fortunate).


Lyrically, this song isn’t as religiously focused as some of the other tracks on the album. It do believe the intention was to be a song focusing on experiencing the majesty of God’s power, allowing us to experience things beyond our comprehension. But without the context of Andy Hunter’s tendency to write song’s religiously, it sounds more like a love song. I don’t mind either way, but as of this point in my life, I’m not really drawn to either option either.


Andy Hunter & Michelle Prentice – Show (4.5): As Amazing ends with a whisper, it leads into Show, one of the calmer songs on the album. It is also the worst song on the album. Sorry for the harsh words, but even the best albums have to have a song that takes that spot. Ah well, let’s go backwards and talk about the lyrics first, because they’re relatively simple and I really would rather conclude my thoughts on this song by discussing a certain instrument…


Show me glory. That’s it. That’s pretty much all the lyrics. There is a bridge in the middle of the song which has Michelle saying a couple of lines about Opening one’s eyes and heart to God as well. But I don’t have much to say about those either. There that’s all of that. Wouldn’t that be a shame if I ended this particular summary with this lame paragraph about lyrics. On to the music!


I’d say a good half of the instruments in this song are beautiful and relaxing. The slow tempo works well for the relaxing mood, not to mention some of the moments that focus a little more on ambience. As for vocals, most lyrics are said with a whisper. The female vocals in the background are a nice touch, both the clean unedited version and the more synthetic choir that is added in from time to time. The bridge is a sight bit strange, but I do feel like it makes a good centerpiece to the song. If only the rest of the song was like this…


The bassline doesn’t fit. It has a nice long rolling feel to it, and I would consider it to be one of the better parts of the song, but it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the relaxing stuff. But that doesn’t compare to the screechy synth that is completely out of place. It first appears at 2:17 and I find it to be quite annoying. But the real nail in the coffin is just a tiny little beep. I’ve looked across countless versions of the song hoping the beep was just a glitch but no. It’s there and it ruins an otherwise decent song. Am I perhaps complaining a bit too much? Maybe. But this little beep breaks the song in a jarring manner. I find it to be a bother every time it interrupts the otherwise smooth experience and gives me a slight bit of a headache. If it were absent, this song might get a higher score, but this song is a disgrace to the rest of the album anyway.


Andy Hunter & Cathy Burton – Translucent (7.25): While Show could have been the most relaxing song on the album, it ended up flopping spectacularly as Andy Hunter’s worst. And so instead we have Translucent as the most relaxing song on the album. And it is a major improvement. Everything here is pure relaxation, no weird trippy divisive instruments and absolutely no annoying beeping. This song is truly a beauty to listen to. If Show’s main goal was to beg for glory to be shown, then Translucent does just that by taking the ambience from show and building it into a glorious introduction.


Much of the song is simply ambience fading in and out throughout the verses. It’s not exceptionally interesting, but Cathy’s vocals (which are the best vocals on the album) do well to prevent the lack of variety from becoming a bore (there’s not even any drums here). The chorus is a bit better with adding some stuff in there. There are some very subtle drums as well as a simple melody added in there and it thankfully works well with the relaxing vibe the rest of the song has, which is more than I can say for Show (which I apparently love to hate seeing how often I mention it). The only instrument that I could possibly consider unfitting is the more electronic synth used in the final chorus and the outro. But it’s used subtly and doesn’t interrupt the glorious feeling so much as it adds some variety and some transitioning into the next song. This whole track is a much better example of Andy Hunter’s chiller side (the side he’s devoted his time to in recent years with his Presence Project).


The lyrical content in this one is quite intimate. The whole concept is opening one’s self to God showing your entire soul and self to him as he washed away the sin that mucks up our life. The chorus is where this concept is most explored while the verses focus a little more on God’s incredible majesty and glory. And then there’s the bridge which mentions Angelic sounds filling the air. Speaking of Angelic sounds…


Andy Hunter & Alisa Girard – Angelic (8.5): That final synth I mentioned in the last song brings us into Angelic, our first nonlyrical song of this album. Plenty of gorgeous vocals from Alisa but not a single word is voiced. This song is a transition back into the more upbeat music that I prefer from Andy Hunter, at least for this album, but it is also the most beautiful song this album has to offer.


Angelic has two main focuses, the piano and the vocals. Sure, the other instruments in there have some presence too. You can’t have a good drive without a good drumbeat and the strings and ambience definitely do some solid background work to add to the beauty that the main stars of the show create, but those main stars are definitely the vocals and the piano. And how can I describe their beauty and why this is one of the best tracks on the album? I’ve pondered how to explain it for a good while now, but there isn’t a way to explain it other than tell you how gorgeous it is. It’s impossible to really go into detail because this track is a simple beauty.


Part of me feels like somewhat of a failure of a reviewer for being unable to review this lovely song, but really, it’s something you have to experience for yourself. Just know that it’s beautiful.


Andy Hunter & Tasia Tjornhom – Sandstorm Calling (8.5): Not to be confused with Darude – Sandstorm.


This song right here is an absolute classic. I understand that a lot of these songs are great classics to me even though Andy Hunter is a slight bit more obscure than some other electronic artists from the time. He was my childhood though and this was once my favorite song from him. My opinions have shifted slightly but this still remains to be one of the most nostalgic songs for me. Other than Tasia’s occasional vocal this song is fully instrumental, and to be perfectly honest, since Tasia only has a small note here and there (no lyrics), I could probably count her as an instrument herself if I felt like it, making this the most instrumental song on the album.


But this song doesn’t need vocals to be one of the greatest songs on the album. Right from the start the song transitions smoothly from angelic with a heart pounding drumbeat shared between the ending and beginning of the two songs respectively. And when I say heart pounding, I mean it literally. This drumbeat sounds like a combination of a heartbeat and some heavy breathing and it has the same effect as the drumbeat from Go at the beginning of the album, except this time that heart is pounding a little bit faster. Also, it comes back into play a couple more times in the song where Go’s heartbeat only really mattered for the intro.


The most prominent and memorable part of this song would have to be the horns that play the main melody. It’s not so prominent that it feels overused, but it is definitely the clear motif of the song if it has one. Besides the most obvious iterations of the melody shown at 1:27, 2:36 and 5:37, there are several subtler points where the melody is used. From fairly obvious parts such as the fractions of the melody played in the song’s introduction to slightly more hidden points such as the quieter melody underlying the song whenever we aren’t in full melody mode (or build-up from nothing mode but I’ll get to that). Everything else the song has to offer, the basslines, the strings and Tasia’s vocals, contribute to the mystical feeling this song presents to me. Nothing feels out of place. Everything works together.


My favorite part of the song, of course, has to be the build-up from nothing. After the second chorus of the motif melody we reach the midpoint of the song and as I’ve explained in previous songs with a Build-up from Nothing, everything drops out. The drumbeat, the melody, the bassline. All of it. Nothing remains. Well, almost nothing. Andy Hunter leaves a bit of ambience in there to work with as he refreshes the rest of instruments over time. There’s a few notes that sound like water droplets in the beginning which I love as they kind of remind me of a cave. In a way, it kind of helps me visualize the rest of the song with this short portion taking shelter from a cave in the middle of a tortuous sandstorm before the safehaven collapses. I have a vivid imagination when it comes to some of these songs, pretty sure I used to visualize a music video for this entire album when I was younger, this is the only part I remember though.


I got distracted. Let’s talk about these strings for a second. The way they’re introduced really is the heart of this build-up and the remainder of the song following it. They don’t gradually introduce themselves with a rising crescendo (unless you consider the ambience to be an introduction to the strings, though I’m pretty sure that ambience is made up of the sweeping notes of a bass (the actual stringed instrument, not just a general term for low notes). These higher strings begin at full volume along with some cinematic drumbeats to accompany them. As the stings build- growing more intense, eventually playing a quicker melody, other elements of the song are introduced and reintroduced. A new bassline joins in first followed by a return to that literally heat pounding drumbeat from the beginning. And all the while there is a slight nod to the main melody (albeit this iteration is played a bit lower so it sounds quite different in tone).


And after that build-up concludes itself, the song returns to its usual tempo and energy. This time highlighting those strings as the star of the show, once again letting them develop in a similar manner, starting off slowly and then shifting the notes around bit more rapidly as the song progresses. And with one last iteration of that motif melody chorus, we have a fantastic closure to a fantastic song.


And so, concludes the five female vocal songs of the album. Only two more to go.


Andy Hunter – Strange Dream (8.25): These last few songs on the album transition quite well between each other. Sandstorm Calling ends with a rising scream that drops right back into the breakbeat style we had at the beginning of the album. Strange Dream is a return to where we started and, living up to its name, it’s definitely one of the stranger songs on the album. Unlike the last couple of songs, this song returns to having lyrics, but if there’s a message behind them I can’t seem to figure it out at all. There’s a dream. It’s strange and funny. Only way I can think of this working biblically is one of the many stories of dream interpretations. Only problem is… none of these appear in Exodus so I really can’t tell you how that connects. Maybe Andy over here just had a strange and funny dream one time and felt inspired to build a song around the concept.


What’s the dream about? Well there’s so few lyrics, I’m afraid I can’t tell you. It’s strange and funny, I can tell you that much, but the rest of the vocals don’t give much information to work with (if any information at all). As soon as the song begins, you’ve got two lines: “You wasted basics for that, dude” and “Down, sit down, See you down.” What do they mean? Who knows! My guess is that our man Andy here has a subconscious self-criticism of how he continues to waste the basic elements of his life on… something… Also, he forces himself to sit down to try and ponder this self-criticism he has. Am I looking too deep into this and almost certainly misinterpreting any meaning Andy has for us (if anything)? Yeah. Pretty sure I am. Am I self-projecting? I don’t know possibly. Self-criticism seems to be a problem of mine, but I didn’t actually put much thought into this theory. I sort of just vomited out the first existential possibility that came to my head when looking at these either cryptic or random lyrics. Maybe my subconscious is the one we need to look into…


Ok, well regardless, of how vaguely I try to analyze these lyrics, the penultimate song of Exodus does have some pretty good music on it. After the introduction is done about a minute in, the song returns to four on four, which I find to be a bit disappointing (Syncopation is such a pleasure of mine). Still, the conventional drumbeat doesn’t interfere with the rest of the song. There’s some great bass design throughout, be it the harsh funky notes in the intro, the nearly arpeggiated pattern that plays for most of the song or the cleaner lower synth that joins in around the three-minute mark (though to be fair this could count as a melody).


This song divides itself into two different vibes. There’s the upbeat vibe that takes up the majority of the song and a couple of calmer breaks at each third-way mark in the song. I’ve already talked extensively about the former when it comes to the basslines as that’s the most prominent focus there. There is a synth that I haven’t mentioned that has a nice swing to it and plays the main melodies of the upbeat four on four areas of the song. Plus, there’s a couple of points in the song where an extra instrument is layered on top of the arpeggiated bass to give it a much-welcomed accent.


The latter of these two vibes is the calm between the storms (not sandstorms, that was the last song). The song takes two short breaks to strip away the kicks and basslines from the song, creating a more relaxing environment focusing more extensively on melody and strings.  There’s a chilling main melody in here that gives me extra nostalgic vibes for some reason (even more nostalgic than the usual Andy Hunter and I honestly don’t even remember it somehow so there’s definitely something fishy going on in my subconscious music memory). Regardless, I enjoy these two portions of the song the best. I wouldn’t say they’re build-ups from nothing, but at the end of each one “Strange and funny dream,” tends to get me a smile. I especially get a kick out of the “straaaaaaaange andfunnydream” at the end of the first calmer portion. As strange (and funny) as they are, these vocals are definitely the selling point on this song.


Andy Hunter – Intercessional (7.25): Final transition of the album smoothly leads us into Intercessional with a bassline not all that different from the main one in Strange Dream. It’s a bit higher in pitch, but the rhythm is quite similar (though I think I prefer Strange Dream’s). However, this bassline is only important half of the time in this song as Andy continuously switches back and forth between the already mentioned bassline and a second rhythmic bassline introduced about a minute in, which I find to be a bit smoother. I prefer the latter of these to be honest. That smoother vibe is definitely better in my opinion.


As for the rest of the song, I’m not all that impressed. It’s still a good song but compared to all of the other stuff we’ve seen in this album. The singular melody that this song seems to have isn’t especially interesting except for the ending of it’s first iteration where we spend a small few seconds with that syncopated drumbeat. Some of the best few seconds of the song, though the rest of the melody just doesn’t carry the song very well.


After those few seconds of breakbeat, the song does reach a calm as it prepares for a small build-up from nothing. There’s a decent choir introduced in there (which is used throughout the remainder if the song which is a welcome bit of variety), and the breakbeat drums do continue as the song builds up. Some good subtle touches here and there make the build-up work quite well It’s nowhere near as remarkable as the build-ups in Go, Radiate and Sandstorm Calling, but beating those songs is a tall order anyway.


As for the lyrics, there’s not really much deep to go into. The song is called intercessional. An intercessional is a prayer. The song is about prayer. The song is about an intercessional. It’s all pretty self-explanatory.


Overall, this is a pretty weak closer for the album. The song is good and all, but it doesn’t reach the same heights as many of the other songs on the album.


Conclusion: that review was a lot longer than I’d expected it to be. A good half of the songs had full on essays of things to talk about which might be a bit excessive (even my reviews are shorter than this and they have more songs plus a whole narrative to deal with). Regardless, I definitely enjoyed immersing myself into the intricacies of Andy Hunter’s early works. The album does have some flaws (take a look at Show, his worst song), but overall, it’s been a great nostalgic experience working on this review. As much as I had to say in the body of this review, this conclusion is pretty short. I guess I already summed it all up.


Final Score: (7.75/10)

Daily Hat Track Roundup: February 2019

It was here that Tuesday Newsday ended, but we don’t talk about that. This is just the February Daily Hat Track roundup post. Nothing more.


Daily Hat Track: February 1 (King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Cyboogie): Cyboogie walks a surprisingly thin line between a fun groovy vibe an oddly ominous vibe slinking along I’m the background.


Daily Hat Track: February 2 (Kick Bong – This Charming Violin (TPOT remix): End of a long unfortunately unproductive day. So today I’ll just mention the song having a food vibe and some beautiful violins and female vocals. It truly is quite a lovely track.


Daily Hat Track: February 3 (Ashbury Heights – Spiders): Remember the all too edgy Ashbury Heights album from a couple weeks ago? Here’s a song that’s a step in the right direction of edge. Actually the track that introduced me to the duo (with revolving door of female vocalists).


Daily Hat Track: February 4 (Myndflame – Club Thrall): I didn’t get far into my Discovery Weekly due to download troubles but this song in particular had a good drive and variety to it. That’s about all I have to say about it at the moment though.


Daily Hat Track: February 5 (Electric Universe, Hilmar & Chico – Rockers and Rollers): The moment I see an Electric Universe song I think psytrance. The moment I see the song title referencing rock n roll I think kick-ass guitar sections. This song delivers on both counts and I love it.


Daily Hat Track; February 6 (Bliss & Alex Berserker – Warriors Guitar Mix): A couple days ago I shared a psytrance song with some rocking guitars. Well, today I’m sharing THE psytrance song with rocking guitars. This eleven minute experience is well with your time.


Daily Hat Track: February 7 (Infected Mushroom i-wish (Acoustic Live Remix)): Each time, I listen to this acoustic version of I Wish, I like it more and more. It used to be my least favorite from IM21 pt 1, but now it’s second favorite right behind Bliss’ remix of Bust a Move (which is unbeatable).


Daily Hat Track: February 8 ( – Amnesia): Today I’m just going to throw back the song that introduced me to my current favorite artist. Really pulled me into the computerized vocals and the existential themes. Probably one of my best musical discoveries of all time.


Daily Hat Track: February 9 (Infected Mushroom – Dancing with Kadafi): I’ve shared a lot of long songs as of late, but I consider this one to be the epitome of journeys through sound. It’s an absolute classic.


Daily Hat Track: February 10 (The Anix – TECHUNTER): Only just finished up Friday’s Release Radar and this nearly cinematic technological wonder was one of the last ones in the playlist. It’s also the best one in the playlist.


Daily Hat Track February 11 (Eisfabrik – Walking Towards the Sun): Actually got all the way through my Discovery Weekly in one day (which is rare). And this was bothering the grooviest and most inspiring of the bunch. It’s not often that you find such good futurepop with an uplifting vibe.


Daily Hat Track: February 12 ( – Redefined): I have no words right now or too many words. Either way, I’d forgotten how great this song is (definitely one of my all time favorites). Music and lyrics are dense with power and meaning and you should listen to it right now


Daily Hat Track: February 13 (Infected Mushroom – Frog Machine): Does this track make anyone else envision a giant monstrous frog throwing it’s little normal frog coworkers into a fiery furnace before usurping it’s boss that happens to be a corpse of bones lying in the corner? Just me? Ok.


Daily Hat Track : February 14 (Infected Mushroom – In Front of Me): Not much to say about this one. It’s just resonating a bit too much with me right now. Every line is filled with relatable existential anguish.


Daily Hat Track: February 15 (Worakls – Cloches): Worakls and his Hungry Music fellows are always a treat to listen to. Therefore this is one of my favorites of this week’s Release Radar.


Daily Hat Track: February 16 (Infected Mushroom – Return to the Suace): Here’s another song that makes me visualize a music video except this one makes less sense because it’s a sea voyage adventure involving a sea serpent and a time distortion device. My imagination is vividly random.


Daily Hat Track: February 17 (Infected Mushroom – Demons of Pain): I usually tend to listen to the remix from the Return to the Sauce album, but my love doe the existential original still holds today. I may have been listening to too much Infected Mushroom lately though.


Daily Hat Track: February 18 (Kick Bong (Progress in Happiness Remix)): Here’s a funky groove of happiness from Kick Bong for yesterday’s Daily Hat Track. Sleep schedule adjustment is making me forgetful.


Daily Hat Track: February 19 (Scatman John – U-turn): Didn’t really listen to Scatman when he was alive, but I have been enjoying his music for quite a few years nonetheless. This one about healing one’s soul with a new beginning is the most applicable to my life at the moment.


Daily Hat Track: February 20 (OVERWERK – Reign): I’ll admit I’m really only into this one for the bassline. It has a good groove overall, but the bassline is what makes it.


Daily Hat Track: February 21 (Infected Mushroom – Saeed): I already knew this was my favorite Infected Mushroom song, but after relistening to it today. It’s even better than I remember. Every moment in this track, be it lyrical or musical, is incredibly powerful.


Daily Hat Track: February 22 (Electric Universe – Dragonfly): Psytrance songs named after winged insects are good ok? What else is there to say?


Daily Hat Track: February 23 (Andy Hunter – Go): Andy Hunter was my first electronic artist. Go was his first song. If you’re guessing I have some nostalgia attached to this song, you couldn’t be more right.


Daily Hat Track: February 24 (Liquid Soul – Hypnotic Energy (Pitch Bend Remix): As I was scouring through this week’s Release Radar in search or tracks worthy of mentioning for Newsday Tuesday this fresh psytrance track proved to be the most worthy.


Daily Hat Track: February 25 (The Luna Sequence – Veil Walled Garden): Today’s Discover Weekly reminded me how awesome The Luna Sequence is at blending electronic and rock elements. All of her stuff definitely has an energetic vibe to it.


Daily Hat Track: February 26 (Andy Hunter – Sandstorm Calling): An Andy Hunter classic. One of the two nonlyrical songs on the Exodus album. Definitely feel some nostalgia listening to this.


Daily Hat Track: February 27 (Ayria – Feed Her to the Wolves): Isn’t it great when you discover an oddly catchy song during lunch and have to spend the rest your workday trying not to sing of how you had a woman eaten alive wolves and then displayed her body to intimidate your enemies?


Daily Hat Track: February 28 (Carpenter Brut – Paradise Warfare): Carpenter Brut is great but Carpenter Brut with a saxophone? Mmmmmmm


Remember to follow Twitter for a new Hat Trac every day and to take a look at the Daily Hat Track Playlist linked below.


One last thing. I wanted to apologize for missing the review last Friday. As I’d mentioned on twitter I ended up having to take the week off due to health issues but I’ll be putting extra effort into keeping on track for these reviews from now on (Getting rid of Tuesday Newsday should help