Synthétiseur is unfortunately an incredibly short release, but one that manages to do so much in its 25 minute run time. Although it is primarily a synthpop album, Heavy Strife goes beyond this label by incorporating elements of shoegaze along with an often moody undertone. Vocals have a particularly noticeable shoegaze influence. They are generally hazy and drawn into the background if they are even present at all – some songs are completely instrumental. The vocals appear to act as more of an addition to the music, rather than an aspect that takes centre stage, as with most artists. This is no bad thing though, as it lets you truly experience the excellent synth work that Heavy Strife has to offer. As you might guess, it is the synth that really shines through on Synthétiseur. Whilst it may not have any of the intricate complexity of more renowned synthpop outfits, as an independent artist Heavy Strife works brilliantly with what he’s got.
Synths on Synthétiseur range from shining and cerebral melodies, to deeper and thicker effects that seem to almost completely fill your head (if you are taking advantage of listening through headphones, that is). Each track brings something new to the table, such as the dark, spaced out sound of Pursuit, or the more upbeat, whistling Damask Beat. In addition to synths, you can expect to hear some well placed guitar here and there. Whilst the guitar is sometimes surprisingly placed, it is always for the better and really adds a more substantial edge to some of the tracks. Even from the opening track, the guitar works perfectly with the brooding atmosphere that is present. Particularly great, however, is the almost tropical melody that can be heard on the track Silver Din, alongside high organ sounds, fuzzy synth and sparkling effects. This sort of variability is not uncommon either, as most tracks have a range of interspersing sounds and effects, creating a surprising amount to keep you interested in such a short release. All in all, a tightly constructed and enjoyable release.
Standout tracks: Damask Beat, Silver Din, Ringtail