CD, Satellite Symphonics, 2004
After hearing “Avalanche” one might be tempted to apply the old adage “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” to I, Synthesist’s debut album. Tempted, yes, and not without certain reason but, in doing that, one would be also committing a serious injustice.
Musically, “Avalanche” is strongly reminiscent of luminaries such as Gary Numan and Fad Gadget, at times going beyond the line of reminiscence to the point of recreating their music style. In addition to the strong and obvious influences of Gary Numan and Fad Gadget, Kraftwerk’s minimalism is a definite component of I, Synthesist’s sound and Bowie’s presence can also be felt. In a way it’s almost as if one could distil parts of the essences of the aforementioned musicians and combine them into something else, putting that something to work creating music. The final product could well be “Avalanche”. In any case, this album shows great skill of composition as it is no easy feat to create such a musical destilate and make it sound coherent.
Hearing “Avalanche”, it feels that the album is divided into two parts, one seemingly more beat-driven and geared towards dance-floor and a second part, more ballad oriented. Songs like “Red Clouds”, “The Lost Parade”, “Captain, My Captain”, “Another World” are sure to cause an impression staying in your head for some time. Oddly enough, “Images” can’t stop reminding me of The Kinks. Lirically, “Avalanche” is quite good as I, Synthesist manages to avoid many of the pitfalls usually associated with synth and retropop lyrics.
In my opinion, one of I, Synthesist’s strongest assets are the vocals. In the middle of bleepy, mechanical and minimalist, beat-driven melodies, Chris Ianuzzi’s coarse, almost sand-papery, voice proves to be extremely adequate as a complimenting contrast to the underlying music. The end result of this interesting and functional combination that makes I, Synthesist’s music immediately recognizable.
In these times in which retro and revivalism are currently norm, one has to appreciate the few people that know what they are doing when creating retro music. Chris Ianuzzi is one of those few. He knows what he wants from his music and has the talent and skill to do it. Nevertheless, revivalism can be a one-trick pony, no matter how strong the identity of the performer and how well composed the music. Time will tell how I, Synthesist will develop…
— Miguel de Sousa