CD, A Different Drum, 2007
For those of you that aren’t familiar the Virtual Server project, the concept is quite simple. Take one talented DJ/producer/musician/song writer in the form of DJ RAM, then add to that the talents of some of the best vocalists in the Synthpop, Electropop and Electro scenes and voilá, there you have it! Any Synthpop adoring fan would have to admit that this is an interesting idea to say the least, but does it work?
As “Setup” was recorded over a period of three years I was a little bit concerned that some of the songs may have sounded a bit worn because as we all know, technology for electronic musicians is an ever growing expanse. This just wasn’t the case with “Setup” and I was pleased to hear that the album contained some very fresh-sounding songs. Which actually leads me on to my biggest problem with this album: the songs. As you can probably imagine with all these different styles of vocals included on the album, the songs themselves are quite varied. On the whole the vocals are consistently good all the way through, but I feel the lack of catchy and memorable music in the background really makes this album suffer. The more you listen to the album, the more you start to recognize how much of a problem this becomes and by the time that you’ve got half way through it, you just want to turn it off. Virtual Server to me has always been about upbeat Synthpop suited perfectly for the dance floor, so if that is the aim of this record, I can’t see why the songs weren’t designed to stick in your mind. There are of course highlights to every album and the track that contradicts most of what I’ve just said is the excellent “Desperate Man” featuring vocals by Pal-Magnus Rybom of Synthpop legends Echo Image. If fans of Echo Image have been wanting some new material by them as I have done, then this is the best offer I think you’re going to get. A good, solid pop song that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
To round things up I think that this album should have been much more promising considering the amount of talent on offer (i.e. Tom Shear from Assemblage 23, P.O. Svensson of Colony 5, Reagan Jones of Iris etc.). Being that DJ RAM is definitely one of the strongest artists on today’s Synthpop scene, I was expecting a lot more from him. Maybe this is probably not the strongest work he has ever written but I still have faith that he’ll be back with a much stronger offering next time around.
— Paul Marcham