This duo hails from Italy and originally got their start in 2001 making a style of electro-goth rock music. It was Voyager (aka Lorenzo Bettelli) who first started making this music with this style and was joined by Andylab to complete the duo we know today. At this point the band took on a different direction to the solid dance-friendly synthpop music they have been releasing over the past several years. 2002 found the band signed to the popular synthpop label A Different Drum for the release of their debut single No Atmosphere and album De-Synchronized. This album and single entered the scene and was immediately received by DJs and press with positive reviews. The band continued to create new music and release two new singles before they released their sophomore album Kosmonauta. Each of these were well received and licensed to other labels in other parts of the world for more world-wide exposure.
This brings us to the next chapter in the band's history with the start of 2007 and the release of their third album Alien Nation. They continued to build on the solid futuristic synth styles from their previous works on this appropriately titled album. With each passing year they gained new experience, a larger fanbase and great, new music. After another long break, the band finally return in 2013 with their album Death of a Sun. Continuing to build on their solid synthpop sound, this album takes a turn to the analog synths of the past for a new classic work. Their history shows how a band can make a place for themselves just by releasing great music and finding a good way to get their work out to the world. The futuristic synthpop is fun and will have synth fans around the world dancing and singing along in Italian and English, smooth vocals or robotic, it doesn't matter, it's all fun, very contagious and moving.
Death of a Sun - Review
It's been a long-time coming, but here we finally have something new from this talented duo. By now we've come to rely on this band releasing an excellent mix of dance-friendly synthpop music. With this new album they take a retro approach to the music utilizing analog synths for a "new" sound for the band while still maintaining that solid, futuristic space-synth music we've grown to enjoy over the years. The album comes packed with ten powerful tracks, most dance-friendly, just about any selection could be spun at a club and fill the dance floor with the exception of a few slower pieces. A nice addition is the inclusion of the electronic booklet / insert included with the digital download, something sorely missed today with downloads being the medium of choice.
Right from the start, I have to say I love the overall style and sound from this album. The old-school analog synths are very reminiscent of the more fast-paced classic dance tracks from Pet Shop Boys and similar artists, though with their own futuristic spin to the music. The inclusion of occasional guest musicians and vocalists add a little more breadth and depth to the music as well. The album plays well as a whole moving from one powerful piece to the next, broken up a bit by varying tempos and moods including a nice instrumental interlude piece and closing with a nice downtempo track "Nuvole".
As well as being able to enjoy the album as a whole, there are some great selections that stand out as favorites. These jump out right from the start with "We Fade Away" kicking off the album with this powerful synthpop anthem. The heavy analog sound really comes out strong on "Runner in the Night" with a futuristic twist alongside the moving beat. However, I think "Dreaming" easily jumps out as the favorite from this album, kicking off w/ synths you would hear from Yazoo or Erasure and then just moving, never slowing down, just begging you to get up and dance and daring you to stop. The female backing vocals from Lissa Dix of Paradoxx is a definite bonus on this piece and really puts it over the top as a great track. "Fire In Your Eyes" picks up a little bit later in the album and is a great addition, another fast-paced piece, this one borrowing a bit from the trance influence for a nice, diverse piece. "Ninja Warrior" is another definite favorite which brings imagery of a soundtrack to one of many classic arcade games I played as a teenager.
With that the album wraps up with a trio of great pieces with the aforementioned "Nuvole" bringing it all to a close in the form of a short, down-tempo piece. Overall this is a great album, packed with great music that fans will really love, especially those that have a taste for a bit of the classic analog synth sound.
Alien Nation - Review
I was starting to wonder when this Italian duo would come out with some new work after their impressive run a few years ago with the multiple singles and Kosmonauta album. And now we're presented with another futuristic synthpop masterpiece in the form of this album. Voyager and Andylab put together 10 solid tracks ranging along techno and trance instrumentals to powerful and melodic, emotionally charged synthpop tracks. It's all packed together with booklet presenting lyrics and other info along with some artwork to enhance the entire futuristic space travel experience.
What this duo manages to pull together on this album and all of their previous works is really quite interesting and exciting in many ways. Not unlike other related bands of similar styles, their mix of electronic elements pushes the border of different related genres, but still manages to be well within reach of original fans of dance-friendly synthpop. In fact, the album kicks off with one of the best, most powerful melodic synthpop tracks I've heard in quite some time in the form of "Supernova". This piece is driving with an excellent beat, layers of swooshing synths, but not in a trance-induced techno style, but rather very melodic, bringing out the emotional traces in guest vocalist Marian Gold from Alphaville. This leads us directly into a style that we haven't heard from this band much before on "Alien Nation" with electronic guitar similar to later Depeche Mode. We also hear a trace of more guitar in the background on "Destiny Sunrise", which sports another shift in style just on this album with a slower, melodic, ballad-like style.
Fans of the robotic vocals have plenty to enjoy on this disc as the futuristic elements really emerge on several pieces, including the already mentioned "Destiny Sunrise". What's interesting about this piece is that it's almost a ballad as previously mentioned, yet we have robotic vocals mixed in and somehow it works and sounds good. But when you get into the fun, pop-sounding electro-clash piece "Musika Atomika", then you really feel like you're sitting on a spaceship somewhere. Fans of Goldfrapp, Ladytron and Client will really enjoy this piece. At this point we're thrust into solid techno/trance with more robotic vocals on "Orion Shall Rise". This piece along with "Hypercube" will really please the techno junkies out there that thrive off of the high energy instrumental electronic music. And for those that enjoy a little harder industrial edge will enjoy the music they put together for "Helium".
This brings us back to the melodic synthpop tracks that are my favorites from this group. Besides the aforementioned "Supernova" and "Alien Nation", there are two more pieces that really stand out to fill this niche on this disc in the form of "Solarchaser" and "Speed of Light". Both feature Andylab's solid vocals and plenty of melodic synths and a driving beat. These pieces are welcome additions and solid anchors for this disc as it seems there may be a heavier emphasis on the techno and trance flavored music on this disc. At the end of the album we come full circle with the "radio version" of "Supernova" which backs off a bit on the intensity, though lacks nothing in the emotional power. Personally I prefer the original which is what listeners will have been hearing on the Gothic Paradise club radio show.
That wraps up the album and hopefully all readers can visualize exactly what to expect from this disc and judge for themselves. In my opinion it's a great work due to the powerful, melodic synthpop pieces, but recognize that fans of the heavily techno and trance influenced music will enjoy it as much for those aspects. It will definitely remain a solid element of my collection for many years to come.
Kosmonauta - Review
This is an awesome CD for fans of fast-paced driving synthpop. This band just keeps releasing album and single after single with tons of remixes and just plenty of danceable music. The album contains eleven great tracks, some are recognizable from previous singles and others are completely new contributing to this album. The first thousand copies of this album also comes with the bonus Re-Synchronized disc packed with eight new remixes and demo versions of previous releases.
As with previous releases the overall theme of this album is a sci-fi space feature. You could easily listen to this while watching the old series (or new big-screen movie) Hitchhiker's Guid to the Galaxy as the earth is destroyed and you're taken on a cosmic adventure through this fast-paced music. After the short intro "The Beginning of the End" the music builds right into the driving beats of "Enforcer" which has been a favorite of mine for a while. The music builds and moves along in this mostly quick-paced manner through "Empire of the Sands", the catchy single "Space Overdrive" and my favorite from the album, the popular single "Cosmic Gate". The inclusion of the occasional robotic vocals mixed with the various layered synths add a futuristic element that is fun and keeps the album moving with added variety are all mega bonuses.
Once you've made it through the galactic journey through that disc, pop in the second disc and you have some excellent remixes of some of the best tracks from previous releases including "No Atmosphere", "She is the Dark", "Flowers Fade" and others. Remixers of these tracks include similar artists and labelmates Raindancer and Nevarakka as well as others.
This is an excellent two-disc album that is hard to find much improvement. If you're looking for dark or romantic synthpop, this isn't really the album for you as the music is upbeat, futuristic and very driving, fun to dance to or just listen whenever and wherever you are.
Cosmic Gate - Review
This is a group that Gothic Paradise readers and listeners should be very familiar with. They have had their previous album and single featured here and they continue to get plenty of radio play. This is another group that likes to mesh a little bit of that techno influence into their fast-paced tracks. However, synthpop fans will recognize that they really stay within a range of synthpop with fun vocals in Italian and English and a great variety of music. This single picks up where they left off with their last album singing about various space themes. The title track appears with the stellar original version and two fun remixes, including one by the previously mentioned Nevarakka which adds some fast pounding beats and really picks up the intensity in this piece. Also appearing is two remixes of "Enforcer" and another fun track "Atomic".
"Cosmic Gate" appearing in it's various forms is really a great track and it's easy to see why it was chosen as a single. Mixing Italian and English vocals there is a bit of variety just in this track, but the overall enjoyment is the melodic synthpop elements. It's moving, dance-friendly and a high energy piece. "Enforcer" builds on many of the same elements including robotic vocals and sounds you would probably expect to hear in some futuristic dance club in space somewhere. "Atomic" breaks it down just a bit with various bleeps and futuristic electronic sounds but is a minimal track without a lot of the synth layers on the previous tracks.
So there you have it, on one single, six tracks, great variety, fun dance music and all coming together in one intelligent and fun package.
Label: A Different Drum