New Ways, the accompanying album to the electronic music documentary I Dream Of Wires fulfils many roles: soundtrack album; homage; and showcase of talent chief amongst them.
Solvent, the Toronto born producer, solo artist and interviewer for I Dream Of Wires, has created New Ways solely with modular synthesisers – one hell of a task considering their inherent difficulties.
The fascination Solvent has with synthesised electronic music is one I can share wholeheartedly. Depeche Mode, New Order, Gary Numan (source of the name of the documentary), Nine Inch Nails and more populate my collection, and the influence of these luminaries is found in each and every track here – with some influences you probably wont expect at all.
Commissioned by the producer of I Dream Of Wires to compose the soundtrack, Solvent took to the task – you as the listener will be rewarded with a listen that takes cues from the past, but looks towards the future.
Of all the places to start, I’ll begin here: an argument in the electronic music scene is one which is analogous (see what I did there?) with the debate music purists and enthusiasts have – MP3/CD or vinyl. For purveyors of electronic music, it’s digital vs. analog. It’s something that I can’t answer, nor do I have any intention of getting involved. I know what I like, regardless of its origin.
What is present throughout the album is a warmth that you can only get with a modular/analog synthesiser. You can hear the hiss of the machines if listen carefully through the layers of beeps, whirs and chimes. In effect, it’s computer music with a human soul.
As soon as Themogene (I Dream Of Wires Theme) begins you can almost feel the vibrations in your head, a gentle fuzz that pervades your brain and inner being, and gives you a feeling of hope for the future. The bass line, which floats up and down in a rhythmic and hypnotic fashion, is joined by a riff that if played on a guitar would be hailed as an instant classic.
From throwaway synth-pop to club music via the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Sender), Solvent has traversed the modular synthesiser road. Listen carefully and throughout the album you’ll hear not just music, but sound effects that would not be out of place on the BBC’s adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series – yes, his diligence goes that far!
Quantimations would not be out of place in a rave, and Burn The Tables is wickedly original, mixing industrial, chip tunes and glitch music. It’s a cornucopia that won’t be beaten this year – that track AND the album as a whole.
It is an album to behold, a tribute to the past that points towards what imagination can bring. Music should astound and inspire, and Solvent has achieved just that.