A Journal Of The Dark Arts
We return to the realm of late ’70s/early ’80s sci-fi/slasher/thrillers, with this blurred-out transmission from the enigmatic Yves Malone.
Yves Malone is the evil phantom twin of Portland’s Adderall Canyonly, part of the smell but dedicated scene of producers who are making authentic anachronistic documents, recreating the sounds for lost ’80s straight-to-video chillers that never were.
On Aced, Malone has departed from the clam shell a bit, not trying to sound as convincingly archaic, instead seeming inspired by that era, and using it as a template to carve out his handmade newage synth odysseys. There’s a little less guignol splatter on Aced, and more of the feeling of a euphoric sci-fi optimism.
This just screams late ’70s sci-fi/action/thriller, something with Charlton Heston or Dolph Lundgren, something where the protagonist has to penetrate a dome at the bottom of the ocean, to retrieve a cure for his ailing ladylove, or retrieve the notes for the mad scientist’s elixir of youth. You can expect explosion, that is to be sure, but this is one of those thinkpiece existential melodramas, that delivers atmosphere and social commentary, in between the fireballs.
This is one of the main strengths that this genre of imaginary soundtracks has going for it, which is shared by most instrumental music, in my opinion. It frees you to draw up yr own plots, yr own characters, or to place yrself inside the action. It’s a much more engaging and participatory style than the passive consumerism of watching someone else’s vision, and seems to inherently stoke creativity inside the listener.
This begin with the logotone of “Aced Part I”, in true hauntological fashion. Consider this the spectral Viacom mark, for a company from an alternate past. “Posi-Rollout” brings the atmosphere and the mystery straightaway, with falling glittering synth arpeggios, with subdued and skeletal drums (lovingly sourced from analog, as almost everything else on Aced) gives some tension, expectation, and momentum. “Posi-Rollout” climaxes with some eerie theremin warbles, imperceptibly segueing into the throbbing square wave basslines of “Snackerface Byplant”, which is why we all love this style in the first place. There’s a bit of Ghost Box rinky dink library goblin synth melodies, as well, that keep this from becoming too enamored of one particular era, enhancing the uncanny atemporal sensation. The swarming echoes and shooting star synths are a nice touch, at the end, sealing the deal that you are in store for a truly engaging speculative listen.
“Bushing The WahtCleves” is the first hint that this may be sourced in the present, as the highly erratic disembodied beats sound a bit too abstract for late ’70s. With rippling underwater organs and prismatic oscillators over a dissected casio beat, this sounds like Autechre or Actress jamming with Terry Riley, and should be a treasure for the ’70s prog synth wizards out there.
“Along Cometh Gareth” is particular favorite track on here, and goes to show what is possible within this style of music. First of all, it’s a classic theme, simple but memorable. It’s got that open-ended, mysterious quality, peculiar to this realm. I wonder if it’s the key that he’s playing in, or just the sound quality itself, but it seems to have this unresolved and hollow feeling, forever seeking, not getting anywhere. It feels vaguely middle-eastern, in my mind, but I may just be hearing things or projecting. This is a true epic cyberpunk romance, here, complete with chirping motherboards. And then the breakdown, @ 4:08, that separates Malone from the imitators. This is no hack bedroom producer, riffing on presets and stitching together lego sounds. Here is a visionary, a true musician with something to stay, conjuring strange spectral stories, out of thin air, and leaving the listener to interpret them as they see fit.
If you’re looking for a soundtrack for yr next William Gibson or Neal Stephenson reading session, this could be yr ticket. Also, filmmakers, somebody needs to lay Malone’s sounds to celluloid. You heard it here first!
I won’t give the play by play for the entire record, but the two-fer “Cleaving Warpaths’ Orange” and “Now We Are Dimmer” are my other two favorites, making an exquisite trinity of underwater romance, wormhole questing, and antigravity epiphanies. More than anything, these two tracks illustrate that Yves Malone has real breakout potential, as this is no mere pastiche, or geek collector oddity. The laser synth on “Cleaving Warpaths’ Orange” is phat and full, another reason why we love ’80s synth – you can practically smell the ozone, as electricity passes through transistors, while the beats are smooth, solid, heavy yet graceful. I would lovelovelove to hear this on some progressive techno dancefloor (anyone know someplace in Portland where they play this kind of thing? I need to start my DJ career already.)
And finally, “Now We Are Dimmer” is just beautiful. And ominous. And exciting. This is the sound of discovering the Enochian tablets at the center of the galaxy. It’s far out futurism, but it’s still moving and emotional; truly lovely music, for any synth fan. Plus it’s got bongos! A mash-up of the late ’70s cinefunk syle and the proto-techno industrial synthscapes of the early ’80s. In short, something for everybody, and again, hint hint, perfect for mixes and mixtapes.
As we are continually inundated with digital information, as the air seems to swarm with terrifying nanobots, designed to consume our waking peacefulness, Yves Malone, and fellow synthitects like Perturbator, Zombie Zombie, and Pye Corner Audio remind us to relax, to go back to the feeling of excitement and discovery, that made us all fall in love with music, and genre, or whatever the hell else yr into. The reference to VHS and analog equipment gives this music a tactile quality that i predict will become increasingly meaningful in the years to come, as we strive to come to an uneasy peace with the technology, the information, and the possibilities that surround us every second.
With Yves Malone, you can sense the producer’s hand in the work, in the graceful filter sweeps and hand-programmed drums. Makes you want to dig out yr VHS machine and chop some samples, and create some slime soaked atmospheres of yr own. Of course, it’ll take a while until they’re as good as the subjective soundworlds of Aced