Feb 2018 17

Psy'Aviah - LightflarePsy’Aviah
Category: Electro / EBM
Album: Lightflare
Blurb: With a bevy of guest vocalists, Psy’Aviah unveils its latest electrified opus as a commentary on human relationships, a “testament to hope” that may be the band’s most accomplished record to date.


Psy’Aviah, the project of Yves Schelpe, has been a mainstay of the electronic music scene for over 15 years while also defying any label that would confine it to one genre. With few exceptions, most of Psy’Aviah’s output could be considered dark and brooding commentary on society and relationships; however, Schelpe’s newest album, Lightfare is being presented as his “testament to hope” and the lighter feel of the album certainly reflects this.

The album opens with the track “Lost at Sea,” featuring vocals from Providence, Rhode Island native and frequent vocal contributor Mari Kattman. Starting with a quiet aria accompanied by a synth tone that rings like a bell, the song comes at you in waves. The first wave building with Kattman’s imploring vocals supported by increasingly expansive synths until finally crashing upon you during the chorus, leaving you with an almost calm before beginning the cycle again. After the second crash, we are treated to some excellent vocal work by Kattman that continues the mood of the song, one wave coming at you again and again until ending the track with a longing calm and the ringing synth we started with. Having assumed the vocal duties for Psy’Aviah’s live shows in support of the previous album Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars, Marieke Lightband appears on “The Great Disconnect.” The track starts with a somber piano tone and is soon joined by light melancholic vocals supported by some equally forlorn synth waves, eventually brightening somewhat during the chorus with additional synths presenting themselves like a big band horn section. However, neither this nor the light vocal arias that end the track are able to uplift the dispiriting mood of the song. Similarly, with what is probably the most danceable beat heard on this release, “Reboot, Reset, Relay” begins with a discordant synth pulse that builds until overtaken by a powerful synth riff that slams into and holds onto your consciousness. Fallon Nieves’s heavily effected vocals are an almost insidious presence throughout the track when not giving way to dynamic synth lines that contrast her nearly monotone delivery. The same can be said of her performance in “Mr. Vanity,” which starts with a spoken refrain that builds amid aggressive synths and antagonistic lyrics. Both songs project feelings of despair with the message of wishing to ignore your feelings like a robot, with Ben Van de Cruys offering some nice guitar work on the latter track that helps carry the melody lest it be overtaken by the heavy percussion. Other tracks like “Ghost,” with David Chamberlin’s breathy vocals adding to the ethereal synth that gives way to a clean bass line and simple beat, and “Lonely Soul,” led by the disconsolate vocals of Phoebe Stone, carry a more disconnected vein with the latter especially reinforced by gloomy synths and harmonization in the chorus to add depth. On the other hand, these moods are somewhat rehabilitated with tracks like the upbeat “Sound of New,” which is poppy in the best possible way as Addie Nicole’s enjoyable vocal performance delivering a relatable message that music can be one of the most powerful influences on your psyche and life – welcoming and encouraging, this song is easily one of this writer’s favorites on the album. MiXE1’s Michael Evans appears on tracks like the high energy “Game Changer,” on which Van de Cruys’ forceful guitar in the chorus kicks things into a higher gear and provides some much needed levity, and “In the Sound,” on which Evans goes from melodic to full-on rap lines, occasionally overtaken by the backing synth until he reasserts his dominance. Taking us in a different direction musically, “For Myself” could probably be an alt./rock anthem as it seems geared toward towards promoting personal empowerment and self-reliance with vocals provided by Lofthill.

Overall, this is another quality album from Yves Schelpe and helps cement his reputation as one of the best technical musicians working today. While most of the tracks do seem to follow the same formula of intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge, etc., the album is full of some very well constructed songs and excellent sounds. While Mari Kattman and Addie Nicole really stood out as highlights for this writer, Schelpe, without exception, selected performers whose voice and style work perfectly with the musical accompaniment he provided them. The production quality on the album is stellar and each track flows well into the next, and as a self-described “testament to hope,” some of the song lyrics are downright depressing. But if the correct message of Lightflare is that depressing times are transitory, which is reflected in some of the lightness of the album, than one receives confidence that there is good reason for hope.
Track list:

  1. Lost at Sea (feat. Mari Kattman)
  2. Aftermath (feat. Ellia Bisker)
  3. The Great Disconnect (feat. Marieke Lightband)
  4. Sound of New (feat. Addie Nicole)
  5. In the Sound (feat. MiXE1)
  6. For Myself (feat. Lofthill)
  7. Heavy Heart (feat. Mari Kattman)
  8. Reboot Reset Relay (feat. Fallon Nieves)
  9. Ghost (feat. David Chamberlin)
  10. Lonely Soul (feat. Phoebe Stone)
  11. Plan B (feat. Kyoko Baertsoen)
  12. Game Changer (feat. MiXE1)
  13. Under the Rain (feat. Koner)
  14. Mr. Vanity (feat. Fallon Nieves)

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Alfa Matrix
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp
Purchase at:
Amazon CD (Standard Edition)
Amazon CD (Deluxe Edition)
Amazon MP3 (Standard Edition)
Amazon MP3 (Deluxe Edition)
William Dashiell Hammett (WDH)

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