Category: Electro / New Wave / Rock
Blurb: Klayton’s love letter to ‘80s cyberpunk, set in the neon-lit technological claustrophobia of Neo-Tokyo, achieves a richly textured sound with some catchy moments.
Klayton – the prolific producer behind Celldweller and Circle of Dust – embarks on yet another musical outing, this time with the backdrop of ‘80s cyberpunk as his inspirational stomping ground. Scandroid’s self-titled debut album serves as a soundtrack to a futuristic tale set on the urban neon-lit rain-washed streets of Shibuya, Neo-Tokyo in the year 2517, following a revolutionary figure named Red as he unearths the retro sound of old by way of ancient technology, the music a throwback to the synth-laden scores of ‘80s sci-fi cinema. This might sound quaint and hardly groundbreaking given the recent wave of music and media inspired by this era, but in the hands of an accomplished producer like Klayton, one can be sure that Scandroid’s music achieves a depth of sound that is unmatched.
“2517” opens the proceedings like a synthesized overture, Klayton’s robotic voice setting the stage amid warbles and waves of analog synths and pulsating bass that will remind many of Power Glove’s score to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon or even in some passages John Carpenter’s theme for Escape from New York. Then “Salvation Code” enters with its infectious beat, squelching synth leads, and catchy vocal melodies to make for one stellar dance floor track. The same can be said of the crystalline guitar and echoing vocals amid throbbing bass on “Empty Streets,” and the instrumental “Destination Unknown,” a track riddled with tension and vigor, like the soundtrack to a chase sequence. Other tracks like “Aphelion,” “Datastream,” the celestial and bombastic “Eden,” and the instrumental “Atom & E.E.V.” slow the pace down, relying more on emphasizing the ambience and emotional gravitas of the story at play, the latter especially recalling the neo-noir compositions of Vangelis for the Blade Runner score with its tones reminiscent of a bluesy saxophone. Similarly, “Singularity” is perhaps the most orchestral and epic in tone, as if to signifying one’s ascent into a higher cosmic state of being, while “Pro-Bots & Robophobes” is perhaps the hardest hitting track on the album with its aggressive rhythms and martial atmosphere.
As stated, some may detect a similarity in style to the likes of likeminded acts like Scattle, Perturbator, or the aforementioned Power Glove, all of whom create their own inspired audio/visual worlds in the same vein. However, again it must be said that Klayton’s prowess as a producer has served him well, for the sound of Scandroid contains some of the richest textures one could ever hope to achieve. Unfortunately, Scandroid falters in the fact that while each song has its place in the narrative, it’s not a particularly interesting one, which tends to limit the lasting appeal of more than a few tracks. After all, how many times have we seen or heard a cyberpunk story involving a lone revolutionary in a world of technological oppression, where human emotion is subjugated under the cold logic of machine? It’s not that Scandroid is a bad album or story; just not a clever or original one, although the excellent and faithful cover of Tears for Fears’ “Shout” and how Klayton manages to make its lyrics fit in the overall scheme is quite noteworthy. Given Klayton’s numerous Soundtrack for the Voices in My Head and Transmissions releases, as well as the narratives he has presented in his Celldweller outings, it can be said that while Scandroid is not Klayton’s finest work, it is clearly little more a passion project, his nerdy love letter to the ‘80s. For fans of the man’s work, that will surely be enough.
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Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)