NaCL is an Electronic / Dance music producer, DJ and Radio Presenter, originally from South Wales now living just outside London, England. “Revenge of the Synth”, is a side project album concept, featuring 6 singer / songwriters who have never met each other in person. NaCL wrote the music for the 16 tracks which appear on the album, while the featured singers and songwriters wrote some of the vocal parts. There are a lot of synthwave artists, but NaCL feels the most polished. His production value is terrific, with layers and layers of sound that don’t merely emulate a by-gone musical era but progress it.
A collage in grit and neon, nostalgia, analogue synth flourishes and mellifluous vocal harmonies, strewn across driving rhythms and banging drums, “Revenge of the Synth” promises a contemporary paean to the age when electronic music was in its late-twentieth century evolution. NaCL’s album delivers exactly this, and more.
The songs demand your attention, as the project’s cinematic sound puts you in a time-travelling musical trance. But this is far from being a retro album. It’s solidly set in the here and now. From track one, “The Year is 2020”, NaCL manages to keep the nostalgia fresh, with bubbling, pulsating synths and swooning, echoing toms.
Despite NaCL and his collaborators knowing exactly how to pull on those nostalgic heartstrings, they aren’t one-trick ponies. Which is instantly confirmed on “Insatiable” featuring Angel Morale, where a resonating bassline underscores the sultry soaring vocals. The project’s strength in writing gorgeous melodies and complementing them with shimmering synths shine through.
Throughout, the album is supported by the strength of its songwriting and the sheer appeal of the sound NaCL and his crew have created. This is evident on the luscious groove of “Larceny”, featuring the captivating Jasmine Dean. The warmth and immediacy of solo NaCL tracks, such as “Laser Love”, “The Rum Runner” and “All of the Night”, pinpoints that the production on this album is absolutely pristine.
NaCL has made sure that every reverb-soaked layer of analogue synthesizer sound is perfectly placed in the mix, and balanced by melodramatic drum patterns that always stay true to their influence, rather than taking a more standard EDM trajectory. “Secrets” features guest vocals from Ashni, sultrily playing off NaCL’s wall of synths, to create a startlingly atmospheric and vibrant soundscape.
While it’s hard to pick out particular highlights, in a package filled with synthwave gems, tracks such as “Make Your Move” ft. Gemma Daltry, and “When The Lights Come On” ft. David Hopkins, display an almost solemn maturity in songwriting and performance, that goes well beyond the norms of this genre. The synthwave movement undeniably shapes the underbelly this record, but NaCL brings real talent and intellectual musical gifts to avoid letting these songs become simple caricatures.
The surging bass-driven rhythm, head-in-the-clouds synths, and playful squiggles suggest something multifaceted and euphoric on “Neon Hustler”, while “Yamaha 82” has an intergalactic momentum, warped synths, and a staggered rhythm. Angel Morale returns to feature on the thrilling sonic build of “Find U Again”. The four to the floor beat of “Animal” underlines the captivating nuances of Christine Todd.
“Revenge of the Synth” also features remixes of two songs which appear on the album previously – namely “Insatiable (12 Inch Dub Mix)” and “Secrets (Guitar Dub Mix)”. Finally, the recording closes with the beautifully morphing sounds of “One of the Crowd”. NaCL is to be applauded for creating such a well-rounded top tier album on the one hand, and a fantastic synth dominated record on the other. This album is perfect just the way it is. No need to say more…except that “Revenge of the Synth” drops on all major platforms August 6th 2020.