Review: Chrome Sparks evolves synthpop luminosity on debut LP

Chrome Sparks | Chrome Sparks | Counter Records

Release date: April 13th 2018

Review by Jenna Dreisenstock

An expression of growth and unbridled immersion in the new; yearning – a whole auditory world in which to embrace, the overwhelm of beauty in possibility. A delicate separation of sound within itself. The opportunities it presents in the personification of the self -the exploration of the other – a tactile wonderland, playful in its layers of the saccharine and lachrymose. To discard labels and create within the free form, a landscape so vast yet so intricate it needs not definition but uninhibited exploration. The ambience of oneself, the evolution and growth – a re-definition of the old and new in the let go of boundaries; the introspection among the extrovert – the ability to colour the other in learned perspective. The unnatural within the natural, the melancholia within the joy – the combination of all that defines and limits; never stagnant but instead flourishing, creating a blooming, soundscape newborn. Shining new eyes, vibrant in waveforms: the grasp of endless possibility.

An intricate weave of intimacy within sound; the delicate stitching gently taken apart and confidently assembled – with his self-titled debut album, composer Jeremy Malvin embraces his identity as Chrome Sparks, and delves into a cascade of new auditory possibilities. Known for his bold, fervent love of synthesizers and explorative production techniques, Chrome Sparks personifies textural soundscapes with adaptation of musical curiosity through new eyes – a let go from the heavy focus of production techniques from Malvin’s previous EPs, Chrome Sparks pushes the boundaries of genre – each tone, timbre, tempo and pitch holding worlds within their possible exploration and manipulations, the inception of sound within sound and how they interact with one another. Hungry for new ideas, a part of Malvin’s recording process included a trip to a secluded cabin in upstate New York; an introspective experience lasting a month, in which Malvin fully immersed himself in the possibilities of his equipment, and the endless directions in which they can take him. Aside from his own introspection, Chrome Sparks brings forth collaborations as part of his journey: the album features collaborations with artists such as Body Language’s Angelica Bess and Australian duo Kllo. Malvin’s imaginative and experimental approach, his willingness and introspection for new creation and the intimacy of his work spills through in Chrome Sparks’ work.

Rocket’ spills forth in zealous overflow; glitter-pulsing arpeggiated melody. A drift in enthusiastic cascade, a sanguine dance in self-assured melancholia; as the opening track of the album, ‘Rocket’ fashions Malvin’s adoration for synthesizer traverse as an apt introduction to his debut album. The flutter of electronic timbre tenderly rains glissando, in the cacophony of upbeat major and kind minor juxtaposition. The distorted esoteric oscellation of a siren song, fading within // without – in atmospheric accompaniment. The expression of self within the experimental propels the track forward without straying from the familiar; the driving, repetitive synth-line urging movement without dominating the textural aura of layered immersion. A swell of modulation in mood; climatic haze with an accompanying percussive sound embraced with minimalist introspection.

Seeped in a saccharine blend of intricately woven stylistic technique, ‘Sugar’ glimmers with the intimate experimentation of genre present throughout the album. A twinkling ambience dots the twilightscape, the growth of gentle charm colouring a textural world. Honeyed with a soft melody; a tactile web of samples spun as a glimmering lyrical nod toward the soulful influence of R&B beckons like a sweet tooth. The individuality of each sound as an ingredient in Malvin’s playful electronic world building. A percussive glitch simmers the beat in progression, as the rise and fall of the repeating dulcet synth-line animates the atmosphere of ‘Sugar’ in a layered bake; the tender pitch of harmonies in sweetness, complimented by the emotive soul of layered vocal samples. Malvin’s signature immersion flows in the electric; oscillating glissandos and glimmering harmonies – the waves submerge into a focus of synth modulation; dotted by percussive texture, a confidence emerges in melody and atmosphere; the smooth, sincere, stirring ghosts of Jazz and R&B present in emotive progression. A breakthrough of genre, the combination of influence and break-away from a single personification allows the track to re-interpret past influences in a digital and analogue, modern electronic soundscape. A climatic colony in auditory traverse, glittering in a sea of experimentation and atmospheric progression.

The distortion of heavy feedback greets us to ‘All or Nothing’, a collaborative track between Malvin and independent vocalist and producer Angelica Bess – setting the tone for the track, a self-assured electro-pulse creates a spirited, chiptune-esque progression in upbeat character; the presence of processed yet expressive vocal harmony:

“Take it slow..” 

An expansion of the telltale genre-playground created by Malvin; ‘All or Nothing’ combines an IDM-leaning auditory expression, complimented beautifully with Bess’ velveteen vocals; kindly suave in their serenity, Bess’ vocal style renders a comparison to that of the trip-hop immerse of vocalists such as Yukimi Nagano of famed synth-pop group Little Dragon. The silken timbre of Bess’ vocals flows seamlessly; a poised resound of the bass-line – developing a backbone of hypnotic embrace; tranquility in growth and headway. Malvin’s crafted sea-scape; an intricately fashioned, introspective and experimental traverse; shimmering tactile curiosity in each effect-soaked, electro interaction. Sounds in the echo of the other, the sparkle of occasional glissando juxtaposed with the steadiness and focus of the bass-line drives the track. From within, unafraid to explore the heavy, multiple timbre of bass; in brass instrument echo, electro vigor with textural immersion; Malvin balances multiple sea-scapes of mood, tone and timbre in collaboration with Bess.

A submerge of reverb-soaked melody cool in a moody engulf, we are beckoned into ‘Attack Sustain Release‘ – the hypnotic resonance of the synth line is comparable to the dark, effect-drenched sounds of the 80’s, an enrapturing nostalgia of retro science-fiction films or video games. A collaboration with vocalist and producer Graham Ulicny, Malvin’s curiosity and playful nature of combing various elements of genres. The slightly melancholic, dark-wave arpeggios of the synth shift retain their personality yet grow in tone and movement as the track progresses: Ulicny’s polished, confident vocals intertwine elements of animated pop within the juxtaposing (yet, still complimentary) synth-wave electro-aesthetic. The heart-beat ambience of melancholia nests within the track, in the sincerity of Ulicny’s vocal style as well as Malvin’s electronica playground. ‘Attack Sustain Release‘ acts as an apt title, with reference to synthesizer jargon: “ADSR” better known among tech-junkies, “Attack-Decay-Sustain-Release”, terms used regarding the tweaking and reinvention of auditory form and shape in signal – a personification of the album itself.

The self-titled debut album by Chrome Sparks allows us into Malvin’s personal auditory curiosity; an arms-wide-open embrace in the search for new ideas, textures and atmospheres. Chrome Sparks approach to his engulf of growth and collaboration in style, creates a unique perspective within his rich electronic worlds. Filled with possibilities to the touch, Malvin is unafraid to expand, to build and to destroy – to break-apart genre expectations, to delve deeply into the intricate components of each individual sound and the many roles in which they can play; an ever changing atmosphere, a world of new ideas and new chances for growth – sounds that may stray from Malvin’s previous works, yet still retain the personification of his sound within the core of their being.

Order Chrome Sparks’s debut LP via iTunes

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