Published on Sunday, 06 December 2015 18:14
Album: A Dance Of Shadows
Release date: 1 October 2015
03. Like A Curse (feat. Monte Pittman)
04. One Last Kiss
05. Script (feat. Darren Travis)
07. To Live And Die On The Air (feat. Cody Carpenter)
08. You'll Be Mine
09. Motionless (bonus track)
Business in the front, party in the back! Yes, that is still my first association when it comes to 80s music, but you know what – it is 2015 now and tables have turned drastically. Somewhere in mid-2000s a new musical style emerged to the surface, the so called synthwave or retrowave, which glorifies and embodies everything that 80s stand for – a huge amount of analogue synthesizer melodies, creating the feel we got from great cinematic music of the era, as well as video game, television series and cartoon music, alongside with the futuristic ambiance and sometimes with a glimpse of what was contemporary in the 80s music scene. Retrowave is not only a music genre, but became a cultural movement, with accompanying visual aspect and even got its own festival Synthzilla, which debuted this year in France, so I believe to say retrowave – even though it is rooted in the past – is here to stay and flow into the future.
This particular genre was created (and had created itself) by quite a line of musicians and Confrontational is the name I daresay you will be seeing connected to the genre a lot in the future. A project run by the incredible multi-talented musician, vocalist and producer Massimo Usai, released its first EP Done With You earlier this year and then as the ideas started colliding, his debut A Dance Of Shadows saw the light of the day. Usai is however no newcomer on the music scene. Before Confrontational, he was a part of a darkwave duet Dahlia Indaco and also noise rockers recs of the flesh. As both are no more, he decided to go on his own, take his love for zombie movies, 80s electronic music and soundtrack music and made it real. And what comes in so lovely when you mix all those interests together, is an album, which depicts such a wide array of wild ambiances, which vary from horror-esque through grieving and soaring to simply danceable, pop-ish tunes. The opening, instrumental "Shadowdancing" is a jewel for itself and a great opener, as it simply engulfs you into its horrorish, futuristic and transcendental melody, which intensifies throng the entire track and makes you want to discover the depths of A Dance Of Shadows furthermore. On the following "Flat/Line" Massimo presents himself with his vocal work, which is a case for itself, since his voice is really specific and very emotional and surely adds a nice amount of atmosphere to the music. A Dance Of Shadows is therefore not just another electronic release, which has its roots in the retro sound, but his love for the darkwave and goth rock become notable, as he shifts away from the soundtrack music style and peers more into creating a deeply sorrowing sensations. Similarly, the feeling of obscurity, fear and inner pain are also vividly portayed in "Forsaken" and "One Last Kiss". For the contrast, Confrontational is not afraid to step into the realm of more eerie, danceable and incredibly catchy tunes, as he presents them in tracks such as "You'll Be Mine".
Not only Usai managed to present himself as a great musician by delivering such a wide palette of sounds in his debut, he had quite some interesting guests working with him on the album. "Like A Curse", which is another track that depicts the heavy syths of 80s synth-pop and the gloominess of darkwave, features Monte Pittman, whom you may know as a long-time guitarist of American metal band Prong. And if you're not familiar with that, it won't hurt to mention Pittman was also a long-time guitarist for the queen of pop Madonna and is also known for working with the currently popular Adam Lambert. So you can imagine a man with such impressive resume enriched "Like A Curse" greatly with his guitar work, adding a nice amount of edge and heaviness to the track with a nicely inserted guitar solo. Also, I imagine you all know who the great John Carpenter (who is listed as a major influence of many retrowave musicians) is, right? Well, like father, like son, as his son Cody Carpenter is himself an emerging musician in the electronic music scene with his project Ludrium and contributed to the track "To Live And Die On The Air", a song which again portrays the synth-driven sound of 80s in all its glory and also adds a glimpse of horror film sountrack to it. And last, but not least, Darren Travis, the vocalist and guitarist of thrash metallers Sadus left his seal with his voice on the deeply atmospheric and dark two minute intermezzo "Script", which sort of holds a part of a narrative opening into the second half of the album.
Putting all those names aside, Confrontational is still Massimo Usai in its core and after going from darkwave scene, through noise rock, he found he needs to pour his talent and ideas into music, which combines the elements of dark electro, as well as goth rock, darkwave with film score music and succeeded in creating a very diverse, mesmerizing and notable debut. In the end I have nothing more to say than if you're feeling nostalgic for that vintage tunes or you find yourself enjoying contemporary retrowave artists such as Carpenter Brut, Perturbator or Dance With The Dead, give Confrontational a listen, because you won't be disappointed. Because what A Dance Of Shadows gives you is a wonderful trip down the memory lane with and it truly does feel, like you're dancing with shadows.
Review written by: Ines