Music Reviews

Artist: System 56
Title: System 56
Format: 12"
Label: Synthetic Shadows
Rated: *****
Formed in the winter of 1981 near Cleveland, System 56, armed with a Teac 3340-S reel to reel tape recorder, started to work on their songs. Influenced by early Ultravox (the Foxx period), Cars, Simple Minds and so on, the band had four different line-ups and the only permanent members were Steve Simenic Guitar/vocals) and drummer Vince Scafiti. In early 1982 they released their first single "Metro-Metro b/w In the Old World', two songs that showed really well their style which was a mix of synth melodies backed by a driving bass/drums section and guitar riffs. Melody was also an important part of their music and they started to gather fans and soon after they started to play live. Unfortunately, at is at that point that the first split happened. The duo went to the studio and recorded the six tracks EP 'Beyond The Parade'. 'Brave New Toys', 'Through Other Eyes' or 'Hands Of A Stranger' didn't suffer from the split and they sound bright, melodic, powerful and inspired. A good mix of new wave, synth wave and that sort of proto punk characteristic of early Ultravox. For the next single 'Life On A Cool Curve b/w The Other Side Of Science', the duo was joined by Paul Teagle on synths and they had as guest, Phil Capone on sax. The first song had a synth arpeggio as main bass lines and synth pads to thicken the atmosphere. Steve's guitar riffs gave to the mix a certain rock wave atmosphere that on the B side was less present as 'The Other Side Of Science' is a atmospheric mid tempo with guitar sparse arpeggios and cool synth lines. A curiosity: this song has the same atmospheres of some that Type O Negative did but System 56, recorded it ten years before. The band, with a new line-up that integrated Tom Lash on bass guitar, released their last 12' in 1984. 'A Man Needs A Motor b/w Shapes Of Things' were the songs and the first on is a good post wave guitar driven song with dissonances and nice synth lines. From the same recording session we also have 'The Sounding', 'Your Car Is Waiting' and 'Next To X' but not on this compilation released by Synthetic Shadows as this has the same track list of the CD-r 'Retrospective: 1982-83' that the band self released in 2003 but those three songs are missing. Anyway, System 56 songs sound really nice and they grow with the listenings. As usual, you can check all of them at the label's Bandcamp page here

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