Paul Handley’s digital-only self-released Midnight Zone is a compact 34-minute, 9-track set of instrumental synth and electronica with a bright, sci-fi, soundtracky (or maybe library music-esque) feel to it. Perky beeps and optimistic-sounding chord pads wash over soft drum machine patterns and steady synthbass, creating something with the melody heavily at the forefront.
At its best there are shades of Jean-Michel Jarre in the melodic work, or maybe some of Tangerine Dream’s poppier 80’s material. Highlights include the broad scope of “Lost Horizon” and the nice use of slightly Delerium-esque vocal pads and ahhhs on “A Brighter Day”.
At its worst it’s just a bit forgettable. These sounds have all been done rather a lot before and it can just wash over you and be a bit disengaging. Tracks like “Eclipsed” are a touch nothing-y. At times it sounds like the underscore for some teutonic electropop band who haven’t got around to laying their sinister vocals on yet.
The homemade flavour that’s apparently in the (in my opinion amateurish) artwork is audible as well, but less so- just some hints of ‘soft’ mastering which make some of the punchier tracks, such as the title track, not quite as zingy as they might have been. Thankfully that’s a minor criticism though, it’s still a good sound.
A release worth checking out on Bandcamp for people looking for a bit more instrumental and sci-fi synthwave in their life.