Tuesday, August 4, 2020
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cover
Artist: HøRD
Title: Bodies
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Avant! Records
Bodies is the third full-length album from French synthwave producer Sebastien Carl’s solo alias HøRD. Unlike his previous albums, here the eight tracks are numbered rather than titled, and out of order too, which feels like a statement about the musical manufacturing process- but for the music itself it feels a little unjustified, since each track has lyrics.

Predominantly this is dark synthwave, with grandiose and sawtoothy synth chords, steady attitude-laden drum patterns, rumbles and atmospherics aplenty throughout. It’s pitched as ‘RIYL’ for acts like Tangerine Dream, but while there are arpeggios and slow evolutions at play here, there’s also quite a lot of distortion and grit which makes it much darker and more gothic.

“#14” is a strong opener, with a Vieon-style sense of cinematic breadth and a gritty slow drum pattern and a somewhat lethargic pace, before “#16” picks up the energy with purist techno kicks and some synth-toms bordering on cheese. “#02” has a touch more industrial tone in its percussion, and a nicely horror-chaos-tuned organ sound, while “#04” and “#13” are ‘the ballads’ of sorts, and a little more introspective.

“#15” is one of the strongest tracks, a brooding number with a shade of Depeche Mode about it, and final track “#17” is a good example of electro songwriting, with

But for me, there are some minor general problems that affect all the tracks. The vocal is generally quite low in the mix and washed in so much reverb that it becomes difficult to work out what’s being said. Consequently the vocal doesn’t fit the epic, bandwidth-filling scale offered up by the synths- which is a shame as what little I can make out lyrically in tracks like “#04” seems quite strong.

Beyond that, for me there isn’t enough variation in the sounds, particularly the drums and pads, and the fact the tracks are numbered rather than named gradually starts to feel more explicable because, unfortunately, there sometimes isn’t enough to tell them apart. Despite only being a 40-minute album, to an extent there’s a little bit too much of one flavour here, a series of tracks with near-identical approaches and only minor variations of tempo and sound.

It’s a rich and very polished bit of synthwave but I think it’s a little too by-the-numbers.

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