The debut album from the unpronouncable IIITAIII is delivered on the vehemently analogue TruthTable label, and the release makes a point of highlighting that “no software was used for any sound generation on this album”- it’s just analogue modular synthesizers, and vocals, and nothing else. So whilst it’s tempting to call parts of this release ‘synthwave’, the band have taken the hard route towards making this dark synthpop album, and the effort seems to have paid off.
Every track was recorded as a performance, to avoid the temptation for endless post-production layering. This self-imposed restriction keeps the tracks cleaner, but it also contributes to a sense of retro.
After the cold intro and Gary Numan-like vocals of “Humanoid”, it’s second track “When It Rains” that really shows what this act is capable of- a sort of post-EDM with a catchy vocal hook and definite crossover potential. However this pop capability and accessibility isn’t fully maintained for the rest of the album.
There’s a certain leisureliness to most of the tracks, with the title track and “How Will It End” stepping an odd line where it’s neither downtempo nor uptempo, and walks along in a kind of smart casual format. This works better when the sounds being used are more expansive and are allowed to feel epic and fill the available space, such as in the nicely pained “Mindstare”, the tenser and more aggressive “Android Parade”, or the measured noisiness of “Voltage Vultures”. Although that being said, the downtempo “Up & Downgrades” does end up being another highlight.
A bit more drama and dynamic across the 36 minutes would’ve helped elevate this album into something spectacular, as it seems to sit in something of a comfort zone. But for a debut album it’s a good showpiece, with some strong musicianship and a lot of potential.