Postmodern Machine’sAquamarine (2022) is a full-length, uniquely melodious electronic record that courses gleefully through its own complexity and charm. Aquamarine’s unrelenting sequences and clever song structures keep listeners engaged as film-score-esque compositions are joined with hypnotic soundscapes to create a cold and starry sonic world.
The album opens with an icy riff that serves as the theme for the first track, “Synonym Bunz.” A chilled, sparkling synth riff ebbs and flows through a driving kick drum as synthetic vocal lines emerge with a ghostly air. A sample-based approach to employing acoustic instrumentation denotes the marriage between contrasting genre-forms on this record as a whole. The artist uses clips, or samples, of instrumentation and stitches them into their compositions.
Human vocals and piano surge playfully through a unifying lens that leaves room for experimentation while adhering to an intentional sense of order with respect to composition. Modular synthesizers, where individual analogue modules are connected via patch cables to create an array of sounds, are used throughout this record. The trance-like use of repeating musical phrases establish foundational integrity for free-flowing synthesizers to float over the retro-futuristic arpeggio lines.
A synth-wave quell emerges as a voice commands us to adjust our sound to a “normal volume” in “Tiny Agents of Chaos.” A warm and complicated synth line dances over a growing drum beat as melodies peak and dissipate over dance rhythms and heavily modulated riffs.
A steady kick pulses over an acoustic piano solo before moving into “Renegades of Love,” a track for which vocals are lent to an 80’s, synth-pop ode. Delayed drums and cinematic strings grow over an expanse of acoustic samples. The dramatic crescendo falls back to its humble, synth-pop beginnings before ending with a climactic climb in intensity. A lonely piano moves into the dramatic “The Air That Surrounds Us” before bringing us back into the beat driven, static charm of “Snoglob.”
Aquamarine is a very personal record in which the artist has tied their musical experience with lived experience to create a well-though-out and well performed record. Aquamarine is consistent, intentional and beautifully composed.