Oct 10, 2012 Web Exclusive
An electronic subgenre has been steadily propagating from antique synthesizers, unearthed by current-day bands to pay tribute to the pulsing, electronic film scores of the late ’70s and ’80s, from artists such as Giorgio Moroder, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, Wendy Carlos, Goblin, and John Carpenter. Largely instrumental and often obsessed with a nostalgic view of the future as it was imagined during the days of Rubik’s Cubes and the Atari 2600, these artists must contend with the limitations of their digital instruments, which can imbue the music with a sterile, sometimes soulless feel. And because they’re following in the footsteps of some of cinema’s best composers, it takes a lot for a band of this sort to sound like more than a cheap knock-off.
New York’s Chrome Canyon is wise to stay away from straight-up pastiche; Elemental Themes borrows sounds and ideas from the sci-fi soundtracks of yesteryear but gives them an organic heart. Live drums, bass, and guitars merge with the whistling Theremins and analog synths; the record succeeds most when these living elements mix with the artificial. You can close your eyes and picture these tracks playing under the action of some lost Ridley Scott film, particularly in the darker, more moody numbers. It’s the more joyous pieces that win out, however: the single “Memories of a Scientist” shifts into a peppy funk breakdown at the song’s midpoint. Moments such as these, littered throughout Elemental Themes, help Chrome Canyon stand out from the rest of the retro-futurist flock.
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 7/10