"Live from Night City" (1196733 Records DK; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Ever hear of synthwave? Yeah, it's another of the over four billion or so sub-genres of music out there. I know true synthwave fans will argue my description of it but I don't give a fuck. You know those great John Carpenter movies? "Halloween," "Escape from New York," "They Live," "Ghosts of Mars"? John Carpenter not only directed those movies, he wrote and performed their music scores. That's how I describe synthwave. And I freaking love it.

Now, Giant Monsters on the Horizon may be not purely be a synthwave band. They're probably better described as electronica/synthwave, not that the two genres are too far apart. Their new CD, "Live from Night City" (which is not a live album at all) is a gritty, throbbing meets collection of tracks (the band calls them "stories") that examine the current human condition. "Live from Night City" explores loneliness, isolation, depression, mistrust and other ailments affecting all too many of us. Asks the band: "For all of the technological advances we have made in the world, we are at a much worse place than we ever thought we would be. Welcome to Night City. So how did we get here?"

One of the things I love most about synthwave is the ability of the music to tell a story, with or without lyrics. "Live from Night City" isn't an instrumental album—and the lyrics herein are an important part of the release—but the music drives the storytelling here in the same way those John Carpenter scores drive the storytelling in movies.

The synthesizers, effects and style of instruments used by Giant Monsters on the Horizon may not be to everyone's taste. I know this music drives my wife insane. And if you're looking for an uplifting experience, you won't find it here. What you will find is a fascinating exploration of some of life's current woes and that makes "Live from Night City" a fascinating listen.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2020 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.