I sort of suspect, here, that the emperor wears no clothes. Liquid Soul has perfected that laid-back, laconic prog – no argument there. But Synthetic Vibes sounds a lot more like an act resting on its laurels rather than trying to do anything seriously exciting.
Each of these nine tracks are desperately similar, to the point that you almost can’t tell one from another. This does of course mean that the album flows as a whole very nicely, but only if you have it on as background.
The title track is effortlessly cruisy, with clean linear sounds all perfectly-placed around a smooth ebb that moves just like water. Fair enough. Crazy People does the same. Escape has some nice sounds in it, and goes for a more atmospheric feel, but you have the feeling listening to it that it was laid down by a musician taking no risks, playing it safe, and sticking to a tried and tested formula.
The Source has some spartan 303 that’s a nice touch, but once again we’re in the realm of very simple, albeit very tight, music. This is another issue; the melodies that Liquid Soul deploys are all of the one-handed-keyboard-player approach, which makes the music something that hovers around the surface instead of going deeper – something that, from a production point of view, is definitely within his ability.
I Get A Rush is, of course, a stormer – one of the biggest tunes of 2006 and by a long stretch the most cohesive track here. And still, after god knows how many listens, it’s still as staggering a track as it was when you first heard it. Unannounced Portal is engaging yet bland, 06:15am is busting with swirls and pulses and not much else, and Capoccino sounds as though it was assembled from the offcuts of previous album tracks.
The downtempo Tagtraum confirms that Liquid Soul is a good producer, but it’s really not enough. Yes this album will sound good if you’re chilling at home on a warm afternoon with some mates. And the music is exactly what you want to hear in the late morning of a party: fluid, cruisy, and with lots of noises that tickle the parts of your brain activated by ecstasy. But that’s pretty much all there is to it.
Impressive, but boring. Glistening, but vacuous.
The emperor, it would seem, is stark bollock naked. Don’t tell anyone.