Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Protector 101 Embarks On The Hunter's Journey

The Protector 101 experiment seems to be moving from solid matters, to liquids and now into gaseous forms. This producer's work has taken on entirely new shapes and forms with each successive release. One only needs to partake in the LA Cop Duo EP from May last year, then move into October's The Prime Directives and now to Hunter's Journey to see bold advances and a shifting of soundscapes to be self evident.

With his new EP Protector 101 really does make the leap into purely synth soundtrack work that foregoes much of his dark synth origins and instead becomes more of a director of sounds that form of their own volition, guided by his hand but allowed to choose their own destinies. Nothing in this EP feels fabricated or based of a template and instead we're taken on blind journeys where letting go of the steering wheel and allowing the energies of the machine to take their own course are our guides.

Opening with much ambiance that paints a rusty neon future from a palette of grays the mists begin to part with pulsing echoes of electronic synthscapes amid towering skyscrapers. For such congestion and pollution, nothing feels rushed or ordered, the industrialised future does have an organic heart which emanates strings of human emotions through the streets and skies above. As I mentioned previously, much of the darkness of early Protector 101 experiences seems to have been replaced with more complex emotions, often running concurrently. This is especially pronounced in Club LaZer, with the panic and vengeance on the streets being contrasted by the poetic saxophone layers.

Protector 101's inclusion of these analogue and natural sounds are what tie much of the experiences together. These hints of familiarity draw the listener into the music while other alien concepts are introduced to us vicariously. Again, it's the contrast that provides this magical aesthetic that makes the pieces work on conscious and subconscious levels. Chase Down In Little Tokyo harkens back to some more traditional Protector 101arrangements but the evolutionary step that has been taken between releases make the manifest of an entirely new origin and destination. The coarseness and belligerence is replaced with a balance of light and dark that instills far greater hope and humanity, even in the darkest sectors.

These attitudes are displayed perfectly through Infiltrate. A brutishly powerful bassline threatens to obliterate all in it's path but cumulous synth formations keep the atmosphere balanced and controlled under huge aural threats. I feel like I'm constantly on the verge of falling off the precipice into the twisted  mass of steel and concrete below, but I'm kept from harm by the awesome powers of melody which keep the perspective balanced, albeit on a knife edge.

Through the final chapters of Hunter's Journey the elements at play never give any quarter. The fierceness of the arrangements are set to such an intensity that the fabric of the medium tears and judders; attempting in vain to control the uncontrollable. The rise and fall of the hero is described in a pastiche of moments that become a timeless myth. The triumphant glory of Hunter's Descent is deeply moving as the cost of immortality becomes the unpaid debt to the powers of the universe. The legend of one man will always live on and the story becomes a part of who we are, as if our own pain and joys are shared as one throughout time. The Hunter's Journey has no destination, or conclusion, it is instead a struggle that never ends.

This astonishingly beautiful EP contains a vastness and depth uncommon. It's rare that I can feel every second of a release so intimately, but Hunter's Journey affords me this and each subsequent listen takes me further into the world of Protector 101's vision.  This is truly a Synthetix Reference Experience in the genre of true soundtrack synth work that is most definitely rooted in the classic 80s styles, but is also a timeless record that transcends the concept of time.

The Hunter's Journey EP is presented by Aphasia Records on their Bandcamp page here and I wholly encourage all fans of quality synth music to make this essential and existential musical journey their own.

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