Thursday, November 10, 2016

Alex Giudici's Civic Duties

By Sarah Halloran

Isn’t it great when you stumble across an artist you’d never heard before, and find they have a substantial back catalog just waiting for you to pick your way through? That’s what happened with Alex Giudici, and while I only have time and room to focus on his latest album, ‘Civic’, I implore you to check out his older works. Be prepared for just a little diversity, and then some!

Okay, knuckles cracked, coffee imbibed and headphones on, let’s jump straight in! Actually, before I do, it’s worth mentioning that the first thing that jumped out about ‘Civic’ was its artwork. The cover art, also produced by Alex, is a fabulous mulberry-hued art deco cityscape that takes a refreshing break from the pentagrams, leather-clad bikers, neon grids and naked women peeking through window blinds artwork that is always doing the rounds!

Civic kicks off nicely with ‘Tyrannical Behaviour (Feat. David Kaye)’. It’s a cracking start. Tremendously dark with its quirky off-key notes and pounding energy, this track stirred up images of a dark and foreboding ‘War of the Worlds’ panorama with alien craft just emerging over the horizon, obliterating everything that dares to stray in their path.

‘Good Riddance’ features next. Picture a smoky bar and a rendezvous between two enemies. It’s amicable, although both survey each other with apprehension, their minds only one thought away from the guns at their sides. They both take a drink at the bar, discussing the deal they have been sent to agree. The music in the bar builds, a bassline pulses helped along by a rattlesnake percussion that further adds to the tension. The deal is done, both depart through separate doors. Nobody dies today.

The city awakens from its slumber, although it never really sleeps. In a dystopian world, where survival is a 24/7 occupation, the sunrise simply serves as a light source and not the beautiful vision it once was. ‘Sunrise’ is a glorious track. Clean and cheery notes muscle their way through a dark underbelly of oppression, rising from the ashes to meet the sun as it takes its place high above the city to shine down on the death and destruction below.

Title track ‘Civic’, ‘Ride Behind You (Remastered)’ and ‘Beyond Emotions (Feat. Michael Ansara)’ make for perfect night-driving companions with their beautiful piano melodies, edgy synths and dank basslines. Forget the high octane mindless drive you might be expecting; these are tracks that evoke at-the-wheel contemplation at its very best. Girl let you down? Man left town? Get out there and let the music heal your soul.

I think I’ve mentioned it in many reviews, but I do love to hear a good bit of synthwave sax, and ‘After Dark’ doesn’t disappoint. The sax is just wonderful in that lazy, hazy jazz club kind of way, and sounds fantastic through headphones.

Okay, ready for some of that Alex Giudici diversity I was talking about before? Well, next track ‘Star Wolf (Feat. Jock Blaney)’ really changes the pace. The opening notes put me in mind of Sega’s ‘ToeJam and Earl’ and I hope I don’t do Alex an injustice by saying that! It’s pure Funkatron through and through! And then I’ll be damned but we’re treated to some panpipes! I wasn’t expecting those to appear, and usually I hate panpipes with a passion. And all of this amidst some wonderful synth action and ‘Star Fox’ samples. Ah, the memories.

Want to know what drew me to ‘Civic’ despite the artwork? You don’t? Well I’m going to tell you anyway. Scrolling through the track listing I came across ‘Rhythm of the Night (Remastered)’ and that sparked my interest! And it works! Really well! I imagine this was a lot of fun to break down and produce. Deliciously layered with an eclectic range of synths, this will have you singing the chorus you know so well whilst also appreciating the original track in a completely new light.

Hey do you want more of those quirky slightly off-kilter notes? Do you have a bit of a thing for evil computers? Then you’re going to love next track, H.A.R.D.A.C. (Feat. Kevin Conroy and Melissa Gilbert). This is my favourite track on the album, and conjures up images of a trash-strewn, post-apocalyptic landscape, devoid of obvious human life and inhabited only by android lifeforms. It’s only when you look closer that you realise the androids are people you once knew from a life you can barely remember.

The album is rounded off nicely with two killer tracks of equal merit, but with very different soundscapes. ‘Sex Sells’ is top-heavy with drums and accompanied by a brutal throbbing bassline and beautifully arranged synths. This is an album of contrasts and closes wonderfully with gorgeous heartstring puller ‘Tears in Rain’.

When you listen to ‘Civic’ a few times it’s obvious this is an album that has been carefully planned to perfection rather than just a compilation of finished tracks that have been lumped together for the sake of releasing an album. What’s next for Alex? Well, he’s got a number of things in the works including remixing the original Tomb Raider theme and more remixes from the Portal 2 soundtrack. You’ll also find a beautiful piano rendition of title track ‘Civic’ and an awesome mix of La Roux’s ‘In For The Kill’ on his Soundcloud channel.

Alex Giudici’s ‘Civic’ album is available to purchase on Bandcamp here, and comes very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.


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