Azriel: IVY

a0909397016_10The latest release by Azriel feels like a mix between a concept album and the long-lost soundtrack to a cult science fiction film or video game. With but a hint of story supplied at the bottom of the bandcamp page, “IVY” is the name of a new kind of android, with the sounds on this album being about their exploits in Neo New York on the planet Aegis.

Those are but the little crumbs you are left with, but the real main course is in the songs themselves, with titles that suggest actions and scenes which your brain must then use to fill in the blanks as you listen along to the music. All together they have a haunting tone to them, otherworldly and technological, with a real sense of danger; as any piece of cyberpunk tech noir should.

While I will not be reviewing each and every song, there are a few that I want to highlight, although I would like to stress once more that I feel this is an album which needs to be listened to straight through from beginning to end. It’s a listening experience. After all, one does not watch a movie or play a game out of order. Even still, there are a few songs that stick out, at least to me:

  • “I Am Alive” is an interesting track for the sole reason of the vocal work, as they themselves are synthesized to be not unlike that of a robot, which makes sense given the context of the backstory to the album. There are other songs which contain some vocal sampling later but, since this song is near the beginning, it sticks out and helps to signify what’s on the horizon.
  • “I’m Not A Freaky Circus” is one of the more aforementioned haunting tones, unsettling in its design, sort of how I often feel when I visit the circus. Nonetheless, it is a great song due to these facts, and rather simple in it’s execution as well. It can often be surprising how the simplest of things can make the biggest impacts and this one certainly did for me.
  • With a name like “Ivy’s Assault,” it’s no surprise it’s a pulse-pounding action oriented track, but what is a nice surprise is the fantastic guitar work. In the theater of my mind, I could only imagine the titular Ivy running rough shot with all guns blazing, taking down and all who dare stand in their way.

Now, I feel it is imperative that I mention this before concluding my review: if you click the “info” button for each track, Azriel actually does have commentary which more or less explains what is going on story wise for each song. I myself did not read these until after I had listened to the album in full, twice, so therefore I found it to be an interesting comparison between what Azriel intended and what my mind pieced together while listening.

It amazed me how, more often than not, I got it right which I think says something about Azriel’s abilities. I will say that it certainly made for an interesting third listen and, while there is never a wrong way to enjoy an album, I just thought it was important to mention this in case you wanted to approach it from a certain angle. Either way, this is a great release, and further proves Azriel to be an effective synthwave storyteller. I look forward to the next experience.