Matt Antonich takes a look at the forthcoming new album from Lymbyc Systym
With each new release brothers Michael and Jared Bell, known as Lymbyc Systym, push their sound further. In a time when the grating noise of dubstep is popular, innovators like Moby are content to churn out similar-sounding slow and moody records, and Daft Punk are a hot act for copying 70’s disco-funk and wearing gimmicky robot costumes, the brothers Bell are expanding their horizons and making some of the best electronic music to be heard. Their latest record, Split Stones (due out October 16th on Western Vinyl), once again sees the duo branching out with a distinctly new wave, retro vibe, infectious pop hooks, and sweeping synths not unlike Vangelis.
Indeed, the promo-speak says the album was partially inspired by Vangelis, but it’s one thing to be inspired or influenced by and another thing to copy someone’s sound. Lymbyc Systym have deftly avoided the latter by infusing the cinematic sound of the legendary, boundary-pushing composer with more common pop and dance music elements. This is technically the most dance-friendly record the duo have put out, but Lymbyc Systym’s complex and layered sound begs to be listened to first and foremost. Every listen yields some new element you missed, such as the “Chariots of Fire”-esque claps on “Pulses”, the album’s penultimate track.
There’s a sense of warmth to the record, unlike the cold, computerized sound of most electronic music. Analog synths, traditional piano, and a combination of excellent drum programming and live drumming meld together as tracks build and build, adding layer after layer to a simple hook until they’re alive with energy. Standout track “Paraboloid” sounds like it stepped right out of the 80s, but it’s far from cheesy dance music. Lymbyc Systym have a knack for crafting songs with incredibly emotive and expressive note and chord progressions. “Geometer” begins with bubbly synths and an unforgettable hook, but through the course of its six minute running time it shifts and changes. To my ears, it sounds celebratory and uplifting, but I could understand how someone else might hear melancholy or somber tones. There’s a depth in each track, an emotional core that is lacking in so much modern music, even with the absence of lyrics.
The title track is another stunner. It’s vintage Lymbyc Systym, looping and layering simple patterns to build something bigger. Even the album’s short finale, “Scientific Romance”, is awash with beautiful sounds – though it’s a shame it’s barely over a minute. There are two short interludes as well, both under a minute, but the album itself weighs in at a respectable 42 minutes of pure gold.
The band’s last full-length album, Symbolyst, was one of my favorite records of 2012, and Split Stones is well on its way to becoming one of my favorites of 2015. It’s evocative and emotional while retaining the simple pleasures of good pop music and the kinetic energy of a well-made dance album. Drum patterns seem designed to make you move, but the melodies are more contemplative – like the group wants you to think about why you’re dancing in the first place. Split Stones is just as easily enjoyed while laying on the couch with headphones as through giant speakers. In fact, I’d highly recommend you experience it with headphones to get the full effect. However you listen to it, just make sure that you do.
Favorite tracks: "Geometer", "Split Stones", "Paraboloid"
Split Stones will be released October 16th, 2015 via the Western Vinyl label.