Midi Memory’s New Album Far Gone And Out Is A Playful Fusion Of Synth-Pop and Coldwave
With their sophomore LP, the band offers a special treat for devotees of Black Marble, The Drums, and Molchat Doma.
Far Gone And Out, the new LP from Midi Memory, is an eclectic mix that hits the sweet spot due to its rough, patchwork feel. With every new album, there are always a couple of routes artists can take. Slick production can ensure that every note is polished, but when a group or artist makes the conscious decision not to do this, it’s often that something special occurs. This is the case with Far Gone And Out, a dreamy, yet somehow intimate and familiar record that plays around with sonic contrasts between grittiness and softness, rough edges, and smooth synth lines.
Midi Memory is the brainchild of Orlando, Florida-based Matt Messore, whose other project, Cathedral Bells, has seen over two LPs, Velvet Spirit, and Ether. It’s obvious that he shares many of the same inspirations and influences between the projects. Still, there is a distinct sense that he has thrown off some of his Lo-Fi ambience to embrace a darker and more gothic outlook with his work on this LP, the first full-length release under a new name.
Far Gone And Out feels like one perpendicular step away from the muddled Lo-Fi sounds of his other work, not a whole leap. Its differences contrast with its similarities. It’s this that makes it exciting in an uncanny way. For those familiar with Cathedral Bells, Midi Memory is subtle, not jarring. It’s an easy transition of aesthetic for fans of its creator’s other work. Yet it is still unique and playfully different, too.
Messore has previously spoken about his nonlinear, organic writing process. He works symbiotically with his technology, laying down beats and playing around so that all elements fall together naturally. With this approach, it’s not hard to see why the new LP feels so warm and familiar.
Yet furthermore, with Far Gone And Out, Midi Memory has managed to avoid many of the pitfalls that come with this kind of approach. Namely, there is always the risk of falling into autopilot and relying on the most obvious routes for different parts of an arrangement to fit together. As Midi Memory, Matt eschews this. He’s great at adding subtle innovations that aren’t jarring and maintain a cozy yet moody feeling of nostalgia.
Sonically, the LP leads you to believe that amongst the spindly and grim-looking dead branches that grace the front of the album artwork, there would be a lighted window or two. The music makes it easy to imagine a ramshackle house or tumbledown cottage that may hold something dark and mysterious or may equally be a place to hide away from the darkness outside. The contrast lies in features like the hypnotic, sci-fi coldness of “The Awakening” and then the surprise, as it jumps straight into the Lo-Fi indie vocals of “Hands Are Tied”. Next, the two are followed by classic rising synths of the single “Infinite Design”.
If it’s one thing to set out to celebrate analog, it’s another to manage to capture and embody the spirit of the age of analog synths. Midi Memory does this very well, introducing subtle differences such as the drum breakdown at the end of the second single “Eternal Dream” that gives you a sense of a real human being jamming, producing, and experimenting. There’s an intimate connection that has become less and less common in modern music. This isn’t an album which is merely copying particular eras and traditions. It’s managed to immerse itself in the mentality of those times too.
It’s also a celebration of technology, namely, the Roland synth that the album never shies away from. As a result, it’s immensely listenable for underground coldwave fans and those who want a nostalgia injection. It’s also real brain food for the technically-minded musician. Managing to do both is not a small feat but it’s also testimony to the things people still love about the analog synthesis era and the skill with which Far Gone And Out has paid homage to it. The rough and ready, underground feel to the LP is always organic and never hesitant, too.
If Messore took Midi Memory further in the directions he hints at with Far Gone And Out, both Coldwave and Synth-Pop will gain a real gift. It’s not often someone comes along who can combine such high quality with human intuitiveness and a sense of what parts of music conjure up these beloved feelings. Managing to do this throughout both dark and light atmospheres is even harder. Far Gone And Out may be richer and warmer sounding than the gothic titles of its tracks suggest. But it’s this balance that makes it such a rare gem that promises exciting things to come. And, amongst its melancholia, it never, ever loses the human touch.
Midi Memory (US)
Featured Image by Megan Sanchez