With soothing synths and killer beats, Kent/London DJ BEKIMACHINE brings a fresh take to the synthpop genre via her new single Saga.
Synthpop isn’t something I often frequent, with most of the music I consume ranging from the calming to the schizophrenic. Vocals are often a foreign concept to me as well, with most of my playlist being filled with screams, gibbering, or the sound of electronics being tortured. But variety is the spice of life, my dear punks! BEKIMACHINE delivered a solid indie album of well mixed, written, and sung tunes with nary a scream to be had.
Starting with her latest full album, Saga is 5 tracks long with no song going over 5 minutes. The whole thing is a quick listen, but it does not have in length it delivers in quality. There is no long droning noise or harsh sounds. A song never went longer than it needed to with nothing that felt like filler. And nothing felt, for lack of a better word, cute? Pop is often seen as the softer side of music and taken less seriously, but this is far from soft. Soothing, sure, but deserving of praise.
We kick off with the short track “The Sea of Changes” (my second favorite track), which is a nice melodic intro to the rest of the album having a build-up to echoing vocals and some fine layering. Next up is my most favorite track, “Oblivion”, which is the poppiest track of the bunch, with some oddly dark lyrics for such a catchy tune.
“In the zone it might wisp away the dim lights
Wander right into the oblivion
Stone cold, stiff face
Want it now? I’m on the case
Fallen down into the oblivion”
I find the music composition simple in this one, starting with a simple tune of a UFO looping through your brain to pick up immediately with the rhythmic vocals. I don’t know what form of mind-control she has laced through the beat, but I found this song stuck in my head as I ventured to the grocery store decked out in an anti-virus mask and gloves. I couldn’t have asked for a better song to follow me around for the end of the world.
“Super Machine” and “Flux” are my least favorite tracks, and not because of the composition but the repetitive lyrics in both undermine her amazing voice, I feel. I know that, in pop music, repetitive lyrics are common, but I feel they hurt the obvious talent the artist displays in her other tracks. Some tracks often felt they were telling a story and that was absent for those two.
Thankfully we end on a high note with the most cybork of tracks, “Ionheart”. Easily something that could be a backdrop to Battle Angel Alita, the track starts with a slow vocal/piano that builds up by soaking up some bleak vocals. From there the popsynth kicks off into the familiar strong vocals and beats that have gotten branded into my grey matter.
“Cut your skin for the feeling
Tear the flesh that’s concealing your ionheart
It’s too late to fall apart”
In April, BEKIMACHINE hit us with a single track EP that shows some serious progression in form. A soft ramp-up builds into a solid dance beat that goes waves to let the vocals pick it up again. If the strongest part of the previous album were the vocals, this single improves on the electronic bits greatly. The only thing I hate is there is only one track, because I love seeing an artist progress like this.
Bekimachine also does some occasional live content on her Youtube Channel, so be sure to check it out if you dig her two albums.
A little off topic, but has anyone else listened to much vaporwave? The genre and cyberpunk really do go hand-in-hand, in my opinion. It’s less pop and more chopped and screwed 80s/90s songs. Maybe the consummate vaporwave artist is Macintosh Plus and their album Floral Shoppe.
There’s some debate about just what the genre is trying to say, centered mainly around whether it embraces accelerationism (the idea that capitalism should be accelerated to generate radical social change) or uses irony as a method of critique of consumer culture. I think that exploring vaporwave as a style would be a perfect segue into a broader philosophy, and not just an exploration of a sound and aesthetic as it relates to cyberpunk. Though there are merits to both kinds of exploration.
ahh yes. darksynth and synthwave are nice too
well done article and some good music I hadn’t heard of
If you want real cyberpunk music listen to Digital Beat.