The world of modular synths is a pretty vast and amazing one. You see this wall of circuits, knobs, and wires towering as the multi-colored wires dangle down into a board. Lights buzz and blink as if this machine is retrieving messages from the Great Beyond. Perhaps alien life are sending an S.O.S. from a far off galaxy, or stranded cosmonauts are stuck in a time loop somewhere in 1959 and this machine is sending us their last will and testament. Maybe it’s not that deep, but the sounds these machines create are otherworldly and utterly beautiful(when used correctly.) Names like Moog, Buchla, ARP, and Roland laid the groundwork for the machines that would change the face of electronic music forever. The ghostly waves of sound they created turned scientists into composers, and composers into scientists. The circuitry and formulas used to build these machines were fairly hands-on and cut and dry, but when you found someone that could truly communicate with something like a modular synth? Well that was something special. To take this scientifically sound machine and tap into the universe and compose from another existential plane wasn’t and isn’t an easy task. Names like Subotnick, Ciani, Oliveros, and even a more current artist like Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith broke thru on these machines and turned these bleeps and blips into a new musical language.
Modular synth artist Isvisible/Isinvisible can be added to this list. The self-titled album is nearly 90 minutes of heady, beautiful Krautrock and Komische heaven. A double album, mixed with elements of Klaus Schulze at his densest and some early 70s prog tendencies.
Isvisible/Isinvisible, what is this exactly? Is it just one guy building worlds one patch at a time? Or is this the work of an army of AI beings playing us the sound of creation? Or is this just a one-off concept album of sorts? The answer could be one or all of these theories. The point of an album like this isn’t to get hung up on the little details. The point is to just get lost in the world that’s been erected here and to lose yourself in it. According to Burning Witches Records, this is what the album is:
Modular synthesis recorded live with no overdubs. Reflecting 2 sides of the same persona. Invisible brings you Krautrock influences, whilst Isinvisible ushers in the ambient soundscapes. With close to 90mins of music split into 2 albums (one per cassette side).
Yep, this album is being released on cassette, with each side being one half of the story. This is some seriously heady synth psych. Acid-burnt electronic with a healthy dose of sci fi vibes to keep both sides of your brain cooking while listening. This is the kind of album you’d play in the basement with a distinct haze in the air. Plopped into a beanbag chair with colored lights on, you’d take flight. Isvisible/Isinvisible is your flight plan to parts unknown.
“Cosmiel’s Return” opens side A, or Isvisible, with a slow motion motorik beat and a wall of synths. There’s a strangely upbeat vibe to it, as if you were watching the sunrise on the last day of existence. “Broken Ankles” sounds like Def Con 4 on some distant space station. It’s like Pink Floyd’s “On The Run” somehow cut and chopped by Aphex Twin, or AI performing Hendrix’ “Third Stone From The Sun”. “Whirl and Magnet” brings to mind Sinoia Caves, in-particular the excellent The Enchanter Persuaded. Side A keeps things moving along quickly, with frantic tracks like the cosmic anxiety of “Souvenir Book of Matches” and the electro doom of “The Rec Sacrifice”.
Side B, or Isinvisible, brings on the prog.
“Behind The Studded Oak Door” is nearly 15 minutes of heady contemplation and moody beauty while “Flight of The Raven” brings more of that Sinoia Caves vibe. A bit of Beyond The Black Rainbow and a bit of Brian Gascoigne’s Phase IV S/T. “Along The Towpath” is an exquisite drone track with bits of Gothic dread thrown in for good measure while “Music of The Spheres” closes the album with some serious deep space vibes. “Music of The Spheres” melts into the ether as your psyche does the same.
Invisible/Isinvisible is some seriously heady and heavy synth. This is old school modular synth madness that captures the heyday of early to mid-70s Krautrock and Berlin School vibes. It harkens back to the days of album side tracks and big idea conversations over a couple pints, some fresh herbs, and an open night sky.
Isvisible/Isinvisible will be released on February 23rd on cassette and digitally via Burning Witches Records.
8.5 out of 10