Michael Figucio’s musical project Vi Res dabbles in the darker, colder realms of heavy synth music. When I listen to something like Lost Score or Silent Collective I get the feeling of watching some deeply abused VHS tape I rented for a Friday night viewing. Seedy scenes of city streets and midnight clubs, black leather and neon lights. Those first few releases captured the feel of those single synth scores that ingrained themselves into my brain as an 80s kid watching things far beyond my maturity level. Stuff like Maniac, Ms. 45, The Keep, and Escape From New York made as much an impact on me with their scores as they did with their B-movie exploitation and neo-futuristic shock. Figucio locked into those vibes and brought them back with his releases.
Since 2016, Vi Res has dropped a couple collections of music, as well as several singles(and were featured on the excellent SNDTRK compilation.) Vi Res just released a new album called Cold Century, and Figucio’s knack for mood building continues with this excellent new release.
There is as palpable mood shift when you first hit play on Cold Century. The darkness usually associated with a Vi Res release is decidedly lit with neo-futuristic tones as “Intro To Cold Century” opens the album. The bubbly, analog moods are more reminiscent of Vangelis and Jean Michel-Jarre than Slasher Film Festival Strategy and John Carpenter. It hits you in the face like a chilly ocean breeze. Title track “Cold Century” continues the Blade Runner vibes to stunning effect. Figucio has set out to create something bolder in scope here and these two opening tracks are proof of that. “Love Theme(From Cold Century)” wavers and pulsates like the best love themes do.
Despite the grander scope and neo-futuristic themes there is still a low key vibe here. The main synths used are the Yamaha CS-80, Juno 60, and the DX-7, which if you know much about classic synths are kind of the holy grails of classic early 80s sounds. Figucio’s deft touch proves immeasurable in world building with these masterful machines.
But all is not steeped in cold light and phosphorescent glow on Cold Century. “Sub Zero” emanates with sickly waves of dread in the best ways possible, while “Intermission Music” sounds like what would’ve happened if Devo had gotten into scoring science fiction films in the early 80s. Ghostly synth wavers like a theremin over a synthetic motorik beat. There are also two tracks included here that were recent single releases. “Staple” and “Pulse” are both epic tracks that capture desolation perfectly within their dark corridors. “Pulse” toils and turns with droning perfection while “Staple” ends the record on a melancholy note, revisiting those Jarre vibes as we’re sent off into the cold, dark night to fend for ourselves.
Cold Century is the best Vi Res album yet. It feels to be the strongest narrative-wise and concept-wise, as well as being emotionally engaging. It instantly grabs you and doesn’t let go until the journey ends. Darkness and light engage with each other here, giving us more of a dawn or dusk kind of record. It’s either a beautiful beginning or ending. Either way, it’s beautiful nonetheless.
8. 2 out of 10
Grab a copy here, both digitally or on limited edition cassette.