Lars Meijer’s Hunter Complex is a one man music project that locks into a very specific time in synth-based electronic music. He centers on the late 70s and early 80s, a time where heavy hitters like Froese, Roedelius, and Hammer were taking their heady electronic trips and honing them into tighter, more pop-based sounds. In-particular, Tangerine Dream and Jan Hammer made serious names for themselves in the 80s by scoring pop culture darlings like Risky Business and Miami Vice, among others. They didn’t dull their sounds or quash musical creativity in doing so, either. They merely conformed to the times and worked within the creative parameters given to them with each project. The results are music that is both timeless and very much of their time.
Hunter Complex, while pulling inspiration from those films and the music that accompanied them, is a sound very much all its own. Meijer debuted Hunter Complex in 2010 with a self-titled album. It was a mix of early 80s alternative electronic like Depeche Mode and OMD and saw Meijer mixing beautifully both the warmth of analog and the cool twitch of digital synthesizers. In 2013 Hunter Complex released follow-up Heat, a masterpiece in dark pop and synth-heavy dance music. This album really saw Meijer honing in on his sound, a mixture of pop structure and moody synth-based atmospherics. Heat solidified Hunter Complex as one of the best electronic composers working today.
Lars Meijer and Hunter Complex have returned with the exquisite and dreamy Open Sea, a ten song LP that explores both pop-oriented and heady sound landscapes. The Death Waltz Originals release sees Meijer at the very top of his game. Open Sea is a shimmering oasis of 80s-inspired rhythms and crystalline synthesizers that act as a soundtrack to some non-existent place in 80s history. It’s gorgeous, mysterious, and captures your attention from the moment you hit play.
An album that pulls you from your current spot in the world and drops you in some other place and time is the kind of album I can get into. Open Sea does that from the start. It comes across as some early 80s Michael Mann soundtrack that exists in some alternate universe. Part Miami Vice, part The Keep, and just a hint of Thief rolled into this windswept record. Album opener “Night City” bristles with neon flash and synth bursts. There’s a hopefulness in the melodies that keep you locked in from start to finish. Then the more ominous “The Heart of High Places” pulsates like Jan Hammer in an introspective mood. Meijer masterfully builds the song into an almost meticulous dread towards the end. “We Fought For America” has the feel of some Cannon film from the mid-80s. Vets going back to get the buddy they left behind. This song takes me back to an 80s youth, watching Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger saving the day.
This is the best kind of nostalgia, as it takes you back to a time and place, but not an event. Your imagination allows you to fill in the blanks as you see fit. Hunter Complex is a love letter to moods, inspirations, and music that not only sountracked movies and shows, but our lives growing up in the neon age.
Elsewhere, “A Float For A Marker” has elements of 80s pop radio but with slightly sharper edges and deeper shades. “Original Vision” sounds like old school Windham Hill records. Vast in its scope and overwhelming beauty for most of it’s run time, it takes a darker turn towards the end into dark wave territory. “Account of the Moon” ends Open Sea open and bristling with light. Meijer keeps things interesting throughout, and with just a hint of dread just below the surface.
Open Sea is a fascinating and exquisite record from start to finish. Hunter Complex continues to improve upon what came before, showing Lars Meijer’s knack for writing the kind of music that pulls you in immediately. There’s a familiarity to what he writes, but also an alien quality. You feel as if you know his music, but you can’t quite place why. You lock in with Open Sea, and never want to leave the world it creates.
8.2 out of 10
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