SOMAFREE INSTITUTE is a drum/synth trio out of Seattle, Washington that lock into dark, heady sci-fi grooves, taking the listener on a deep space journey that is part dystopian soundtrack and part electro-prog freakout. The band, which consists of Andrew Crawshaw(Synthesizers & Programming), Justin Thomas Kleine(Synthesizers), and Tim Call(Drums), creates a dizzying sonic dread that brings to mind bands like Zombi, Pinkish Black, and Moving Pictures-era Rush, but with a lean in on the hazy space drift.
Vertical Helix Scan(2020) is a re-imagining, re-recording, and remastering of the band’s debut EP from 2018. Delivering a tighter and more evocative set, as well as a new track, SOMAFREE INSTITUTE set course for deep space dread and sci-fi soundtracks. Heady synths engaged.
This is the kind of record for dropping into and taking the ride to wherever it takes you. Crawshaw, Kleine, and Call lock in like guys who have been playing together for years. I love a deep space synth drift as much as the next cosmic traveler, but when you add real drums to that you go to a whole other level. SOMAFREE INSTITUTE go deep here.
“Sundowner Syndrome” opens the album with an almost melancholy vibe. We’ve boarded the ship for the mission, yet we don’t know if we’ll make it through alive. This is where the journey begins. “Outer Realm” opens like a widescreen view of outer space. Like standing on a space walk and staring out into the blackness of space, seeing what could be fortune or ultimate doom. The synths approach an almost Gothic tone here, bleak and monolithic. “Remote Viewing” puts me in mind of classic Zombi, part futuristic prog rock and part fever dream.
If your bread and butter is deep space synth drifts look no further than the excellent “Command Signal”. Our Pacific Northwest power trio lock firmly in for what sounds like communication from the far reaches of the galaxy.
New track “Orbital Resonance” has an urgency to it, working into both synth pop touches as well as a kinetic electro doom vibe. Here is where the power trio shines through completely. “Hysteresis” closes the EP, taking us out as if Sinoia Caves and Rush somehow morphed into one masterful band.
Vertical Helix Scan(2020) has completed its mission. Minds are blown, but intact.
7.9 out of 10
SOMAFREE INSTITUTE’S Vertical Helix Scan(2020) is out now. Buy it here.