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Awkward Silence – The Master System EP – Debut Shows Promise

The Master System by Awkward Silence is in some sense a debut EP. This musical project by actor James Harris released a sample heavy 90’s rave inspired romp in May, but this is his first release in this genre. The 90’s sample heavy style seems to peek its way




The Master System
by Awkward Silence is in some sense a debut EP. This musical project by actor
James Harris released a sample heavy 90’s rave inspired romp in May, but this
is his first release in this genre. The 90’s sample heavy style seems to peek
its way through more often than not throughout the English actor’s EP.

“Intro” (you get one guess which track number that is) is
the first song of the EP to demonstrate this 90’s electronic aesthetic that
peaks its head. The ominous and atmospheric pads of the track are soon
accompanied by a very acidy 303 arp. This mixture of sounds is actually pretty
interesting and leads to the EPs first of many audio samples.
To listeners more familiar with the meticulously programmed
precision of modern electronic tracks, this EP overall may feel sloppy. This is
due to the sample heavy nature of it. “Don’t Stop the Montage” is noticeably
sample heavy, and it works for some parts of the songs. The sound bites
included in this track show both the good and bad of The Master System. When they work, they have a campiness that
succeeds in creating atmosphere. When it doesn’t work, it is invasive and really detracts from the whole.
“Citizens On Patrol” has my favorite sounds of the release.
The persistent waves of bass synth carry the track. A similar arp to “Intro”
joins the bass and it really makes a fresh and original moment. “Fade Into the
Background” loses a little steam from being a little obtuse in terms of rhythm.
That being said, the lead synth of it is pretty sounding and it has a pretty
successful use of a sound clip.
The penultimate track is a strong one. The melodies are all
pretty intricate but also very accessible and constantly bounce off each other
and harmonize. The female vocal sampling in “Midnight Identity Crisis” is best
of EP and makes me really wish this track had an actual vocal track. “The Final
Escape” (again, guess the track listing) is interesting. A lot of the music we
cover here is excellent as background music or for active listening. “The Final
Escape” doesn’t work very well as background music. It just moves from one idea
to another too quickly. It is, however, an excellent track to actively listen
to and appreciate the pieces of the whole.

The biggest things holding this EP back is the over-reliance
of sound bites and the uneven production quality. The tracks that work here
work really well. This is mainly due to the far-reaching influences Awkward
Silence pulls from. Your interest in this release will ultimately come from
your own views of this musician/fan community. What is this community to you?
This is a serious question, and one I hope to address in a future post. I think
we all define it differently and come to new releases and new artists
differently as a result. First releases in a genre are rarely great, but this
scene is so DIY intensive and communally supportive. We listen. We create. We
share. This EP may have rookie flaws, but it has glimmers of originality that
make me interested in follow up releases.

– Joey Edsall

joey.edsall@newretrowave.com

Review overview

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