Release Date: Sep 30, 2016
Record label: Relapse Records
Genre(s): Electronic, Ambient, Experimental Electro, Neo-Electro, Darkwave
You probably already know what you are dealing with here, as it is highly likely that most people who find their way to S U R V I V E’s debut LP, RR7349, will have done so through the excruciatingly awesome Netflix show Stranger Things. I believe I speak for all right-thinking children of the 1980s when I say that my pleasure in watching Stranger Things was painfully acute; almost erotic in its intensity. If you have spent countless hours, as I have, wandering through the haunted side streets and cursed houses of towns like Castle Rock or Derry, Maine (via the work of Stephen King), watching Stranger Things will feel like coming home.
RR7349 is the second proper album from Austin synth wizards S U R V I V E, not counting several limited tapes and vinyl EPs. Chances are, it's the first album most people will hear from the group, as it's the first release from the quartet since two of its members (Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein) composed the score for the wildly successful Netflix sci-fi/horror series Stranger Things, which premiered the same month the album's release was announced. It arrives on Relapse Records, a long-running metal label which has always been supportive of noise, experimental music, and dark electronic music.
The timing couldn't be better for S U R V I V E's RR7349. Not only did the Austin synth unit land a deal with the esteemed Relapse label for the release, but they were thrown into full-on Stranger Things fervour thanks to the stellar soundtrack contributions from the group's Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein. But while the success of the Netflix series will no doubt leave many wanting RR7349 to be another journey into the Upside Down, S U R V I V E have instead presented a purposely different sort of trip.
It’s about time Survive turned some heads. The Austin synth outfit has been issuing vintage compositions for over half a decade, rearing its glossy head at can’t miss events like Moogfest, Levitation, and Decibel. In 2014, they drew some acclaim when director Adam Wingard used a couple of their tracks for his throwback action thriller The Guest, but when that film was cruelly ignored, it was back to the waiting room for the outfit.
Oh yeah you Stranger Things fanatics, if you're finding it hard to let go of that special summertime escapism and have already completed your second cycle through the sensation, here's something to hold you over a little until season two. After being discovered fortuitously by the show's creators, the Duffer Brothers, and handed the job of the story's sonic enchantment, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein rejoin the other half of the Austin based synth quartet for their second full length, RR7349. It's a well-timed release capitalizing on momentum.
Overnight success is rarely that, but in the case of experimental synth group S U R V I V E, you’d be forgiven for assuming that they arrived fully-formed this past summer. Two of their members collaborated on the Stranger Things OST, Vol. One and Two, the soundtrack to Netflix’s zeitgeist-consuming sci-fi TV series. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s uncanny ear for ’80s synthesizers—not to mention their proclivity for building their own from scratch—was absolutely perfect for scoring a supernatural thriller set in the Reagan Era.
Since the band first appeared in 2010, S U R V I V E have carried an air of '80s nostalgia that was usually more about the sound of their instruments than their songwriting. Yet it's turned out to be their defining characteristic. Sections of the Austin quartet's impressive discography sound closer to early Oneohtrix Point Never or Zombi's Steve Moore than, say, John Carpenter.
Half of local foursome Survive fresh off soundtracking the phenomenon that's become Stranger Things, the electro-wave group's sophomore full-length commences more melodious than the hit sci-fi series' score. After 20 seconds of what sounds like an asteroid plunging toward Earth, earworm opener "A.H.B." thumps a rhythmic pulse that grounds the quartet's layers of analog synthesizer. "Other" then crashes on arrival, its tom-tom backbeat recalling Jason Voorhees' sinister "ki-ki-ki" sound effect.
2016 couldn’t have played out any better for Survive. Mere months before the release of the Austin electronic band’s most ambitious project yet, two of its members scored the surprise hit Netflix series Stranger Things. The music soon became the most universally acclaimed part of an already enormously popular show, and presto: where Survive once had a moderate amount of devoted synthwave junkies, they suddenly had thousands of fans from all over the musical spectrum.
If you haven’t seen Stranger Things, you’re seriously missing a trick. It is, without a doubt, the most electrifying show on Netflix at present, hands down. With references to The Goonies and J. J. Abrams’ Super 8, the sci-fi narrative is nostalgic whilst futuristic, with aliens, parallel ….
One way to think of S U R V I V E's third album is as a synth museum come to life, dozens of machines burbling away in self-automated harmony. Instantly familiar vintage tech sounds happen alongside familiar modern ones, all of which are further mediated by modern gear that perfectly emulates vintage instruments and vintage gear that does the same for analog instruments. Any of the idiosyncrasies or personality quirks of the four dudes pushing all the buttons are submerged beneath spacious, sumptuous arrangements that foreground the distinctive timbres of the instruments themselves, almost to a fault.