SD6 is the latest band to sign with 23DB Records, the label run by Assemblage 23's Tom Shear, so it's not entirely shocking that this trio shares Assemblage 23's penchant for techno beats, darkly melodic synth lines, and catchy vocal hooks. The Oregon trio brings a modern aesthetic to synthpop, with driving trance leads vying for attention over moody string pad arrangements and the soulful vocals of band founder Brandon Jerwa. Adding to the mix is Jessica Blackshear, whose backing vocals on such songs as "Twilight" and "Timestream" give things a much richer, more human feel than most synthpop acts can manage; she also takes over as lead singer on "Untruth," which features a hint of industrial clanking in the rhythm section and is sure to appeal to fans of The Azoic. And if Jerwa's vocal style gets a little overwrought on "Nothing Now," what of it? Synthpop has a long history of melodrama, and he puts it to good use here, emphasizing emotion over the bass groove. While it's the vocals that give SD6's music its humanity, it's the programming and arrangements that best highlight the group's talent. Opening track "Fallen" starts things off on a high note with deep synths that build gradually into a hard-hitting breakbeat--pure club fodder--while "Everywhere" combines a hypnotically thumping house rhythm with contemplative pianos. "Free" closes out the album with a good combination of both hard and soft, starting off with an EBM-inspired mix of thumps and clanks before drenching everything in somber minor-key electronics. Good stuff, and if you like Assemblage 23 and fellow 23DB Records alumni Backandtotheleft, this ought to appeal as well.
Hear samples from this album at www.sd6online.com.
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