Radiation City: Synesthetica
Radiation City — Synesthetica
Release Date: Feb. 12
Our Rating: 4.8/5
Spec Recs: “Come and Go,” “Futures”
In one word: Polychromatic
To be able to evoke a musical past while still applying elements of modern harmonies and soundscapes is not an easy thing to do, but in Radiation City’s newest album, Synesthetica, they accomplish just that in a most pleasing way.
Through synth keys and washy guitars, we are taken on a journey through a dimly lit series of rooms, and in each room there’s a different colored light that pulses to the beat of the music. It is then realized that we’ve transcended mere sound and have been taken into the world of Synesthetica.
This album is aptly named, as it combines the process of synesthesia with what could be the name of an ’80’s synth band. Synesthesia is a phenomenon in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, such as hearing sound and as a result one experiences the visualization of color. Radiation City’s Lizzy Ellison, half of the founding couple of the band, experiences this exact type of synesthesia. Though it’s not something all people experience, myself included, there’s a very real sense of color to this album, and each song certainly has its own hue. Whether that be Ellison’s own visions showing themselves in the music she creates, or just that the music happens to carry multiple sensations on its own accord, you can certainly expect to be bombarded by artistic beauty with the listen of this album.
In the midst of this sonic synthesizer land, suddenly we hear a stark melody that comes only from guitar and mellowed out keyboard. This swiftly turns into a tango type piece where Ellison’s ethereal voice sweeps over us like a well-timed breeze of air. It then transforms itself into an entirely different musical idea and suddenly we hear the vocals from Cameron Spies, the second half of the leading couple. The rest of the piece acts as a conversation between the two, each with their own musical motif to accompany their personalities, until they meet together at the end. Both sing over the same tango progression and we end as we began, this time with a non-electrified keyboard leading us farther away with some guitar strums and siren-esque sounds.
We are then led full force into the song “Futures,” where the lyric matter seems to harken back to a time where today would in fact be the mentioned future. The smooth and dreamy vocals of Ellison coupled with Patti King’s provide the perfect vessel to sail upon the electronic river beneath them. In this song, flashing lights of all different types of colors are seen in my own mind.
Overall, this album is one that brings life and all mediums of sensation to the table. It’s certainly a departure from past Radiation City albums, but this is a direction they are quite capable of exploring. Though I have thoroughly enjoyed this album, I also can’t wait to see what other surprises this band has in store.