A little about Mr. Cocktail:
Located in Trieste, northern Italy, Cosmo Cocktail (aka Luca Brumat) has been producing synthwave/retrowave music since 2014. He's actively involved in the synthwave communities on various social media platforms, notably Facebook (if you are in any of the FB synth groups, you'll know this already). In particular, you should check out the "Synthwave Vinyl Collectors" Facebook group which he started in 2015 which now has a very large membership.
Let's explore the "Aurora" album:
"Aurora" was released digitally on October 17th, 2017 on the Werkstatt Recordings label, with a vinyl release on TimeSlaves Recordings droppng the next year in 2018. The album contains 10 tracks of solid synthwave/retrowave sounds lovingly crafted by Mr. Cocktail using hardware instruments only. Mastering by Martyn Stonehouse. As per the album description, it is a concept work dedicated to the conquest of space and all the brave astronauts and pioneers involved. This can be heard in each and every song on the album. The atmosphere, samples, and recordings all evoke thoughts of spaceflight, orbital stations, trips through hyperspace, and the history of the space race.
Let's rocket through the ten tracks on this incredible album:
"Pioneers of the Universe" - Gently introducing the listener to the album, this short intro starts with some ambient synths with sampled voices from mission control on the Apollo 11 launch.
“Aurora” - Sliding smoothly in from the prior track, this continues the ambient synth sounds and kicks the listener into a driving beat and beautiful climactic melody. Cosmo's phrasing is excellent, and it shows in the breaks and drops throughout the song. Throw in some melodic female chanting in the latter half, and you have a recipe for perfect ambient soundtrack material.
“Sputnik” - Most will know this refers to the very first satellite to orbit the earth. Continuing with the signature synth sounds of the album, this song picks up the pace and truly reflects the impending space race the title satellite was responsible for.
“Unfamiliar Skies (feat. Ideon)” - The only vocal track on the album, Ideon's voice blends perfectly with Cosmo's synths. The combination of the two reminds me so much of '80s bands like "Visage". The song has a purposeful beat and melody, with the vocals peaking with echo and energy.
“The Skylab Odyssey” - Referencing the first US space station, this tune starts slow with an impending build, then drops into a great pace with the synths complementing the intense beats. The melody in this is almost desperate, putting the listener on edge as if something intense and important are happening.
“Interlude Men of the Stars” - Like the first track on the album, this is a short atmospheric break to provide the listener with a "reset" before jumping into the second half. Slower, with no percussion, it allows the listener to drift a bit on the solar winds before we slide into the next piece.
“Last Call” - Starting with a sampled voice from the shuttle Discovery launch, this tune brings us back to the almost desperate and high stakes feel of the space race. Truly spacey, it represents best what the album tries to accomplish; a cosmic race to conquer space.
“Gagarin! Don't Look Back” - Hands down my favourite song on the album. I've had this in my playlist for ages. Most will know that it references Yuri Gagarin, the first human to journey into outer space. The synth instruments in this compliment each other so well, with a driving beat and a melody that seems foreboding yet climactic.
“Across Orion Nebula” - Slightly more upbeat, we find ourselves travelling faster through space with a pace and melody that I can imagine being used in a soundtrack for hyperspace travel. This song does away with the prior "desperation" of the space race in the previous songs, and allows us to imagine ourselves unfettered and travelling beyond our petty earth-based issues into a grand unknown.
“We'll Never Come Back” - The final song on the album, as well as the longest, this allows the listener to imagine themselves far into the unknown, past our home solar systems and galaxies. There's no percussion here, just beautiful synthetic sounds that make one feel like we have escaped our troubles and can now drift through the expanse of space (or our mind).
Many artists will try and structure their album so that it tells a story. The ordering and "feel" of the tracks being very important to the overall message being conveyed. "Aurora" is a perfect example of this. Listening to the album, you are part of a story that starts with the first steps of man into space, the desperation, the risk, the successes and failures, ending with a triumphant escape from the shackles of earth into the far distant reaches of the universe. Cosmo Cocktail is a skilled musician, and he does the subject matter justice in this release. While it may have been released in late 2017, this album is a stellar (no pun intended) addition to any synthwave addict's collection.
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