Ideality by Opus Science Collective (OSC for short) is a delightful romp into the funkier side of synthwave. It's a perfect example of what a synthwave album should be sounding like at the end of 2019. There are so many great things going on with this album. Here are just a few that I'd like to share.
First and foremost, Ideality is an album that doesn’t waste your time. You are going to know in roughly immediately whether this album is for you. If you are not completely blown away by the first thirty seconds of Ideality’s jazzy introduction you can simply put this album back on the shelf because it’s not going to be for you. It’s as simple as that.
With Ideality, OSC pretty much ignores many conventional synthwave sounds used by most retrowave producers. That being said, there are a few artists with a similar aesthetic that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention them. Artists such as Sunglasses Kid, Duett, and even Droid Bishop have explored this funky jazzy style that OSC delivers with Ideality. If you are a fan of any of these artists, you are going to love this album.
As far as music theory goes, there is certainly a lot to unpack here. Ideality is a complex album that pushes the genre in new and fun places. The album is filled with funk heavy riffs that blend perfectly with a wide assortment of auxiliary percussion including claps, claves, congas, bongos, triangles, finger snaps, and shakers. All of this is mixed down with various methods of modern production such as channel pans, and color shifts which lay the perfect foundation for the warm melodies that float across the surface.
There are a few notable songs you are going to want to check out. One of them is one the opening tracks entitled “Hopscotch.” “Hopscotch” is a headfirst dive into funk-laden retrowave. The track features funky flutes. solid grooves, and one hell of a refrain. All of this is held down by some really well done sound production. The talented singer and multi-instrumentalist Sir J also provides a large contribution to the song with his layered vocals, and vocoder effects.
“Wanting You” is a breezy follow-up to the one-two punch opener. It’s a nice mid-tempo bop that rides along really nice and honestly, the world of synthwave really needs more slap bass in it. It’s fun and jazzy with a few vocalizer highlights on the otherwise vocal-free album.
Another highlight for me is “It Starts With a Chip.” It’s a fun tune that somehow manages to get the sounds of jazz and video games to play around in the same universe. The warm organ solo mixes perfectly with the digital vocals samples and crunchy 8-bit percussion. Each sound is allowed to phase in and out, giving each a turn in the spotlight. It’s unique but most importantly, it’s a whole lot of fun to listen to.
“Overlit (Part 1)” starts with a simple classical piano that explodes into so much more. It proceeds to lay a progressive jazz vibe complete with flutes, slap bass, grunts, and accented finger snaps. All of this lays the foundation for a nice top-line melody. This track passes off well to the next track “Underlit” which delivers more of the same. It’s all so seamless. It’s all so wonderful.
Finally, as if the power of funky nostalgia it’s enough to handle, “Nine Years” reaches in and goes for all the feels. With “Nine Years,” OSC breaks one of his rules and digs into his own personal life. With the opening samples of his son as a toddler, the warm synth tones amplify the journey of a father looking back around the time of his son's ninth birthday. It's warm and powerful, and everything synthwave should be about.
There are certainly more gems to be found on this album but why would I want to spoil it all for you. Do something good for your soul and be the first in line when Ideality drops this Friday.
To find out more about OSC, check out the links below: