Back to reality. After a weird summer of great significance for many personal reasons, September comes to remind us of the life we choose to lead and the priorities we need to set in order to remain sane. Since new music always plays an important role carrying us though challenging changes, today we’ll be spending time on Voyager’s latest LP titled Lost Files. The Barcelona-based Voyager is exhibiting material he managed to save after losing most of his work, experimenting with beats, synths and samples. Without further ado…
‘FLASHBACK.2088’ instantly beams up the listener straight into a cyberpunk-ish future with its harsh electronica given over an intense kick, the only element that offers a sense of order in this chaotic, abstract mix. And soon enough, ‘Intro’ makes for a sequel to its predecessor, successfully fulfilling the potential of the -almost- uncomfortable opener. Here we get clear, specific melodies repeating themselves for a more ‘pop’ result, easier for the ears to grab and digest. At this point I’m thinking what an interesting concept it is, giving an intro to ‘Intro’. The violin of ‘Return’ is immediately recognizable as the classic, universal piece that it is, followed by a minimal beat that feels unfitting here but fades seamlessly into ‘By no means’. Here we get an abundance of claps and snaps setting the pace over the soundscapes that we’re already used to by now. The outcome is numb, the melodies -kind of- overused and the use of percussion a bit generic, something that does not apply to the following ‘Dusk’.
‘Dusk’ comes as a line that defines a new chapter in the album. The addition of synths offers a great deal to the style and personally gave me the same feeling I experienced when I was introduced to Sophie’s music many years ago. Voyager changes the game, goes for the unexpected and we’re here for it. The gleaming, elaborate keys and samples make ‘Dusk’ sound rich and well-thought out, an experimental gem that sets itself apart from everything that came before it. Now, ‘Dim lights’ sounds too simplistic to justify its length and acts more as an interlude that leads to the superb ‘Crush’ that keeps the listener on their toes with its transforming character and variety of sounds. From the echoing vocals to the breakbeat percussion, everything is a mismatch that somehow matches perfectly. ‘Crush’ has a lo-fi flavor, a subterranean tension that feels relaxing and comforting, without losing its sense of wonder. ‘String of thoughts’ is most ethereal while also flat and complex at the same time. Even though its first moments were truly mysterious and promising, its progression felt too playful to satisfy my expectations.
On the contrary, ‘Taken by the hand’ manages to maintain its notion throughout the track with its qualities climaxing towards the end, keeping the listener hooked, making me wonder how can such magic fit into two minutes only. An intriguing cloak-and-dagger track that stands out for its well-built atmosphere and captivating progression. If ‘Taken by the hand’ was a vintage film, I’d expect a jaw-dropping twist for a finale. Bravo! A special place is reserved for ‘Wordless ballad’, one that sounds unsettling and unstructured, like a lab test that leads to no result whatsoever. Still it seems to own its space in this body of work and maybe even represent the title ‘Lost Files’ more than anything else up to this point. Receiving it as only a link in the greater concept of the album might offer a new dynamic to the track.
Groovy and sassy comes ‘Out of the House’ with a club aroma to it, a lounge vibe that blows a cool wind of change for the first time since ‘Dusk’. But only until ‘HAZE’ arrives as a weird and unsure interlude to nullify the high-spirited emotion and re-establish it through the following ‘No Keys’. The synths here reminded me of the Hairless Toys album by Roisin Murphy for some reason. A variety of minimal, addictive melodies and alternating materials get beautifully tangled together to create something substantial that sounds structured and -in a way- more complete. Then we have the obsessive ‘Dawn’ with its piercing, monotonic rhythm getting smoother by the minute, transforming undetected before it gives its place to ‘Green Fields’.
This one is a ‘feel good’, cozy jam to uplift the spirit and become the best background music for someone creating art or maybe digital content. The vintage keys and video-game approach will definitely hit home to gamers in their 30’s and 40’s. ‘Green Fields’ goes among the highlights of Lost Files for sure. ‘THANK YOU!’ follows the same recipe, borrowing the style and mood of its previous but only for a short time, enough to offer a closure to this ode to video games. The album waves goodbye with ‘in awe’, a lullaby for the digital world, capable of putting any pixelated character to sleep after a long day of jumping, slashing and exploring fantastical worlds. Even though ‘in awe’ sounds simplistic and effortless, its pace and notes chosen provides the listener with a deep sense of warmth and comfort. Maybe the most emotional ending an LP of this kind could get.
‘Lost Files’ left me with mixed feelings and an anticipation for what is coming next. Let me elaborate. Due to the album’s nature -coming as restored fragments from an artist’s stolen labor- it has its ups and downs. Like watching the unstable lines of a patient’s monitor screen. In here we can find pieces that sound too complete and soulful to co-exists with others that have not as much information to communicate. Personally I found this ratio around 50/50 with the story behind the creation justifying this result. On the other hand, the same story ultimately elevates the dynamic of the album and makes it a remarkable part of Voyager’s life and discography in my opinion. Making a piece of art out of an unfortunate event is not only brave but also powerful enough to create momentum for the release. And for this reason, the Sanctum will be very much looking forward to what is coming next by the restless Voyager. Cheers!
Listen to Lost Files here: