Album Review: Primeval | Sandor Gavin
Lately the Sanctum has offered lots of space to the revival of the 80’s in the contemporary music scene and since it seems to never be enough, let’s talk about the latest album ‘Primeval’ by singer/songwriter Sandor Gavin. This review is most likely our least dark entry of the genre yet but one with many reasons to write about. Let’s grab the headphones and get down to business!
Call of the Wild (A Fresh Kill) opens the show with a -Daft Punk style- beat and just like the 2000’s hit ‘One More Time’ and its -forward thinking- music video, I can only visualize an animated world starring a blood-thirsty, female werewolf. ‘The hunt begins in the pale moonlight, I hear your heart beat with fright’. A perfect old-school horror story channeling the rawness of young love. The sound is effortlessly overflowing with this retro power answering Gavin’s question ‘Is this natural, to feel so powerful?’. Well, Sandor seems to ‘wear’ this power as a second skin.
And just like 90% of the music of this genre, ‘Hooked On You’ is THAT Love/Infatuation song, celebrating the hyperbole of losing your mind over love, seeing stars and dreaming of staying like this forever. An almost disco anthem made to bring out the teenager that lives inside and make us dare whatever we’re afraid of doing like there’s no tomorrow. If the synths of ‘Hooked On You’ won’t make you want to move your body, I don’t know what will!
This mood is progressing adding a beautifully prominent, organic touch into the blazing electronica, a howling saxophone (masterfully played by Fabian Hernandez) that gently steals the thunder of it all in ‘She’s a Professional’. A signature 80’s track, lyric-wise, talking about a woman, seductive as the sax itself, who has the power to own and control anyone. It feels comforting to remember how female sexuality used to be praised and empowered through music back then in contrast to how women are almost objectified today in both music and real life.
‘Twilight’ takes the listener from their hand, into a Neon-lit universe, or even better, into the pitch-black space filled with sparkling stars. The instrumental is an emotional volcano erupting with ethereal synths and an echoing beat, managing to speak straight to the heart without a single lyric, leaving space for us to translate it into whatever our soul wishes. It also works as a transition leading to the exotic space-jam called ‘Déjà vu’. This is an exceptionally interesting mix of tropical - flavored synths combined with a velvety space atmosphere, again made for the dance floor of some alien disco to play after ‘Hooked On You’. If I could create an image for ‘Déjà vu’ I would possibly get inspired by La Roux’s aesthetics on her sophomore ‘Trouble In Paradise’ LP. Maybe this one's my personal favorite until now.
Now, there’s an obvious Depeche Mode influence throughout the album which shines most brightly in ‘Human Nature’. The heavy kicks and distinctly minimalistic 10-key melody looping throughout the track make for a hyper vintage anthem that sounds like it’s coming straight from the birth of Synthwave. Still, the clean, sharp production and modern touches make this a contemporary gem to be enjoyed today.
'Primeval' closes with the dreamiest piece it has to offer. ‘Heaven Is Here’ feels like watching the waves crash on the rocks under the most magnificent sunset, the one of Santorini. This one is full of light and love and I can’t help mentioning how, once again, the sax climaxing towards the end is so passionate it literally feels like it’s making sweet love to the ears in the most glorious way. To be honest I can’t remember the last time I experienced an album’s closure as hopeful and optimistic as this one.
In a nutshell, Primeval seems to tick all the boxes and manages to pull off everything it stands for perfectly. Sandor Gavin created a body of work loaded with addictive, old-school beats and lucent synths that dwell in a romantic, sci-fi world inspired by the past, imbued with the brilliance of the present technology. A super cohesive LP from start to finish that has no hole or weakness but is bloated with 'hit single' material instead. I can only say a big Bravo to both Sandor Gavin and Fabian Hernandez and hope for Primeval to reach and bless as many -80’s thirsty- listeners as possible.
Listen to 'Primeval':