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Album Review: Elay Arson – Borrowed Memories

Elay Arson’s new EP Borrowed Memories emerges as a must listen for the second half of 2018. On the album cover, the visage of a hooded witch standing in lavender smoke will immerse you into a Shadowrun scenario where magic and post-modern tech come together in one realm, which suits the theme of this latest release from the Colorado based synthwave duo.

Let’s face it, no one covers Led Zeppelin without carrying a heavy burden, but Elay Arson manages to do it with a unique twist of “Immigrant Song” that does not betray the original. Guest singer Becca Star ascends over the synthesized battlefield like a cyber valkyrie with enchanting vocal harmonies.

“Hotline L.A.” brings Elay Arson back down to what they do best, which is create intense guitar backed synth with hard as nails beats. The song, which was inspired by the Hotline Miami game, certainly sets the tone of a story driven by violence and glamorous neon lights.

“Gods Among Men” is my favorite original track so far on the EP. There’s an exciting aggressive build up of tension with a glossy pop style that artists in the darkwave genre are known to do so well, and then at the two minute mark, you’re released into the jet stream of rhythm. The song is so delightfully energetic that you may not even notice you’ve been riding on it for seven minutes when it finally climaxes into a curious keyboard-led outro.

“Final Midnight Ride” has a bit of mystique to it, and it’s certainly the strangest track on Borrowed Memories. You can tell that this is where they decided to just get experimental and let all of their creative juices flow. While the bravado displayed on the track is certainly impressive, it does feel a bit lacking trailing into its second half. The song has an awesome build up, and then Elay Arson starts to go all over the place. It’s certainly a cool track, but I’m lost in my attempts to dissect it.

Elay Arson’s Borrowed Memories doesn’t present anything that we haven’t heard before in darkwave, but it does give us some of the best parts of the genre in a brief exhibition of skill and creative output. The Zeppelin cover is guaranteed to turn some heads, but I think it would be a mistake to ignore the rest of the album.

Borrowed Memories was released on August 3rd on cassette and digitally through their Bandcamp.

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