Crate-Digging: Demonstration Synthesis – DS13

DS13

(La Cohu, 2014)

What the balls. It’s like 2014 was the year of Demonstration Synthesis, aka Daniel Leznoff of Montreal. (No, wait – for those of you confused, Daniel Leznoff is not in of Montreal. That’s Kevin Barnes. Eff that guy.) See, DS, Daniel Leznoff – again, not Kevin Barnes – released fourteen things this year, on like a ton of different labels! This one’s on La Cohu, a beacon of synthesizer hope in a world going straight down the tubes. Hey, I get it – fourteen releases in 2014! You win this one, Leznoff.

So I totally missed the boat here, and let twelve releases slip by before I ended up writing about DS13. It’s not like DS was hidden from me or anything – on the contrary, I think the problem was that I saw so many releases pop up that I didn’t know where to start! So here I am, lucky number thirteen, and it’s as good a place as any – and it really is a good place.

Following the rules of good synthesizer music, Leznoff starts off this tape with “I Follow the Rules” (hey!), a delicate synthesizer composition reflecting a number of Carpi Records artists (and for whom Leznoff has released music in the past). This transitions into “Turnover,” where the synths warble and meet percussion in what I can only imagine soul music sounds like on ketamine.

And isn’t that the perfect template to follow? The rest of the album falls into something akin to these two categories – it doesn’t stray far from them, at any rate. So while “Mesh” is the sound of stumbling upon a mana spring in a Final Fantasy game and “Up at the Top” imagines the vistas you’ll see from somewhere way, way high up in the air, the album ends with the relatively gratier “Camaraderie Among Beasts” and “Just a Fool,” both recalling Dylan Ettinger’s somewhat grimy synth work. And “Mess” is an outlier – originally recorded in 2010 and appended here, it’s almost got a pop hook and R&B beat, but it smooths itself into the pastels of approaching sunset. Somebody call … an R&B singer, I guess, to use this as a backing track. (I don’t follow pop music so much…)

There is a part of me that, after listening to DS13 all the way through, has a sneaking suspicion that all is not what it seems on the Demonstration Synthesis front. I feel like I’ve been hypnotized, honestly, like I’m not supposed to know anything about Demonstration Synthesis beyond the year 2014. There are some deep conspiracies afoot, if I may be so bold, and I think Leznoff’s come to help us evolve beyond the need for modern technology. I also think the government is trying to cover it up.

My security clearance is pretty low, though, so it’s all conjecture. I do have it on good authority that Leznoff’s DS13/14 releases are tricks – I’m sure there are hundreds of unregistered transmissions, and we’re only being fed what we’re supposed to be aware of. The possibilities are endless. I’d try to assuage that nagging feeling but I’m afraid I have to go on the Deep Web to find anything meaningful, and I’m on my work computer, so I had to put the kibosh on that idea before I even thought of it.

And anyway, I think that sounds like I’m ripping off the idea from some book anyway. Maybe even one I just read. Spoilers….

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RIYL: Opaline, Portopia ’81, Black Unicorn, Dylan Ettinger


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