Space Echoes, the recently released album by the über-talented French synthpop duo Foretaste, is an elegantly crafted masterpiece – perhaps their best work ever!
Judging by the name and the cover art, you would assume that this is a trip into outer space by way of synthpop. But the subjects of this set of songs have more to do with the spaces between us, and the loneliness caused by our estrangement. In a sense, this is a different type of bittersweet space echo, as we feel our way through the uncertainties and turbulence of the relationships in our lives.
Here are some highlights from Space Echoes:
Lost in Space: The opener of this excellent album starts with a muffled synth riff, which builds quickly into an electronic drum beat and several more layers of synths, for a lush, satisfying midtempo arrangement.
First Symptoms: This uptempo track features a driving bass beat and playful synths. It seems to be about the protagonist getting into a relationship, albeit begrudgingly: “I saw you smile/I played your stupid game/I’ve never felt this way before.”
Falling Babylon: This cool ballad starts out with a dissonant synth chord, which is soon joined by a variety of electronic percussion sounds and noises, which give this song kind of a creepy but cool vibe. Vocalist Lover_XX’s dreamy, plaintive vocals tell another story of a love that destroyed her dreams. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album, simply because it is so unique.
I Know Where to Find You: This ballad tells the story of a lonely protagonist who wants to connect with a former lover. She sounds fairly desperate, too: “Hold me/kiss me/use me/Love me until you die/I come for you/I know where to find you.” Another deliciously complex arrangement!
P.U.L.S.E: This mid-tempo song features a sparse arrangement of Lover_XX’s plaintive vocals paired with rhythm synths. The chorus becomes more anthemic, accompanied by a soaring synth line. The protagonist seems to be in a deep state of confusion: “Only lies causing some confusion/No more life, no more information/Only words we do not understand/No more cries, no more strange reaction.” This is a very enjoyable track!
Every Shadow: This track opens with a set of driving strings, which is soon joined by Lover_XX’s vocals and a lone bass synth line. The song then transitions into a very cool minor key chorus, making this one of my favorite tracks of the whole album. The lyrics are a declaration that the protagonist is no longer content to live an empty, meaningless life: “I need to live again/I need to dream again.” The lyrics create contrasts between light and dark and other dualities of nature and life: “Every shadow needs a light/Every romance needs a start/Every darkness needs the stars/Every lover needs a sign.” This is another gorgeously arranged track that is a delight to listen to on headphones.
Paradise of Broken Hearts: The contrast between opposites continues with this track. You normally don’t hear the terms paradise and broken hearts used in the same sentence. But here, they seem to make sense. Even in the face of a broken relationship there is beauty in new growth. This track opens with an aggressive, repetitive synth riff. This soon fades into the background, replaced by Lover_XX’s vocals paired with a stirring string and piano arrangement. Compared to Foretaste’s many other richly textured, layered arrangements, this one is striking in it’s sparseness. That’s not a bad thing, either: it’s a beautiful song! The lyrics of this beautiful ballad tell the story of a protagonist who has stuck with a fruitful relationship for too long: “I have seen too many things/Been waiting for my dreams/Patiently.”
Alpha: The closing track of Space Echoes, Alpha, is an instrumental, and what a great one it is. It opens with the sound of static and the distorted sounds of a voice as if from the radio station or transmission far away. This gives way to a beautiful piano riff that dominates the middle of the song. It’s accented by a deeply resonant bass synth line, plus strikingly bright percussive effects. The arrangement builds to an elegant crescendo as different elements come into play and then fade into the background. This is a gorgeous instrumental!
It’s been a real pleasure to watch the evolution of Foretaste. They just keep getting better and better, weaving audio synthetic tapestries that amaze and delight. Just like a signal in space will goes on forever, because there’s nothing to slow it down or stop it, these songs will resonate in your mind long after you have stopped listening to them. Kudos to Lover_XX and Lover_XY – Space Echoes is a masterpiece!