REVIEW: THE BLACK QUEEN – “Infinite Games”
The funny thing about music is that there is an eventual repetition inevitably. Electro music with fragments of synthwave and retrowave have been making rounds in recent times. There is always something about music in this sense. In hindsight, music then becomes all about going back to the future, ideally with a DeLorean DMC-12. Enter The Black Queen and their music deeply rooted in a weird sense of nostalgia from a time some of us were even a part of. Despite that, the beauty of this is that the nostalgia displaces itself and thus making timeless. The band’s newest album ‘Infinite Games’ is a product of this displaced nostalgia that we all seem to find ourselves in.
The album opens up with a warm and mellow synth and pad build up in “Even Still I Want To”. It is almost like the start of a time machine. This is of course an inviting prospect. The late 20th century cyberpunk makes itself apparent with “Thrown Into the Dark”. The song is pretty chill to listen to. The vocals and the singing is the high point given the limited yet cleverly placed synth work all over the music. This is a standard and often a given in such music.
“No Accusations” comes up some tasty electro percussive parts coupled with some weird and cheesy singing. To top it all, this doesn’t sound awful. It of course demands a certain artistic merit to pull this off. “Your Move” makes it pretty obvious that this music is best enjoyed by a niche crowd. By itself the song is alright. But you probably won’t use this song to introduce the band or the genre. Despite the appeal, nostalgia can fall short in universality at times. But I suppose it will eventually catch up. “Lies About You” takes over from the previous song and its a return to the overall vibe of the album, only with strong synth bass lines. This is one groovy and tasteful track.
The synth and bass work on the album get a lot more serious with “Impossible Condition”. The synth work and the vocals give the song a very wide sense of space and the percussions make the song sound massive. Despite the lows on the song, the detail and clarity is wonderful! The layering and arrangements on this song is an absolute sonic treat.
“Spatial Boundaries” is a mix of slow and chill vibes along with more groovy and pacey sections. All without sounding awfully amateurish. This is one of nicest songs off the album. “100 to Zero” is a small song with a stronger emphasis on ambience than the rest of the music so far. The ambience builds tension here and the synth and bass work adds a lot of colour to the tension. “Porcelain Veins” is another sonic treat with all the layering and instrumentation. The singing simply beautiful on this one. The album comes to an end with “One Edge of Two”. This song sort of sums up the vision for the album so far. A running bassline and heavy sounding drums almost overdoses on the nostalgia. The transitions in this song opens up the music to more colourful soundscapes and wonderfully compliments the singing.
All in all ‘Infinite Games’ by The Black Queen is as nostalgic as synthwave, retrowave and related electro music gets. The synth work and composition is classy. It does the job as far as the genre is concerned. You’ve got your nostalgia. The production is fairly contemporary. Maybe I personally would have liked a more old school sound but nevertheless this sounds pretty darn good! This is a fine album to simply chill with. While the album does appear a little straightforward at first, there is a lot of attention to detail that has gone into layering, arrangement and the overall production. It is a treat in that sense. This is something to look forward to if the repetitive parts haven’t put you off so far. However niche the music might be, it isn’t hard to get on those niche levels. Maybe over simply the effort gone into layering, some over the top synth soloing might have found a lot more universal appeal. I certainly missed those and I think it would be awesome if the band throws some super rad synth leads and voicing. The singing on this record is perfect. It fits the music and nothing seems off place. It is easy for everything to sound disassociated and fragmented in this genre and style of music. Perhaps disassociation is the last thing one wants when they try to reinvent nostalgia.