Confrontational ‘A Dance of Shadows’ Review: Italian synth act conjure 80’s neon-noir and horror soundscapes on début album.
If I had to pick the most interesting musical genre of the past few years, Synthwave would definitely top the list. Growing up on a steady diet of horror films with slick synth soundtracks, I enjoy seeing new artists revisit the slick minimalist stylings of the 80’s.
So it was with great interest that I dove into A Dance of Shadows, the début album from Confrontational, a project from Italian musician Massimo (“Max”) Usai.
From the opening track Shadowdancing, you get sucked in: it’s a sleek instrumental with a whipcrack beat and swirling electronics akin to fellow Synthwave artist Kavinsky with shades of Goblin and Giorgio Moroder thrown in for good measure.
But Usai includes several vocal tracks well, such as the grim and plodding Flat/Line, with a tone and vocal style reminiscent of the early dark synth-pop days of Ministry, or the ghostly, shimmering Like A Curse, which features a melodic Michael Mann-tastic guitar solo from ex-Prong bassist (and current Madonna guitarist) Monte Pittman.
The album also offers a clear nod to the grandaddy of electronic horror soundtracks, filmmaker/composer John Carpenter. The most fervent example is To Live and Die on The Air, featuring Carpenters’s son Cody (who also contributed to the director’s recent album Lost Themes). It’s an ideal track for late-night drives or chill-out headphone sessions.
A Dance of Shadows is an accomplished début that will thrill soundtrack aficionados and lovers of electronic music alike. Confrontational make tunes for the movie inside your mind. It’s a sonic trip well worth taking.