Music in a Time of Uncertainty Synthpop BlakLight Mind Machine is a duo, consisting of singer Brian Belknap and instrumentalist Brian Olsen, that has decorated our website a couple of times within our What's In Our Inbox? columns. The band began their climb from forgotten 90's obscurity in February of 2017 when they released "Movement: The Very Best of Mind Machine 1990-1995". After relative success with the release, Mind Machine moved forward and has since released a couple of albums, EPs, and remix albums. Mind Machine released "Remix The Machine" in August of 2019 in which Adam Collier, under the name MDA, remixed Mind Machine's song 'Hundred Thousand Million'. What seemed to be a one-shot deal blossomed into something more when Collier contacted Belknap looking for more one-off collaborations. The first song that was sent to Belknap turned into 'Under the BlakLight'. Then another song was sent. And another. And it was shortly after that that both Belknap and Collier understood one another's chemistry and the formula they created with one another. Thus BlakLight was born. Music in a Time of Uncertainty by BlakLightAugust of 2020 showed the fruits of the project's labor with "Isolation", a two-track release containing the title track as well as 'Lady Shave'. Positive reception heralded a green light for the project to keep steamrolling forward and in October 2020 we received 'Unknown Love', the project's second double containing the title track and 'Ashes To Ashes'. Further support boosted the morale of BlakLight and, in a deliberate streamline of releases, we have come to the inception of their debut album "Music in a Time of Uncertainty". The title of the album is well-chosen and simple; it tells you exactly what the album will be about. Like many other synthpop albums, the topics of discussion are depressing and sad. 'Isolation', for example, has multiple meanings to myself the most obvious being that of Covid-19's self-isolation policies that are driving many with mental health issues to a breaking point. I also find a love-song, perhaps regarding someone who has since passed away. The lyrics read, "Falling star / Make a wish tonight / In my dreams / I see / You're just out of sight". Themes of love and departure continue further into the album with songs such as 'Last Chance'. In this song a break-up between two partners is imminent and, as the title chance, they are seeking a last chance with one another to amend relations. Belknap sings in the song, "Please tell me how we go back where it began / Please show me how we abandon what we have". Despite the depressing lyrics within the song, Belknap's vocals raise an awareness of hopefulness and joy throughout "Music in a Time of Uncertainty". Tense and strong-willed chords strike out throughout the album such as in 'The Sound'. He's able to follow the beat with what is derived from years of practice within the electronic scene. The same song finds backing chords behind Belknap's which only serves to heighten the groove of both his voice and the song in general. A duet on 'Under the BlakLight' is another highlight of the album during the chorus of the song. Whether synthesized or made with a natural voice, it nonetheless sounds wonderful. Despite the depressing sound and serious nature of Belknap's vocals, Collier's synthesizer and programming lends a classic danceable synthpop sound to the album. 'I Remember Nothing' is a quintessential to BlakLight's discography that would rally a crowd in a club to the dance floor for a near five-minute burst of fun. 'Lost...' is another lovely little song that utilizes a slight static sound that is barely audible yet accompanies the beat well enough. The lead dance synth is fantastic and every electronic blip and boop within the song is expertly placed. The only criticism that I have for BlakLight thus far is that in a sea of dozens upon dozens of synthpop releases, I believe that their music would not stand out that well on a playlist filled with other synthpop bands. I receive nearly thirty to forty submissions per week via Brutal's e-mail which includes synthpop and electropop and other retro inspired genres. Sitting through and listening to many of these submissions for the past seven-years and some-months has trained my ears to spot unique sounding individuals. While BlakLight's crisp sound and clean production is to be praised, I believe they are on the cusp of something great just not entirely there yet. This is a good album for sure, but they are missing an element within their structure that would truly make them stand out from the competition.BlakLight's "Music in a Time of Uncertainty" will be a blessing for fans of synthpop and related genres. It's a fun, depressing, yet danceable album that will take away your Covid-blues during this Holiday season. It's available in both CD and digital formats via the band's Bandcamp page. This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page. Feel free to check it out for review, interview, and premiere opportunities.  450
Brutal Resonance

BlakLight - Music in a Time of Uncertainty

7.0
"Good"
Released off label 2020
Mind Machine is a duo, consisting of singer Brian Belknap and instrumentalist Brian Olsen, that has decorated our website a couple of times within our What's In Our Inbox? columns. The band began their climb from forgotten 90's obscurity in February of 2017 when they released "Movement: The Very Best of Mind Machine 1990-1995". After relative success with the release, Mind Machine moved forward and has since released a couple of albums, EPs, and remix albums. Mind Machine released "Remix The Machine" in August of 2019 in which Adam Collier, under the name MDA, remixed Mind Machine's song 'Hundred Thousand Million'. What seemed to be a one-shot deal blossomed into something more when Collier contacted Belknap looking for more one-off collaborations. The first song that was sent to Belknap turned into 'Under the BlakLight'. Then another song was sent. And another. And it was shortly after that that both Belknap and Collier understood one another's chemistry and the formula they created with one another. Thus BlakLight was born. 



August of 2020 showed the fruits of the project's labor with "Isolation", a two-track release containing the title track as well as 'Lady Shave'. Positive reception heralded a green light for the project to keep steamrolling forward and in October 2020 we received 'Unknown Love', the project's second double containing the title track and 'Ashes To Ashes'. Further support boosted the morale of BlakLight and, in a deliberate streamline of releases, we have come to the inception of their debut album "Music in a Time of Uncertainty". 

The title of the album is well-chosen and simple; it tells you exactly what the album will be about. Like many other synthpop albums, the topics of discussion are depressing and sad. 'Isolation', for example, has multiple meanings to myself the most obvious being that of Covid-19's self-isolation policies that are driving many with mental health issues to a breaking point. I also find a love-song, perhaps regarding someone who has since passed away. The lyrics read, "Falling star / Make a wish tonight / In my dreams / I see / You're just out of sight". Themes of love and departure continue further into the album with songs such as 'Last Chance'. In this song a break-up between two partners is imminent and, as the title chance, they are seeking a last chance with one another to amend relations. Belknap sings in the song, "Please tell me how we go back where it began / Please show me how we abandon what we have". 

Despite the depressing lyrics within the song, Belknap's vocals raise an awareness of hopefulness and joy throughout "Music in a Time of Uncertainty". Tense and strong-willed chords strike out throughout the album such as in 'The Sound'. He's able to follow the beat with what is derived from years of practice within the electronic scene. The same song finds backing chords behind Belknap's which only serves to heighten the groove of both his voice and the song in general. A duet on 'Under the BlakLight' is another highlight of the album during the chorus of the song. Whether synthesized or made with a natural voice, it nonetheless sounds wonderful. 

Despite the depressing sound and serious nature of Belknap's vocals, Collier's synthesizer and programming lends a classic danceable synthpop sound to the album. 'I Remember Nothing' is a quintessential to BlakLight's discography that would rally a crowd in a club to the dance floor for a near five-minute burst of fun. 'Lost...' is another lovely little song that utilizes a slight static sound that is barely audible yet accompanies the beat well enough. The lead dance synth is fantastic and every electronic blip and boop within the song is expertly placed. 

The only criticism that I have for BlakLight thus far is that in a sea of dozens upon dozens of synthpop releases, I believe that their music would not stand out that well on a playlist filled with other synthpop bands. I receive nearly thirty to forty submissions per week via Brutal's e-mail which includes synthpop and electropop and other retro inspired genres. Sitting through and listening to many of these submissions for the past seven-years and some-months has trained my ears to spot unique sounding individuals. While BlakLight's crisp sound and clean production is to be praised, I believe they are on the cusp of something great just not entirely there yet. This is a good album for sure, but they are missing an element within their structure that would truly make them stand out from the competition.

BlakLight's "Music in a Time of Uncertainty" will be a blessing for fans of synthpop and related genres. It's a fun, depressing, yet danceable album that will take away your Covid-blues during this Holiday season. It's available in both CD and digital formats via the band's Bandcamp page. 

This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page. Feel free to check it out for review, interview, and premiere opportunities. 
Nov 28 2020

Off label

Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Steven Gullotta

info@brutalresonance.com
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.

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Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

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