C-Jeff’s “Big Steel Wheels” is a fantastic throw back to chiptune and 80’s synthesizers. It’s a labour of love that deserves an audience for those that enjoy synth music and chiptunes.
Opening with the flamboyant “Big Rig” we are treated to cascades of synths buzzing off each other as the big intro is revealed. That bursts into a sea of “Momo’s Truck Stop” which is smooth and reminds me of everything about over produced 80’s soul music, only with even more synth work. Think a relaxed Outrun theme and you are there – sun, warm breezes and plenty of solo sine waves wailing away. “The Path of Machines” then add’s real guitar into the mix. It is everything you could possibly need in a massive stadium synth rock piece. Plenty of pedal, plenty of chugging and a lot of finger picking awesomeness. It’s all backed up by something that could have been the score to the original Terminator film. It also doesn’t sit still either, swapping synths for guitars, bass solos, explosive arpeggios and blasting tom drum segments. It must have taken ages to put together. “Transmitter” marks as a pulsating interlude of channel shifts and grizzly bass buzzes before “Streets in Motion” kicks in with its crystalline melodies and funky embellishments. Still sticking firmly in the hardcore synth arena, its amazing how much diversity you can get in a keyboard. The album also has a live sounding reverb to all the instrumentation which gives it a certain organic vibe throughout. Here it makes it feel like someone is playing a live version of a Sonic medley!
“Love on the Wheels” takes a quiet moment of synth harpsichord breath before we dive into the grizzly electronica rock of “Black Lock” which firmly leads with a stomping drum beat and electric guitar. Although the album so far has been completely synth bassed, this is by far the most game soundtrack’d the music has been so far with epic boss sounding riffs and even a beautifully whimsical outro that waves you goodbye – a real standout track. “Whispered Torture” hisses and snarls with ambient glides before the manic “High Speed Torture” turns the crank up and showcases C-Jeff’s ability to merge rock and synth together perfectly. This track is the metal track of the album where everything explodes in your ears and freaks out. The tempo rises and rises into a frenzy for the exhilarating finale.
“Tailwind” brings you back down with ambient rain and storm clouds over a low-key melodic roll as if you are spiralling down from the sky in slow motion. It’s still full on as there’s plenty of instruments playing but its slow tempo and gentle chord rolling makes for a nice come down. “Boiling Point” returns to the rocktronica with a stadium rock edge. It’s all about the power chords with guitar and the build up to the literally explosive finale. As the album goes on it adds in cheesey 80’s action movie catch phrases as if you’re listening to a movie soundtrack with snippets of the dialogue in. It fits in with the vibe nicely and adds an extra slice of cheese to the mix! “A Thousand Bridges” is having a fun tour de force at the end of the album showcasing the most cohesive blend of synth and guitar duelling on the album before “P.S.” ends with a cute chiptune that is full of bubbles and thick 16-bit goodness.
C-Jeff’s “Big Steel Wheels” is definitely an acquired taste but there is no denying that the musical prowess on display for your ears here is in the very top-tier. There’s so much going on at times, it’s like an 80’s revival. I wanted Jean-Claude Van Damme, Arnie, Sly and Dolph Lundgren to come flying out the speakers to enact their movie infront of me. If that’s not a recommendation – nothing is!