What does Paul Feder sound like?
80s indie synthpop with a heavy use of vocoders
The review of Paul Feder – Never Sleep
Following on from his promising 2021 EP ‘Nightwalk‘, Paul Feder returns with his synths for his new release ‘Never Sleep’. Clearly, Paul is a nocturnal man judging by his naming convention and his unique mix of heavy vocoder effects, retro and modern synths and clever beats makes his music stand out. This time around the music sounds more layered and complex but I’m not sure it is the right step forward in all areas.
The title track mixes what seems like four or five drum loops together to bring a chaotic mix of electronic and live-sounding drums and the beat is the stable backbone of the track. Over the top, we get some really thick synths that sound like they’ve escaped 1991 with a megaphone and a vocal drenched with vocoder and warping effects. This brings big climactic moments where everything reaches fever pitch but the vocals and synths are competing for your attention like they are trying to out wah-wah each other. I enjoyed the track but the vocals don’t sit quite right in the mix. On repeated listens I’ve got used to the track. I wanted to as it’s pretty climactic and fun to listen to. Fair warning though: it may take your ears time to adjust.
This problem doesn’t pop up in the other two tracks which are layered in a more supportive way. ‘Home’ is the quieter track on the release with synth strings, and light percussion. It reminds me a bit of SOHN and Adam Fielding’s lighter moments and whilst it’s airy, there is a lot of subtle detail in the synths hiding underneath the broad-stroke chords. In contrast ‘Wonderful Day’ is all about the bass throb. It is straight from an early Prodigy or Freezepop song but then allows the dreamier synths and vocals to hold the higher frequencies without arguing for each other. By going for a restrained delivery, both tracks sound easier to listen to. Maybe it is my ear but once I’d got used to these tracks, I could enjoy ‘Never Sleep’ more too.
I’ve been picky but it’s because Paul Feder creates great music. There is a rough DIY edge here that is being smoothed and soothed with each release. The raw talent is here – and so is the interesting song structure and synth layering. I’m really looking forward to Paul’s debut album whenever that will land as I think he’ll shine in a long-play format. Apparently, new material is in the works, inspired by our current world grappling with AI’s ascendancy. In the meantime, ‘Never Sleep’ hints at excellence and gives us some 80s-tinged DIY synthpop to dip into with glee.
Recommended track: Wonderful Day
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