Karl has been working as a freelance writer for more than ten years. He’s a music, art, and writing aficionado!
Electronic Warbear’s Afterlife is a sonic exploration of the story of “The Hacker,” who reawakens to a world he destroyed “in a futile attempt to change it for the better,” as Electronic Warbear explains.
Sound tells the story of the “shambles of the city he knew” and its dangers. Electronic Warbear uses a palette of contrasting auditory textures, melodies, harmonies, and synth sounds to reflect the complexity of “The Hacker’s” emotions.
Electronic Warbear skillfully interweaves all of the synth sounds on the album to create emotional responses, which is one of the album’s strongest features. To create a sense of balance, he often leavesns darker, technological sounds with sparkling synth that shines like lost stars, or intersperses tracks with darker feelings with more ethereal and ambient sounding pieces.
Afterlife has some well-crafted melodies as well. They’re clear and well-defined, and they have a hint of melancholy, which is one of my favorite qualities in a melody. It represents the pain “The Hacker” feels for the harm he’s caused in an ultimately futile attempt to save the world. Even if they are happy, they always leave a trace of sadness in their wake.
The tracks that are meant to evoke a more dystopian, ominous feeling, as well as the tracks that are meant to glow and coruscate, caress and enfold the listener, do so admirably. I also like how Electronic Warbear, no matter what he’s going for, nails the sonic imagery on this album.
As hollow synths with a pan pipe voice rise in a drifting pattern over dark grumbles of bass and broken drums, the background sounds are hard, glitchy, and almost insectile. “Back On Earth” begins with a flurry of high-tech sound and a distant beat that moves out into space.
Over the piano notes that move darkly over a deep bed of bass, the pan pipe synth rises in wandering patterns. Before fading into silence, the reverent vocal synths move with the echoing, shifting piano notes. Over the slicing, distorted sounds below them, vocal-sounding synths grow in choral waves.
This track makes me feel lost, nervous, and dark, which I like. The ghostly, wandering piano notes that glide over a twisting, rising sonic backdrop add tension to the track draw me in. As the pulsating synths oscillate and eerie sounds slip by above them, elevated notes trip and slide through the music. The cascading drumbeat and patterns of computerized, medium-high synth notes flutter over the top of the thick bass backing as a medium-high synth washes in with a shadowy, nervous sound.
Over the full bass, floaty, celestial sounds move in slow waves. The drums tick and throb as “The Tower” comes to life with intensely deep, heavy bass rebounds. An open-voiced synth with a gleaming quality carries the softly gliding, melancholy main melody. The track is propelled forward by an interlocking background of bass and beats.
The guitar melody, which tremulously winds its way through the track, has a similar uneasy feeling to it. As crystalline notes flicker into open space and float in filmy, ephemeral clouds, there is a lull. I like how the melody becomes more shaky as it is accompanied by the grumbling distortion of an electric guitar as a contrast. As the guitar swells up with a slipping metallic sound and reverent choral synths singing above it all, the active bass line shapes the music.
As a massive, solid drumbeat hits the music, bright, computerized arpeggios spin around it, the piano plays powerful chords. To start things off, piano notes with a triumphant feel march into “Afterlife.” Before a warm, rising melodic line is carried by a synth bursting with light, the track dissolves into static noise and drums.
As driving piano chords climb over the technological sounding mid-tone arpeggios, a warm, melodic line is carried on a glimmering synth. Before a softly yearning synth shines into and through the music in a deeply enjoyable way for me, there’s a break into rushing static and pulsing drums. As the beat throbs and shifts, small flashes of shimmering synth swell, delicate notes float out as the piano pattern repeats and air and water rush in smoothly.
“Thought I Was” begins with distant rain sounds and elegant, ethereal notes drifting through cavernous space as a full drum sound adds its heartbeat, bass drops in, and vocal samples float into space as well. The track has a smooth and gliding quality to it, with the synths gently wandering through and the rain washing out into silence. The contrast between the misty background and the ranting vocal sample is quite effective in my opinion.
As it moves out over the shimmering arpeggios, steady and gliding beat, and throbbing bass, Juan Cezar (from Frisky Monkey) has a voice full of ghostly, deep tragedy. “Edge of Nowhere” begins with a descending, gleaming pattern of richly rounded synth and a slowly pulsing drum beat. As the massive drum sound throbs beneath the active bass, the melody has a timeless feel to it. The vocal melody has an emotional quality to it, which I like.
As the relentless drums keep moving, the roving, gliding lead synth melody returns as nasal, round synth carries the quick arpeggios that rapidly spin into the track. The song’s depth is enhanced by Juan Cezar’s aching, deep vocals, which are supported by the arcing arpeggios and driving beat. As the instrumental melody twists and bends, Seersha’s strong voice is expressive and trembling.
As he describes how the “midnight sun beating down on me shows no semblance of mercy,” he conveys a sense of oppression. “Try as we might, we can’t seem to stop it,” he says, expressing a strong sense of being trapped. The story of The Hacker, on which the album is based, is well expressed in the lyrics of this song.
The lyric “Unable to make a decision, we’re driving off the edge of nowhere” has a sense of futility to it, which only grows as he talks about “skirting the edge of desperation, hoping it will lead somewhere.” As he drives with “no destination,” he is aimless.
Relief appears on the horizon as the approaching darkness “brings clarity, breaks my bonds, sets me free,” but it is fleeting as the “sudden eclipse comes over me, shrouding everything in mystery.”
As he talks about reaching the highest stakes in his life, the tension rises. As his situation becomes clear, “reality breaks as the earth bakes,” and he describes how his car “tanks” as he is shaken, and he’s “on all gas and no brakes.”
Finally, he asks if he will survive or die on the “longest drive to the afterlife…the endless ride to nowhere” because he is “on the edge of a knife for this world’s strife.”
The music has a radiance to it that adds a pleasant glow as it progresses through the track. “Lost In the Machine” starts with swirling synth breaths that flicker as they move into the open space of the track, while the oscillating bass gives the music more weight and depth. While the cosmic rush of sound drifts and rises in cloudy waves, delicate piano notes brush the surface of the music.
The fullness of growing piano chords adds to the track’s open feeling, while the other sonic elements glide along with it. As the piano flits over top, shadow cloaked, intertwining notes shift beneath it. The drums enter the track lightly, and the piano plays soft, caressing notes that grow in strength as the music becomes more tense.
The distant sounds are accompanied by fuller, more lambent synths that grow beneath them. As “Fighting in the Alley” begins, echoes and distant sounds flutter out into a vast sonic space. While a stuttering drum n’ bass beat adds its energy, a sharper edged synth buzzes softly into the music in a pattern of notes that reaches a crescendo. As the bass line shifts and all of the elements flow smoothly, I’m drawn to the darker shading.
Sunlit chords now support the creaky, buzzing synth, which is now accompanied by flashes of spinning, metallic sound. As the beat stutters and we fade to the minor key twist to the melody and trickling watery patterns of synth notes fade out, triumphant, sweeping chords on a medium-low synth carry a climbing melody of hope. The broken beats are offset by a gliding flow of caressing synths.
The medium-low synth plays a flowing, swirling pattern of hypnotic sound, and I’m drawn in by the music’s enfolding qualities, which are amplified by the openness of the soundstage around them. “The Space Between” opens with a heavy bass, smooth drums, and a meandering, undulating pattern of piano notes. A continuous wave of iridescent sound washes over the track, carried by a nasal synth with a pleasingly rounded quality. Above the skipping beat and the well of supporting bass, a series of ascending piano notes rise.
Light chords plan out into the hazy sonic space, and a steady flow of bass shapes the music as a distant piano touches it before the track fades away. The extended notes shimmer like sunlight on water, clouds of creamy sound enveloping the listener’s ears. As the beat ticks along with soothing ease, I felt as if I were floating in deep, blue water. To begin “Dreaming,” a wave of silky, luminous sound stretches out in planes of extended notes that sail into the music.
I’m lost in a world of calm and peace, surrounded by reverent and open sounds that move with consummate warmth, like a crystal choir. Rain falls softly, and airy, hollow, sweet sounds breeze into the music, bringing “Crossover” to life. The beat comes in to support the track, which is full of warm feelings.
My shoulders relax as the beat throbs and the glassy, singing synth sounds move in a melodic line. The music’s gentle touch envelops me and carries me away on waves of ambient sound that fade into rain and silence. With sparkling synth notes high above and a slight static-y edge below, the piano lightly touches the track’s surface.
Afterlife is a showcase for Electronic Warbear’s ability to create music that is expressive, interwoven, and full of emotional depth using a tapestry of synthesized sounds. I think it’s a great synth-based piece, and I hope to hear more from him in the future.