It's that time of year! It's Von Kaiser's "EP" season!
I would hope most synthwave fans (especially those who prefer vocals) know who Von Kaiser are. This talented trio from Michigan exhibit all the hallmarks of greatness. Excellent song writing, composition, harmonies, production, and even better live performances. As I write this article, I can't help but feel a pang of sadness that, at this very moment, I would be in Rhode Island at the NEON Retro Fest, watching them play, or getting smashed on vaporitas with the band. I've written several reviews of their albums and EPs (2 full albums now, and 2 EPs for good measure), and you can reference those here if you want to know more about the band. Suffice to say, I am a Von Kaiser superfan, and I don't hide it.
Lets listen to the 5 echos on this EP:
"Echos" released on August 31, 2020 (Von Kaiser's albums always drop on May the 4th, and their EPs at the end of summer). Their last release "Ghosts of Miami" was some of the best songwriting and production this year, and they continue with this energy, further honing their skills and releasing beautiful and powerful songs. "Echos" contains five tracks, each telling of a different dream or memory of moments from the past. Each is beautiful, haunting, powerful and dreamy.
“Echos Of The Sun” - A smooth fade in with a gentle bass following, David's voice tells of a drive to nowhere in particular, with the sun in the rear view mirror. Soft pads and the band's distinct synth sounds twinkle just as the chorus kicks in just under two minutes into the song.
“Echos Of Us” - Glittering arpeggiated synths compliment David's vocals as he sings of adventures and experiences shared by two people. The song is soft, delicate, and makes me think of the Black Mirror episode "San Junipero". Visions and dreams of two people, no matter where or who they are with.
“Echos In The Sky” - The most dreamlike song on the EP, "Echos In The Sky" has a slower beat, more ethereal synths, with David crooning of past hopes and dreams, wishful oceans in the sky. Listening to this song, I can't help but think of the hopes and dreams of us all at the beginning of 2020. Concerts and travel, health and wellness, and yet here we are. A beautiful track that really hits the feels.
“Echos of 1984” - This entry is more upbeat than the previous one, featuring uplifting harmonized vocals and a driving rhythm. You can hear Jake having fun with the synths in this, layers of pads and melodies, fading in and out over each other as the vocals sing of the past, times when things were better, wondering if we can regain the control and better times of days gone by. The lyrics ask you whether you've been brought back to those memories by a simple photo, or waking from a dream.
“Echos In Space” - The first single released from this EP, "Echos In Space" starts dreamlike and soft, then David's crystal clear voice and the deeper synths jump in, building, with additional layers being added until the drop just over a minute in. I must admit, David's singing is at it's best here, with smooth powerful notes held, his voice jumping from his natural range to falsettos beautifully. It really makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. This track is the longest on the EP, yet before you know it, it's over.
Last year, Von Kaiser released their end of summer EP "Glossy", which was simply incredible. From there, we've had the full album "Ghosts of Miami", as they continue their tradition of excellent writing and production. This year, we've been graced with a true "vocal dreamwave" experience. Where Glossy was the band flexing their muscle to show they could produce songs of any flavour, "Echos" is the band planting their flagpole, declaring that "vocal dreamwave" is what they are about, what they love, and what us fans gravitate to like moths to a flame.
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