There’s something serene about listening to Static Shore’s upcoming fourth release, Panikon. It’s relaxed atmosphere is extremely pleasing to the ears. The Seattle based Synthpop duo of Shannon Alexander (Vocals, Synths) and Eric Smith (Synths, Beats), originally hail from Colorado, but moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2012. Here, they found themselves inspired by their new landscape, as well as the community surrounding it, and this is what helped to shape their musical vision.

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The music here is very chilled-out. There’s no over-the-top dramatic melodies or needless showiness, it’s of a much more simple nature. That’s not to say it’s basic, far from it! Every track has been carefully crafted, and the way they’re done so makes it more of a laid back affair. The mood in which it generates is extremely rich, and is something that is sure to hook the listener in right from the start.

Every track has been carefully crafted, and the way they’re done so makes it more of a laid back affair.

“Fall” sets the stage perfectly. A calming, relaxed melody creates a vibrant atmosphere, as a catchy drumbeat and bassline kick in later. “Any Stage” continues the minimalistic tone, starting with a simple, pusling drumbeat and haunting piano, the main focus being on the delicate vocal performance. Layers of synths then kick in, building a deep atmosphere, as well as the addtion of some catchy hooks. The melody featured in the latter half of the track is beautiful. It’s easy to see why this was chosen as a lead single, with it’s low-fi style music video, feauring sweeping lanscapes, being the perfect way to compliment the sound. It has echoes of the retro influences that the duo are influenced by.  The intro to “Wednesday Grind” is mesmerising, with a contrast in sounds that heighten this mood. I found this one is very reminiscent of 80’s music, with many elements, and chord progression, blending to create a hypnotic sensation. “Many Times” has a stop-start pacing to it’s rhythm, giving it a slightly erratic feel, which makes it rather dynamic. The ambience is the most prominent in this song, moulding perfectly with the calming vocals that are presented. “Innocent Tea” has a much more bassy tone than the rest of the tracks, the contrasting light melody working with it in harmony. There’s a schizophrenic feel in layered vocals, with there being a second row that is delivered in a completely different way. This only makes the track all the more engaging to listen to. The synthscapes in “The Incredible Now” have a very immediate timbre to them, making it an energetic track. This, in combination with a higher-paced beat, makes it quite danceable, and a nice change of pace for the record. “Hush” has a much deeper pitch to it’s electro sounds, as if it were taking place from inside of a virtual world. Ambience once again takes the forefront, the various effects greatly emphasised to full effect. “Delphi” brings back the speedy pace, once again injecting some more energy into the proceedings. The chords constantly build up in the background, although there’s not the usual euphoric release, as is seen in most music. Instead, this is utilised in a clever way, by a shift in rhythm in the second half, which is extremely pleasing. Closing off the record, is “Tonic”, and it’s an excellent way to complete it. It has an intelligent use of different effects to structure the track, the mood it creates is an enthralling one.

What makes this album such a great listening experience, is the fact that it’s all presented so subtly. It still manages to achieve a strong presence and a high level of atmosphere, yet the music feels minimalistic, with a tactical placement of shifts in tone and melody patterns to get the feeling across. These stunning melodies are the perfect combination for Shannon Alexander’s soft vocals, and the deep, meaningful lyrics within each track.

This isn’t an album that just creates an emotion, it takes you away to a different place…

All these different, simple elements working in tandem blend together to create something that feels a lot more complex and intricate. Panikon is not only pleasant to listen to, it’s aura is hypnotising. Whilst listening, I found myself getting lost within it, daydreaming about relaxing on sunny beaches, basking in the warmth of the sun, as the waves gently roll in. This isn’t an album that just creates an emotion, it takes you away to a different place, and it’s a place I guarantee that you’ll want to go back to and experience again.

Final verdict: A pleasant, beautiful album that is minimalistic in it’s various elements but combines these to create something much more intricate. It doesn’t just create an atmosphere, it takes you to a different place!

Tracklist:

  1. Fall
  2. Any Stage
  3. Wednesday Grind
  4. Many Times
  5. Innocent Tea
  6. The Incredible Now
  7. Hush
  8. Delphi
  9. Tonic

Panikon releases on 26th April, and Static Shores will be performing shows in Bristol (20th April) and London (27th April.)