This year I had a very nice and spontanious meeting with John von Ahlen (Parralox) in his studio in Melbourne during our vacation in Australia. I had the chance of having a nice talk with this really sympathetic guy, and furthermore he allowed me listen in on some of the new tracks on his album 'Subculture'. What I listened to in September so far was awesome and promising. Now I've got the promo for the upcoming new 'Parralox' album and I'm excited that my high expectations have even been excelled.
Subculture sounds more like pop culture
'Subculture' contains 14 songs with lots of featured artists so the listener is kept caught by the sheer variety of the album. Almost all tracks fit perfectly in the classic Synth Pop genre that I love so much. Everything is represented: from the shallow radio song to the bombastic dance floor hit to the highly emotional ballad.
The cream of the crop
I want to start with my favourite song on the album. This time it's a bit unusual for it is a ballad, that I really enojoyed best: 'A Question Of Love'. The duet between John von Ahlen and Louise Love sounds magical. The song's lyrics touched me very much – it's about an endlessly sad break-up. BTW. I wasn't able to decode the hidden easter egg in the track. If you have any idea just post it in the comments.
Dancing beats everywhere
'Electric Nights' is a powerful and sonically illustrative Electro Pop song. This track is sung by Johanna Gervin and lives easily up to an 80's Kylie Minogue hit in quality and catchiness. Very similar is the following song 'Key To The Door Of Heaven', where Louise Love takes the singing part. The most striking element in this song, however, is the typical 90´s Eurodance piano.
John himself intones 'Change Of Heart'. This superb song reminds me strongly, and is best described as well, of the soundscapes of the current Marsheaux album 'Ath.Lon'. Nevertheless, the song has the unique Parralox sound.
Sweet sadness continues
The song 'Jupiter' starts with echoes of women like out of a 70's sci-fi movie. The song spreads subtly and quietly in the first few seconds in a way that one expects a more serious track. Lyrically sadness and longing drive the song forward. And this fits very well into the mood of the prevailed song 'A Question Of Love' I´ve already mentioned before. I really love this song which embodies the feeling of endless darkness between the stars.
Back in the up-tempo sector
Back onto the sad disco dance floor brings us the track 'Pressure Point'. Again this track is sung in wide parts by Louise Love, and on this point I need to state, I love her heavenly voice. I'm very happy that she appears in almost 50 percent of all songs on 'Subculture'. 'Overdrive' is a bass guitar driven track, which again provides for a nice vary on the album. BTW: The bass guitar is played by Ian Burden (ex The Human League).
'Last Year At Marienbad' is a simple and fantasic Synth Pop song. The song structure is a classic man/woman duet. 'Last Man Standing' comes along pretty catchy as well. This track has defintely the ear worm factor! The songs 'Voyager II' and 'Rocket Science II' were already released last year on 'Holiday 15'. Here you´ll find remixed versions of these originals. In comparsion to them the remixes on 'Subculture' are a bit more Pop-like. I love the remix versions just as much as the originals. Both are grand Synth Pop songs that I can warmly recommend without hesitation to every genre fan.
Live long and prosper
After what felt like a thousand EPs, Remix albums, Megamix albums, and other specials, I'm excited to finally hear a breathtaking new Parralox album again. The album 'Subculture' is strong and fresh, with a touch of 80's nostalgia. The album sounds unbelievably varied by the many guest vocalists. If John von Ahlen had sung 1 or 2 songs more himself, I personally would have been even more euphoric. All in all 'Subculture' is a first class Synth / Electropop album that we strongly recommend to buy.
Personal note to John (from Trekkie to Trekkie): "I hope your 5‑year mission through unknown sound landscapes will continue for several decades. Next stop: "70s Space Age meets 80s Synth Pop" concept album? Until then, live long and prosper. Yours, Tom and Vera."