Italian duo Syrian’s 2013 LP Death of a Sun was an astonishing effort on several levels. Using their established futurepop sound as a jumping off point, the Italian duo made what was for all intents and purposes a straight up italo disco record, and a terrifically catchy and fun one at that. Their new record Sirius Interstellar swings back the other way somewhat with a more composite sound that, while not entirely successful, demonstrates their dedication to finding new ways to approach electronic dance music.
At its best Sirius Interstellar finds the sweet spot between the trance-inflected style that first defined them and cosmic disco. “Distance” serves both masters well, with an insistent bassline, vocoded vocal on the verse and a soaring and plaintive chorus, all speaking to the melodic and melancholic similarities the genres they’re working with share. Opener “We Are Stars” uses deep arp filtering and and a lovely sing-songy build that invokes the intense build and ecstatic release of so many genres of European electronic dance music. Later in the record “Underwater” uses a lovely female vocal and a bubbly arrangement of sweeps and pads, recalling NRG and even eurodance to pleasing effect.
Not every attempt at hybridization and homage proves to be as fruitful however. “Close Your Eyes” shoots for thumping hardstyle with a wall of buzzing bass and stacked synth leads, but lacks charm in terms of arrangement and melody. “Hyperdrive” has some crossover trance bounce and movement in its rhythm programming, but as an instrumental it feels unfinished, like the band wrote some good loops, strung them together and called it a day. They aren’t bad songs necessarily, but their flaws are glaring when placed in the context of the more ambitious and effective songs that surround them.
Syrian’s ambitions are certainly worth applauding on Sirius Interstellar, treading on new ground as readily as territory they’ve already demonstrated their skill in. It’s an uneven record to be sure – an issue exacerbated by its brief length – but still worthy of kudos; as always when Syrian stick the landing, they’re a unique quantity within the vast boundaries of Our Thing.