Memory Smoker is a noise project from Alex, Ben, Jeremy, and Luke comprised of synth sounds and horror soundtrack stings. Besides Synth Eternal, they’ve got a couple of other releases under their belt, but this one is their newest release. Based on the track titles alone, it’s pretty apparent what this 60-minute cassette will offer – synth-based worship of the sound effects and chaos of slasher films, ’70s and ’80s gialli, and a repetitive reference to goblins.
The tracks on Synth Eternal may sound like they’d fit perfectly in a film’s repertoire of sounds, but as a whole they’re more abrasive than what one might find from, say, John Carpenter’s Lost Themes. There are hints of rhythmic playing, but Memory Smoker never delve into what would be considered a traditional song; rather, the collection reminds of early Wolf Eyes, working within the spectrum of rhythm and recognizable synth elements without actually creating an easy riff to follow.
The bulk of Synth Eternal tends to blend together into side-long affairs despite the separation of tracks listed on the tape’s J-card, but Memory Smoker work in a number of memorable instances. Their works are often droning, using synth sustains to create a sense of dread while other members add effects to the sonic onslaught: a ticking, a warbling, sometimes the yowling of a cat. At times, the group does seize control of a pulsating riff and run with it, but mostly their compositions involve skillful noisicianship that combines their elements into an effective amalgamation that can often be particularly tense.
That suspense progresses throughout the tape, too, especially on Side B’s opening traack “Goblin Whale Hunt.” An uncomfortably high series of notes accompanies a pulsating bass and multiple anguished vocals, crafting a perfect representation of audial horror. This is a high compliment, that Memory Smoker is able to create such dread-drenched noise.
Synth Eternal is a solid cassette, one of those releases that makes me nostalgic for my early days of noise listening; sonic soundscapes like these got me into the genre in the first place, and it’s good to see new groups adopting the sound – with their own additions – to make some harrowing material. Synth Eternal is just that, and it’s a great listen to give yourself the creeps during a night alone.