BRIAN BENNETT / ALAN HAWKSHAW
The “vivid contemporary sounds for a fresh visual image” make up the now canonised Synthesis from Alan Hawkshaw and Brian Bennett. These two greats go deeper than usual on this collection, and the end result is a synth concept record of sorts. Released in 1974, it’s an essential companion piece to their Synthesizer and Percussion LP, released on Themes International Music in the same year.
Like most of our favourite library records, Synthesis has that gloriously funky, “weird electronic music” vibe without ever being inaccessible. With the awesome ARP Odyssey at the fore, Hawkshaw and Bennett have created a blissed-out soundscape that, whilst laid back in all the right places, somehow remains heavy on the funk. It’s a sort of throbbing, proto-G Funk sound and you can find it on many of these low-lit basement workouts.
Take the ice-cool “Alto Glide”. It’s a sunset-funk highlight with an electro-flute refrain that conjures those dreamier Dre / DJ Quik instrumentals from ’91 to ’92. Stereolab, Koushik (again) and all those Ghost Box artists were clearly listening very closely in the years since. The equally relaxed “Mermaid” glides effortlessly with soft, shimmering piano, understated percussion and kaleidoscopic synths. It’s a really beautiful piece.
With these two soft-focus closing tracks allowing the LP to float away over the horizon, the preceding ten tracks have a more insistent, neck-snapping rhythm section to back the synth overload. Highlights include the head-nod funk of “Getting It Together” and the synth break in “The Executive”, which informed classic video game soundtracks.