Lush, crystalline and deep, the new project from Phono Ghosts and Sferro, Hyperlink Dream Sync draws deep from the sound and aesthetics of the 1990s and gives us a tantalizing glimpse into the world of Windows 95, CRT monitors, cream-coloured home computers, Pokemon, Tamagotchi and the rise of the supermodels.
The brains behind this new project are established in their own rights; Phono Ghosts has been the master of dreamy electronic textures and curved funk for several years now and Sferro is currently one of the most respected purveyors of retrowave and futuresynth out there. They have collaborated before, notably on the EP Alive in the Timeless Void, to huge success and no small acclaim but that was under their respective monikers, now they have created something different, something shiny and new.
Together they invite you into their cosmic lounge of cinematic easy-electronica.
Opener Loyalty To Tech is clearly a new and glistening sound the two have conjured; lush and cinematic, the synths are full of washed layers and deeply swirling pools of sound underpinned by a mellow and funk-edged bass.
Gold Dust Station is reminiscent of late eighties/early nineties Tangerine Dream, with a subtle rock groove locked into the languid beats and happy, upbeat sequences.
Christy continues this optimistic and forward-looking aesthetic with perky percussion and sweetly melodic synth trills. The tracks are becoming gradually spacier as we move forwards, allowing the keyboards, bass and beats time to breath and move in unison.
Neil Scrivin (Phono Ghosts) explains the ethos behind HDS,
Although it has its roots in the Phono Ghosts and Sferro collab Alive in the Timeless Void we wanted to do something new and separate from that, without the baggage of our individual aliases. Like with Void we worked in a similar way, swapping audio stems online. Eric is a great ideas man, and all of the tracks started life as his demos, which I then completed with my parts, production and arrangements. So it’s very much a 50/50 two stage process we have which I think works really well.
This long-distance way of working has been hugely successful in the past and has once again produced an album that blends their strengths perfectly and if you listen carefully you can hear their distinctive sounds overlapping and complimenting each other.
We didn’t want this to be a second Phono Ghosts and Sferro release, though. We both felt that this was a new project right from the start, with its own distinct persona. Aesthetically, it’s very much channeling that 90s period of technological optimism laced with naivety. The name Hyperlink Dream Sync is a reference to this, and to our long-distance collaborative method. There is a nostalgia to it, but it’s totally naturally occurring in us. The sound developed very intuitively, and quickly. We finished the album in just a few months.
By now we are locked-into the groove of smart, hip, machine sounds which glide effortlessly through sunny jet streams, with all the neon glow and crazy rush a game of wipE′out” could muster.
Mirror the Eagle is Hyperlink Dream Sync moving into more cosmic territories. Dreamy synth textures abound and it is really easy to lose yourself in the lush and velvety melodies.
Title track Hyperlink Dream Sync showcases all the melodies and hooks Phono Ghosts and Sferro are so adept at weaving, harkening back to their solo projects.
The motorik pulse of Carrington Institute takes us into slightly darker territory as we move towards the dénouement.
Cathedral of Blue is a deep soul groover with it’s gorgeous passages of melody and counterpoint synths.
Galaxy Structure closes out with a warm and calm embrace, stretching notes to the horizon and moving us with the dreamiest beats.
Hyperlink Dream Sync is a stunning album of moods, patterns and textures, some bordering on cosmic lounge. Sferro and Phono Ghosts have taken their blueprint for perfect 80s futuresynth and transposed it into the 90s where everything is coated in the optimism and naivety of that decade.
Once again these are the artists who are pushing the limits of the genre, going beyond what has gone before and forging their own, new retro-future. I’ve seen and heard the 90s and they are preserved right here, suspended within the Hyperlink Dream Sync stasis field. Hyperlink Dream Sync is out now on Business Casual, available on cassette and digital download.
On a Different Note:
- Review: Phono Ghosts – Warm Pad, Sharp Stab
- Review // Sferro – Emotion Engine
- 2020 in Review // Albums of Comfort by Dan Kletter
- Blog Archives // January 2021 (Pt. 6)
- Review // Kieran Mahon – Eternal Return