~reviewed by Kevin Filan

There's shiny happy upbeat synthpop and there's hard grinding industrial; not many people work in the spaces in between.  With "Quench," Synthetic Dream Foundation stakes out territory in that cold and foreboding land.  Their music combines the cold metallic machine feel of industrial music with sweet melodic passages, with a result that is chilly but never sterile.   

Unlike industrial music, dissonance is used sparingly here, and always contrasted against a firmly tonal background.   In "Regenerate (Bio-Stasis Mix)", synths weave a high dissonant counterpoint, creating a sense of longing and loss which reminded me of Portuguese Fado sung by a machine, or Coil's "First Five Minutes After Death."   "AngelFire" opens with what sounds like a synthesized digideroo leading into a pretty piano line, while "Torn" brings the piano to the foreground over a faint, ghostly moaning backdrop and "Desolation" closes things with warbling synthesizers trying to cheer an elegaic piano.  The persistent mood of longing and loss is brought about more by absence than presence; in place of emotional histrionics, there's a soft wistful anhedonia.  Instead of the Cure, think of Gary Numan circa "Down in the Park."  

Synthetic Dream Foundation makes frequent use of vocal samples.  Sometimes they prove distracting.  "Gateway" opens with a woman preaching about "Satanic influences in these lyrics."  I'm not sure what this has to do with the instrumental Jan-Hammer-meets-illbient concoction that follows, nor am I quite sure how the 50s hypnotist who opens "Sindustrial Slumber" fits into things.  "The Procedure" is more successful, with a woman moaning in what might be torture or orgasm providing the backbone for sinister mechanical sounds brooding in a slow factory lockstep.  

There's an intense feeling of tension and dread throughout much of this CD.  I kept waiting for "Scaring the Flowers" to explode into screaming and power chords but it never did.  For the most part things stayed slow, harnessing the power of understatement.  Only "Silicon Lifeforms," a fascinating Drum & Industrial experiment, moves at an uptempo pace; it also features lots of speaker-to-speaker mixing and dubbing, which may remind you of psytrance or Pink Floyd, depending on your age bracket.  

I'm generally not a fan of synthesizer bands, particularly those given to Ye Olde Painfully Obvious Cliches.  Thankfully, Synthetic Dream Foundation avoids those perils.  This is a well-constructed and tuneful CD, which shows solid technical chops combined with a willingness to transcend genres and think outside the box.  Highly recommended.   

1) Sindustrial Slumber
2) Scaring the Flowers
3) Regenerate (Bio-Stasis Mix) 
4) AngelFire
5) The Procedure
6) Gateway
7) Silicon Lifeforms
8) Torn (further mix)
9) Desolation

Synthetic Dream Foundation on