DJ Ram is a name that has been appearing with reularity as a remixer on many synthpop releases and this carries over into this, his debut album on A Different Drum. It seems that this remixing qork has gained him a lot of friends/contacts in the synthpop world, many of whom show up to add their vocal talents to Ram's solid dancey tracks.
In most cases, the tracks don't veer too far away from modern synthpop styles so the vocalists would have found themselves pretty much at home. This is demonstrated by Chrissy Franklin of System 22 and The Echoing Green, the former band inhabiting much the same area as this project. Her vocals on "Fallen", a track that could have been lifted from any Ibiza sampler and her wordless vocals that add an ethereal touch to "Save Me" (with Voice Industrie's Alan Levesque) show a versatile voice at work. The opening "You Feel The Same" likewise bridges the gap between the two styles with Neuropa's Jason Last adding his voice.
A number of faces from the US synthpop fraternity lend their vocal talents on this album, including Nathaniell Nicholl of B! Machine on the trip-hop of "A Voice" while Brave New World's Charlie Wollberg does the honours on "Divide" and "Love Is Only" which moves through an effective sequential mesh and Fade To Grey's Tim Cramer adds his talents to "Face To Face".
Representing the Europeans we have Beborn Beton's Stefan Netschio whose more laconic vocals compliment "Divide", an excellent piece that evolves from it's ambient beginnings into a biting example of dancey synthpop and the slower but still powerful "Wide Awake", a most excellent piece that shows Ram finding just the right vocalist for the track, a talent that bears further fruit with No Comment frontlady Franziska Kalb's echoed vocals that perfectly compliment the trancey "Hyperspace". Blue October's Ross Carter does a similar job on "Wall Of Sound" while Carpe Diem's Phillip Noijean adds a plantive touch to "Bullet".
And as if that wasn't enough, the limited edition double provides an extra helping, mainly remixes that maintain and in some cases, increase the dance quotient with a number of names probably unfamiliar to synthpop fans making their mark, including Baby Max, who turn in a workman-like electronica-styled mix of A Voice" and a good mix of "Why (Would I). The trancey mix of "You Feel The Same" by Cyclone-B (a promising Polsih EBM band) and the Drum and Bass effects that herald Technoman's mix of "Divide" help to ensure all modern synth realms are dealt with.
Also worthy of note is the superb remix of "Wide Awake", a cool laidback piece although the guitars do add some grit. Phraze's mix of "Divide' also has strong trance elements although the vocodered vocals do give synthpop the upper hand.
Also included are two original tracks, including "Hourglass", a classically-tinged piece of analogue synthpop featuring Patrick O'Connor of Axoe and the excellent eponymous instrumental which benefits from dramatic chords and solid rhythms.
So if you want synthpop you can dance to or dance music you can listen to then this is the album for you, the superb fusion of these styles meaning everyone's a winner.
Artist Link: http://www.virtualserver.cd