As a new wave and synth music enthusiast, I couldn’t help but feel captivated after seeing Taipei, Taiwan’s Dronetonics (Lars Berry and Crystal Shien) perform a short set at the now defunct music venue Shelter in 2012. The setting was stoic, and the delivery was ice cold — transporting the audience into what felt like a different era. The re-emergence of such analog music trends have helped shape bands such as Dronetonics, who are eager to emanate vintage sounds using their own modern dialogue. This duo successfully channels the cool attitudes of Cold Wave, the catchy quirks of synth pop, and the pulsing beats of drum machine-driven tunes in their forthcoming album.
After a year of meticulous crafting, Dronetonics’ first full-length album Sentiments will be released this summer on Taiwan’s 22Records. They will share the label with more hardcore and screamo influenced bands such as, 人HUMAN BEINGS and the Japanese bands, saisa and INFOREST with whom the duo recently completed a domestic tour.
The album has a powerful start with the undeniably dance-y song, In Response, which pulls the listener in and keeps us curiously waiting for the remainder of the album to unfold. Filled with intriguing lyrics and shattering beats, In Response is sure to be the earworm of the summer. Other such highlights from the album include Outside and the record’s unforgettable and dramatic closing with Continents of Ice.
Sentiments is also scattered with the emotionally chilling, yet droney songs such as Cherry Lawns, Six Months, and File Under Youth. This diversity in music styles shows the duo’s ability to explore and test the limits that their instruments and voices can produce.
The album has been produced with subtle layers of build-ups and reverbs that can even be felt in their live performances. Their songs, which were beautifully mastered by Cam Scherman, feature shared vocal responsibilities that balance both Shien’s sharper and Berry’s deeper tones.
The release of Sentiments has inspired the band to collaborate with other creative forces in Taipei to produce music videos for songs such as, City Dissolve. The imagery is a stunning visual interpretation of the song and was thoughtfully constructed by digital artist Awe Ix (Chris Owens). As well, the album’s scratchboard artwork was completed by artist Ann Chang and recalls the gritty and minimal DIY artwork of the early 80s.
The band is already feverishly working on new material for a second album. We can only expect Dronetonics to continue their foray into synth-driven pop and further develop their retro-futuristic sound.