7.25.2148 by Makeup and Vanity Set (Review)

With 7.25.2148, Makeup and Vanity Set have crafted a darkly beautiful synthesizer journey.

Much of Makeup and Vanity Set’s 7.25.2148 delves into the same sort of “dreamwave” territory that Perturbator and the Aphasia Records crew explores, i.e., retro-synthesizer tunes that conjure up old, dusty, and long-forgotten VHS sci-fi and horror movies from the ’80s. Which, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing. Indeed, Makeup and Vanity Set’s take on the genre packs a bit of a harder, darker edge, and as a track like “Praxis” shows, you can even bob your head to it. However, 7.25.2148’s opening track is something else entirely.

While “An Infinite Horizon” is cut from the same cloth as the rest of the EP, with arpeggiated synthesizers filtered through several layers of musical nostalgia, the song adopts a more somber and atmospheric tone as befitting its name. As the synths unfold and flutter and echo around, the song moves beyond a mere “retro” exercise, and ultimately evokes a pensive, contemplative emotional response that I don’t normally associate with the “dreamwave” genre.

On their blog, Makeup and Vanity Set explained that the EP’s primary theme was death:

With the EP, I had in mind this concept that had lots to do with the fact that I was losing someone close to me and it was very personal and difficult and when it finally came to be that they were gone forever, everything became much different.

While all of 7.25.2148’s songs are dark, this sense of loss and mortality manifests itself most clearly on “An Infinite Horizon”. It’s a melancholy and foreboding song, one that seems to be constantly on the verge of falling away into the void. And yet, its precarious existence allows it to shine forth with fragile beauty, sending forth some small rays of light and hope to puncture the darkness.

Makeup and Vanity Set are currently recording a double concept album about “death and technology and function and failure.” The group’s harder-edged material will no doubt provide a solid soundtrack for such things, but I hope the new album also contains some contemplative moments à la “An Infinite Horizon”. Such moments may not be as “intense” but sometimes, they allow darker, more harrowing concepts and ideas (e.g., death et al.) to be realized with greater clarity and urgency.

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