Florida-based HOME’s latest LP, Falling Into Place, is a rewarding thing to experience. He destroys the boundaries of synthwave without laying waste to the genre itself.
HOME (AKA Randy Goffe) is clearly inspired by the Valerie Collective side of retrosynth. College’s influence is particularly pronounced — the 15 instrumental cuts are all intricate and intimate 80s retro creations that aren’t overly bogged down by hubris and aren’t too on-the-nose with the retro pastiche.
But this isn’t a College carbon copy, because along the way HOME also taps into the atmospheric, guitar-augmented sounds of Tycho, the hazy lo-fi of Washed Out, and even the quirky playfulness of French pop intelligentsia like Sébastien Tellier and Phoenix.
“Bright Lights in Silent Rooms” is probably the track I’ve listened to the most. The bouncy cut starts off with a percussive clapfest before breaking out into an ethereal Italo number. The mid-tempo dance cut’s spectral synthesizers, reverb-laden clapping, and off-beat rhythm coalesce into a hypnotic piece of work tailor-made for a dance hall built in a cave.
“Night Swim,” another mid-tempo dance number, is where HOME seems to invoke the spirit of Tycho the most. The song offers up a tightly-wound piece of serenity laden with an ecstatic lead guitar that stands tall over the atmosphere.
“Burning” is probably the most 80s-sounding cut on the LP. At the very least, it sounds very much like some unreleased pre-Hysteria Human League club track — albeit warmer and more complex than Philip Oakey and crew were doing at the time.
“Puzzle,” especially when the lead organ line comes in, reminds me of Tellier’s score work. It’s serious but also playful. It’s insular and geeky, but it’s also not averse to letting listeners in on whatever secrets are available. The next time Quentin Dupieux (AKA Mr. Oizo) makes a film, and Tellier is unavailable, he should most certainly hit up Goffe for appropriate ambiance.
Album opener “Head First” features arrangements that strike the listener as the most College-influenced on the album. It has the tempered beauty, a notable color palette, and thoughtful construction that make College’s work so appealing. This cut has guitars, though, which gives the song a funkier flare than what we’re used to hearing from Nantes, France.
On the title track, which closes Falling Into Place, there is a stark wistful quality to it beneath the fuzzy synths and upbeat rhythm track. By the time the cut finishes we’re profoundly happy to have been on this 15-track ride, but its conclusion fills us with a marked sense of loss.
No worries, though. We can always play it again.
Falling Into Place is out now via HOME’s Bandcamp page. He’s selling it for a $1, but you’d be a monster to spend anything less than $10 on this if you have the means.
You will also be able to hear HOME in a guest spot on Syntax’s forthcoming LP, Transmissions, due on March 26 on 30th Floor Records.