Synthetic Memories

Justin Vanderberg

Synthetic Memories


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About Synthetic Memories


1   From Below

2   When I Walk

3   Synthetic Memories

4   67

5   The Path

6   Dusk

7   Drops

8   Cold Brightness

Synthetic Memories, Justin Vanderberg’s debut release on the Spotted Peccary label, delivers eight deeply moving and contemplative tracks of pure wonder, where pulsing electronics, billowing synth textures and rich ambient spaces are perfectly blended into a heartfelt and profoundly introspective musical experience.

Vanderberg’s ability to infuse purely electronic compositions with such a personal and thought provoking warmth underscores the notion behind Synthetic Memories – the idea of questioning the reality of memories. As Vanderberg puts it, ‘Ask yourself to define your reality, and you will most likely rely upon your memories to construct the story of you. However, what you think is true, may not be. And what you think cannot be true, very well could be. ‘ That feeling of searching and inner reflection is perfectly communicated in Vanderberg’s music; a credit to his skill as an artist.

Synthetic Memories has much to offer fans of electronic ambient, from the title track which pays homage to the Masters of the sequencer, to the deeper ambient spaces of tracks like ‘67 ‘ ‘Dusk ‘ and ‘Cold Brightness, ‘ to the perfectly placed piano of ‘The Path ‘ and ‘Drops, ‘ to the driving and powerful opening track, a collaboration with Jon Jenkins entitled ‘From Below. ‘ With Synthetic Memories, Justin Vanderberg has crafted a meaningful and personal album that will not soon be forgotten.


Composer Vanderberg's second album is a delightful and wistful collection of deep ambient electronic sounds that gently ebb and flow in a relaxing manner. It's an ambient album with depth and clarity, combining the best of modern electronics with a timeless, Eno-esque quality that works equally as well as background listening or immersive contemplation.

‘When I Walk’ is a droning, meditational piece with celestial inclinations, while the title track brings a gorgeous collage of serene strings alongside percolating sequencers, like classic Vidna Obmana meeting Vangelis somehow. This is a standout, being simultaneously majestic and mysterious. ‘The Path’ ushers in a heavy rolling rhythm of an almost trip-hop or industrial nature, which works well alongside the crystalline strings.’Dusk’ shows a hint of darkness around the edges, but remains true to the album's gentle overall vibe. ‘Synthetic Memories’ is a superb work from a composer I'll be curious to hear more from.

- Todd Zachritz, Goatsdinner

Synthetic Memories (64'49’) casts such a strong spell that while listening to it the world outside may seem to go away. On this his second CD Justin Vanderberg continues to explore his musical vision. Synthetic Memories possesses the drama of works by Patrick O'Hearn along with the thoughtful textural atmosphere found on many Steve Roach albums, yet Vanderberg manages to forge his own distinctive authorial voice. The opening track sets an interesting tone. With its breathing drones and tribal drumming we settle in for an interesting and diverse aural adventure. Evenly spaced notes form lilting heady melodies while gentle sequencer progressions and hymn-like harmonies move each piece at an observable pace. The eight tracks on Synthetic Memories lead us each to our own personal vague mental picture - all the while impressing us with their polished sonic values. From synthetic grandiosity to cerebral reflection this music dances delicately on the line between new age and spacemusic. This work has lasting reverberations.

- Chuck van Zyl, STAR'S END

On his first release since his 2007 debut, In Waking Moments, Justin Vanderberg ushers his listeners through gossamer-winged ambient drifts and homages to the ‘masters of the sequencer’ who inspired his own musical explorations. Vanderberg’s modus is to craft drifts that are as substantial as a cloud–airy, high whispers of chord–and layer them into rich, calming musical breaths. Over these he places minimal touches of more concrete sound. Take the deep flow of ‘67,’ for example, where a pair of notes patiently rise and descend in a simple call-and-response match across the expanse of lower-note pads. Or the graceful ‘Drops,’which Vanderberg accents with rain-glistened piano notes and a light touch of twirling flute. Vanderberg’s comparatively uptempo pieces work well, too, although ‘uptempo’ might be too strong a word for these rhythmically laid-back songs. ‘From Below,’ where Vanderberg is ably assisted by Spotted Peccary head Jon Jenkins, kicks the disc off in gear with a steady, borderline-tribal drum line that pulses through a rising narrative. Jenkins’ presence here, musically and as co-composer, definitely calls to mind the cinematic sound that’s the signature of his work with David Helpling, but does so without over-riding Vanderberg. ‘The Path’ brings keys and light hand percussion to play with the washes in a mix that will likely set the toes tapping. The title track is a classic sequencer piece, squared-off math constructs pinging and bouncing in a mix of rhythmic permutations. A distinct homage without just sounding fawnish. Synthetic Memories is a very soft disc overall, which lets the punchier elements, the twitching sequencer lines and percussion, pop just a bit more–but never to the point of taking the light away from the carefully constructed drifts. It’s a great low-volume listen that stands up to scrutiny, and it doesn’t wear out its welcome in repeat plays. Expect to listen to this one often. Synthetic Memories is an excellent and long-overdue return from Justin Vanderberg.

- John Shanahan, Hypnagogue

To me, Justin Vanderberg is a new ambient musician, but the press sheet learned he already released an album back in 2007 called ‘In Waking Moments’.

‘Synthetic Memories’, a concept album upon the idea of questioning the reality of memories, is his second effort. And what a beauty it is: an impressive and thought provoking work of warm, emotive and contemplative textural scapes journeying in worlds of wonder, featuring rich sounding and nicely layered electronics, sequencing and minimal rhythms, altogether building great arcs of cinematic sound.

While the catchy opening track ‘From Below’ (a collaboration with Jon Jenkins) is already breathtaking, the 13-minute title track is a driving sequencer outing, while immersive and deep ambient spaces are explored on ‘67’, ‘Dusk’ and the lingering ‘Cold Brightness’. I was also moved by the mesmerizing and reflective piano meditation ‘Drops’.

Due to the expert mastering and detailed, spacious sound by Howard Givens, Justin’s smooth pulsating synthetic creations touches deeper ground on a personal level: his gentle evolving sonic journeys display the feeling of searching, inner exploration and self-transformation/realization.

The stunning ‘Synthetic Memories’ proves to be an intimate comfort zone, highly recommended if you like Steve Roach, Ti-Cal or Patrick O’Hearn. Congrats on this outcome, Justin!

- Bert Strolenberg, Sonic Immersion

Synthetic Memories ranges from massed textural clouds and layered drones propelled by tribal drumbeats and turbulent tides, via glowing ambient zones of celestial tone beaded with smooth sequencer patterns to fragile chime beds swimming in softly shifting synthetic pools. The opening piece From Below is a collaboration with kindred spirit Jon Jenkins: lush and expansive, this evolving piece fades out of silence in unhurried luxuriance, thumping drums and dense grey noise slowly unfolding to reveal a pleasant repeating motif which further expands into beautiful piano harmonies. The piece swells to a massive crescendo of almost orchestral grandeur before ebbing away to the nothingness from whence it arose. In contrast, some other pieces retain a much more 'steady state' structure, or like Dusk develop an amorphous beatless nature the only rhythm arising from a regular tidal surging. Drops is well named: measured piano scales with tinkling embellishments flowing into a lake of rippling flute and smooth synth tones.

Synthetic Memories is a crisp matt-finish digipack presentation of two gatefold panels. The front cover displays an alien landscape with a ragged thread of figures dotting a path to stand atop a curving summit beneath a brooding sky. The rear cover homes in on the sky: here a positively tenebrous cloudscape appears to fracture and splash open with brassy light. Track titles with associated running times form a simple column to the left. Inside there is a solarised repeat of the cover image throwing the shadowy figures into metallic brightness. This backdrop supports credits and thanks to the left and a paragraph of reflections on the album title to the right. No plastic: just a simple card wallet with the disc

US Ohio based electronic musician Justin Vanderberg releases his first full length album since his 2007 debut In Waking Moments. Delivered this time via Spotted Peccary Records, Vanderberg presents a varied exploration of ambient harmony and sequencer driven electronica across eight mid-length compositions. Ranging from the delicate and relatively fleeting four minute nine When I Walk through to the burbling thirteen minute seven title track, Synthetic Memories demonstrates a bold and confident unity of vision. The artist explains ‘A synthetic memory stems from the safety of our perceived reality vs the fear of our individual truth. Ask yourself to define your reality, and you will most likely rely upon your memories to construct the story of you. However, what you think is true, may not be. And what you think cannot be true, very well could be.’

- Paul Jury, Morpheus Music

Released in November 2011 as Justin Vanderberg's debut on Spotted Peccary label and follow-up to his premiere album "In Waking Moments", released back in 2007 on Hypnos Secret Sounds. While "In Waking Moments" album was strongly focused on deeper, tranquil ambience enriched by fine Timeroom fragrances, "Synthetic Memories" shift towards traditional, warmly inviting cinematic sound of Spotted Peccary family. The opening composition, clocking to 9 and half minutes, "From Below", on which Justin is joined by his label mate Jon Jenkins, perfectly portrays this hauntingly sublime fusion of pristine chill-out melodies and serenely floating organic washes, all amazingly harmonized and wrapped by emotionally moving soundtrack-like arrangements. A really catchy intro I must say, even if holding stronger signature of Jon's collaborations with David Helpling. "When I Walk" dives into deeper, expansive atmospheric realms, charmingly colored by ethereally expressive piano. Elegantly gentle melodies return on "Synthetic Memories", a 13-minute title track, and are freshly blended with swiftly sequenced patterns and tranquil atmozones. Some sharper crystalline effects add a bit of cybernetic feel. "67" is deeply visualizing texture, tranquilly and graciously floating. "The Path" is invaded by strange effects and hisses, which quite disturbingly color strongly imaginative piano lead and washes. But razor-sharp tribal grooves join the stage along with other highly distinctive sounds for absolutely exciting show. A truly fascinating mixture of high-tech beats and evocative soundscapes, stunningly beautiful and mesmerizingly effective!!! "Dusk" enters panoramic desert vastness with spiraling drifts roaming over these vast open territories and recalling the ghosts of Timeroom. This is another side of Justin Vanderberg's artistry, presenting his soundscaping at its most expansive and immersing. Another highlight on this journey!!! "Drops" are truly heartwarming, nicely fragranced with modern classical-infused piano, quite minimal, but strongly imaginative. The closing, 9 minutes long "Cold Brightness", is more dreamy, pastoral texture with tenderly tinkling bells, slowly progressing through slightly more massive, droning paths. A nicely fitting finale of these "Synthetic Memories"!!! Justin Vanderberg, in US, Ohio based artist, definitely deserves his place among the Spotted Peccary team roster. "Synthetic Memories" are electrifyingly colorful, yet complexly constructed and skillfully executed, including elegant 4-panel disc eco wallet packaging.

- Richard Guertler, Relaxed Machinery

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