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Liteware by FM Skyline Album Review

This was written by gbanas92 from Private suite Mag (Now defunct Vaporwave Magazine)

An FM Skyline release is always a source of excitement. Be it a classic like EarthSim, or last summer's brilliant Advanced Memory Suite, FM Skyline has a tendency to churn out computer-generated gold. So how do you follow up something like that? How far do you keep pushing? What's waiting on the other side? It turns out the answer is but one word: Liteware. The 2nd FM Skyline release to grace vaporwave juggernaut label 100% Electronica, Liteware is every bit the worthy follow up to last summer's treasure of a release. Grab a cool drink, sit back, and let the synthetic, tropical vibes of FM Skyline whisk you away to a marvelous sea of simulation.

The delightfully sunny tones of the album surface immediately, as the opening track "Paradise Neon" lives up to its name; a bright and sunny introduction to the ecstasy that is Liteware. Light hints of woodwinds flit in and out of this opening track, before heading onwards to "Glass Beaches". Even without knowing the name of the track, it feels like something that would play over footage of, you guessed it, a beach. This album does an extraordinary job of pairing the tracks with a tangible location, and the trend continues on the third track, "Crystal River", which takes you from the outskirts of that heavenly beach right into the waves. The underlying tones of the track deliver a nice aquatic vibe, before peeling back to land with "Polygon Park", the track with the most front and center drums on the release, which allows the track to charge full-steam ahead into whatever secrets hide around the next corner.

And as it turns out, things continue on that more "in-your-face" trend, as the middle portion of release is the most energetic. If the first act of the album is a warm-up, the second is a brisk workout. This is most obvious in the track "Acrylic Jungle" which has a bizarre drum beat that is nigh impossible to get comfortable with. Just when you think you have the groove of the song pegged, it changes things up, constantly keeping you off-balance right up until the most balanced song on the album, "Marble Madness." Whimsical arpeggiated synths pair here with a full speed ahead drum beat that helps to make an excellent counterpoint to the previous track. The steady rhythm contrasts with the unpredictable staccato of the previous one, and the synths in particular help to smooth over the transition, making something that might normally be jarring work exceptionally well.

The next track, "Kallisto", starts to wind everything down, offering up a relaxing, meandering soundscape of shimmering tones with a tempo more akin to a lullaby. All aspects of the song work in tandem to craft a stunningly relaxing track. This seamlessly blends into yet another calming piece in "Mirror Gallery" which introduces some killer saxophones to the album, while retaining a similar drum beat to its forebear. The penultimate track, appropriately titled "Shadows" slows things down even further, effectively turning off all the lights of the beach town you've seemingly been transported to while listening to this album. It's not quite the dead of night yet, but things are starting to close up, and all the late nighters are starting to head home. But not before one last track to act as a cordial. "Endless Sky" closes things off, with a leisurely paced, though inspiringly optimistic track full of winding synths and one last return of that full steam ahead drum beat. Sure, maybe this night is over, but think about all the wonder that awaits you in the new dawn.

Liteware released May 1st via 100% Electronica if you want to check it out for yourself !
View: https://fmskyline100p.bandcamp.com/album/liteware

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