Cassette Corner: Proto Nova - "Modern Renaissance Man"

Proto Nova - Modern Renaissance Man
(Hair Growth/Kerchow 2014)

Maybe it's just the fact that I've been on a Depeche Mode/Pet Shop Boys fix lately, but I feel like Proto Nova's debut EP could easily be titled The Best Synth Pop Jams of the 80s. With cozy production and spacious minimal-wave instrumentation, each song on Modern Renaissance Man plays like the product of a one-hit wonder, buoyant synth pulses floating over flickering hi-hats and shuffling snares. Each of these tunes, however, comes from a single source, making the effort as a whole all the more impressive. "Beautiful Person" is the most immediate tune of the bunch; its soaring melodies trudge forward as if they were running in the shallow end of the swimming pool. Proto Nova's vocals are monotone, but delightfully so, their reverb-y residue blending perfectly with the dreamy soundscapes they reside in. "Watch Me Move" is another winner. It's layered with multiple synth loops, each sparse but contributing to a tapestry of nostalgic bliss. It's ultra-remniscent of Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough", very dancey, but still artistically sound. Well suited for cassette, Modern Renaissance Man brings together the experimental and poppy sides of early synthesizer explorations.