Review: Dark Model – Saga EP



New York’s Dark Model (Tetsuya Oe) has the distinction of being a producer in beat-oriented, electronic music. The second album “Saga” follows its predecessor in the style of progressive, dramatic electronica.

The lead track of the album “Survivors” is reminiscent of an epic, progressive anime theme. For instance, “Survivors” reminded me of an opening for the Legend of Zelda, which doesn’t surprise me because Oe’s work has appeared in numerous advertising campaigns such as Xbox’s “Forza Motorsport 5”. Tetsuya’s roots in Hiroshima, Japan revealed itself prominently in this track as there is a great deal of traditional Japanese instrumentals woven delicately into “Survivors”.

Despite the prominent Japanese influence woven into this lead track, the melody sounds extremely disjointed. The electronic bass is too arresting and upfront. Moreover, the violins sound awfully electronic which suggests that it is not the genuine instrument, but instead the sound is actually done with a synthesizer. The purpose of electronica is for the artist to experiment with different sounds, however, “Survivors” sounds too artificial and crowded. Oe tried to pack too much into a song and it ended up sounding chaotic. The first listen made me think that it was definitely not an actual orchestra which produced this strange mix of instrumentals. I can sense a desperation from the Oe to make the sound as exciting as possible for his listeners. As a result, all of these prominent instrumentals confront one another which creates an immense distraction for listeners instead of a harmonized beat.

Moreover, the song’s production sounded dry (in a sense chalky) because of the apparent lack of effects in the music. In “Survivors”, there is a lack of reverb which makes the song “sound extremely close to the audience” when the audience is listening to it. The song has an “in your face” quality, which is not necessarily a positive when music should be harmonized to an easy listen. The beat would have sounded substantially more powerful if the snare at the beginning was not so prominent. As a result of this prominence in the snare drum, it made the song sound more fuzzy than tight.

The second lead track of Saga, “Storm Goddess” fairs a little better in terms of the input of technical elements. For instance, the song sounds tighter than “Survivors”, the snare isn’t as prominent, and the melody is clearer. The blending of these elements is better than “Survivors”. Oe tries to follow the actual placement of the instruments in an orchestra during the production process. An instance of this is when he trumpets solo starts further back than the violins and drums, which creates the illusion of an actual orchestra. However, at around the 2:50 mark, there is a disagreeable key change, which doesn’t mesh well with the overall aesthetic of the song. “Storm Goddess” is still a disjointed effort on Oe’s part because there is a clash of instrumentals and questionable transitions between the different sections of the song. The indiscernible background instrument does not help the composition of this disjointed effort either because it fails to give listeners a break. Unfortunately, Saga does not possess much to engage the listener’s heart and soul.

Further Listening: In Uchronia, Valentin Wiest