Unbound creativity with Machines always win - Runner

This track comes to us from the mind of Lance Ferguson, an artist whose reputation is firmly established as a key component of Melbourne based act, The Bamboos. Not that being aware of the connection provides much context for this song, considering how much of a departure it shows from the funk and soul style The Bamboos is so proficient at producing. Instead this sound is a result of Ferguson’s side project, ‘Machines Always Win’.

This newer venture takes a more experimental look into genres like Synthwave, Downtempo, Minimal electronic and Ambient. The eponymous ‘Runner’ leads a full length album which seems to really revel in what for Ferguson is perhaps less frequented territory.

‘Runner’ certainly leans into warm, widescreen waves of synth, though the elements of percussion are left generally untouched and organic. The track avoids any sense of aggression or over complication, instead focusing in on carefully selected layers then giving those elements room to expand and grow. The atmosphere created is liberated and laidback, with drum beats that help drive the track but never go so far as to pressure the rhythm. ‘Runner’ feels like an exercise in freedom.

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Sophomore's 'Ghost Rider' will have you on the edge of your seat

While most online content creators struggle to find copyright-friendly music to add to videos, Sophomore, almost in defiance of DRM algorithms, takes the opposite approach: he searches far and wide for obscure video, from Canada’s National Film Board archives to police dashcam footage, to augment his analogue synth dreamscapes.

In ‘Ghost Rider’, we ride shotgun for a high-speed car chase in gloriously vintage fashion that can’t help but call to mind the sounds of College and Cliff Martinez in Nicolas Winding Refn’s film Drive, or The Reds in Michael Mann’s Manhunter. Sophomore’s relaxed drum machine rhythms, blissed out arpeggios, and booming, cinematic pads would fit right at home with Italians Do It Better’s faux film score releases, but he does one better by setting the narrative scene himself with a car chase that looks like it could have happened right on the highway nearest to your own home. Despite leveraging an aesthetic sound palette that is no doubt familiar by now to us all, the cumulative effect is as entrancing as it is unique.

If you liked Ghost Rider, check out Sophomore’s other original compositions set to video on his YouTube channel or follow him on Soundcloud.

— review by autonomy