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Get Back in Time with Jack Maniak’s Code 403 - Music Review

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Jack Maniak Coce 403 - Music Review

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This is a landscape of ash. Dark sunrises and even darker sunsets await those who venture out into this toxic wasteland. Some occupants, too poor to afford the rent as an off-lander, have no choice but to wander below as ravagers with breathing apparatuses covering their mouths and noses. No sand should ever get in through the cracks; even if that means using electrical tape to keep the gear fastened.

And these survivors must be vigilante at night with the cleanings of their breathing machines. Their survival depends on it.

They are the forgotten. Either by the harsh elements that have eroded the natural resources or by the marauders who take what has yet to be erased by the weather, they are made victims; broken by sheer dumb luck and theirs, as a young hero will emerge from the shadows in their lives to face an unforeseen alien invasion, is the story worth hearing.

Because Jack Maniak, a teenager with special abilities, is coming…


 

Jack Maniak Coce 403 - Music Review

Great Scott!

When it comes to inspired synthwave producers, Jack Maniak’s brilliant riffs and rhythms almost at once launch him into the stratosphere. His music and production knowhow is completely ON FIRE here. Seriously. Have any doubts? Go to track seven on Code 403, “Space Invaders”, and get the headphones ready for the melting of your brains to commence.

And “Space Invaders” is just a tiny sampling of the quality this sensational album has in store for its listeners. French musician Jean-Philippe Ouamer, the man behind Jack Maniak’s one-man engine, has created something dynamically rich (and continuously rewarding) here. Code 403 needs to be added to your collection yesterday. That’s how strong of a debut it is.

"Lean back and see if you don’t get carried away by the delicious electronic grooves he offers here because for the places Jack Maniak is going, roads aren’t needed."


This album doesn’t believe in walls or boundaries. It continues to smooth out the edges where metal and the electronic world meets. For 10 killer tracks, Jack Maniak’s metal-minded definition of synthwave carries us, wait for it, back to the future. It is a world full of desperation and distant landscapes like the one outlined in the imagined opening and, as an added bonus, this one-man project fills our brains with nostalgic tips of the hat to the influential films of our youth.

Bravely enough, this release begins with a big shout out to Joe Dante’s Gremlins. The first track, “Stripe is Back”, is full of melody and carnage as the twisted sounds of Jack Maniak reveal themselves to be both fierce and fulfilling. That’s just a tease, though. With “No Fate” right around the corner, the pulsating beats and kaleidoscopic keys give us reason to run INTO the shadows.

Code 403 is the companion you never knew you needed when the night is at its darkest. Almost a year old – as it was originally released last November – and there is nothing quite like it on the scene.

In my estimation, Synthwave’s future sounds a lot like the songs here and it is never more evident than in the song “Code 403” as Jack Maniak gets our heads nodding and then our bodies moving with the dynamic chord structures layered in and around this song. EDM gets routinely metalicized with this release’s headbanging audio polish. Outrun this, Mofos!

Jack Maniak Coce 403 - Music ReviewThe electronic wash of “Final Departure” gets us completely bathed in the solidly cinematic “feels” of this release. Already we’ve seen reflections of Terminator 2 with the highs of Code 403, but – deep in the layers of this fantastic track – we have a new adventure in the making as Jack Maniak, the teenaged hero of this otherworldly narrative, must make a consequential decision. It is his density, after all.

Dissect this track (or pick another) and you will see the beauty of what Jack Maniak has done with this release; sound upon sound help create a tense atmosphere where, of course, THIS hero steps forth from within. And it starts with rhythm and with a throbbing base line. One feeds the other and vice versa.

But just wait until “Tribal Mob” with its killer synth beginning steps in the ring. Your ass is going to get the thrashing of a lifetime. Complete with droid noises and all sorts of audio manipulations, this track leaves you future aware and future ready for the coming robotic onslaught of all sorts of spaced invaders. Coupled next to “The Guardian”, these two atmospheric tracks have great surprises in store for the world traveler.

But, for me, it is “Space Invaders” that reigns supreme. I could (but won’t) write a novel on why this single track best exemplifies what Jack Maniak is all about. It. Is. Perfect. Soaring all the way to its completion, this is a “greatest hits” track if ever there was one. Lord Vader from the planet Vulcan commands you to prepare yourself accordingly, Earthling.

The Force continues to be strong with this one as the harmonious “Dangerous Night” breaks into the sweltering high of “Sky Demons”, giving a challenge to other synthwave producers, before folding itself into “Glory”, the album’s assuaging closer. The journey as one teenager faces down an oncoming alien threat feels complete as that soaring guitar riff unloads upon us.

Lean back and see if you don’t get carried away by the delicious electronic grooves he offers here because for the places Jack Maniak is going, roads aren’t needed.

With awesome artwork by Julian Gamella and Jet Set Trash Records supporting this release, Code 403 is darksynth for the elevated listener, future boy.

Jack Maniak Coce 403 - Music Review

 


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