Various Artists
"Synth City"

(Synesthesia 2003)

Live performances spliced with a fashion show and edited to add distortion and artistic effects, the Synth City DVD undoubtedly provides an interesting and fun watching experience. The DVD showcases six bands, Feed The Machine (on Ghostly records and recently changed their name to KillMemoryCrash), Venue (on SYNE.), Avenue D (on Rough Trade), Soviet, A.R.E. Weapons (on Rough Trade), and Green Velvet (on Relief). Not only offering live performances, the DVD also includes a "stills gallery" with flyers, live photographs and information on the bands and Synth City.

The monotone, deep tonal buzzing of "Inside The Box" by Feed the Machine provides a seamless and painless intro. With Venue's catchy "Moving To NY," the viewer is immersed in the atmosphere of the band's live performance as lights flash in time to the electronic buzzes. Avenue D steal your attention with their skimpy, fluorescent colored outfits and song, "Slut." The band's two members essentially converse on stage, their lyrics dripping with sarcasm. Lines like "You know, maybe it's these outfits we wear/I can see your boobies" and "Shit, I like your Daisy Dukes/They're real classy" stand out as does the chorus of "Do I look like a slut?/'Uh huh.'/Shut up!"

Stepping back to a, vaguely, Depeche Mode sound, Soviet's "Commute" has airy vocals over a twinkling background. The opening of "Black Mercedes" by A.R.E. Weapons has a digital hardcore feel but then softens to quiet pulses. Sounding the most industrial, the song also uses interspersed car crash sounds. The footage, however, doesn't seem to match up and is confusing at first; while men are singing and playing guitars on stage you hear no vocals or anything that would match what you see. When vocals do start in, they are quiet and an odd match for the video. Closing the DVD with possibly the song most likely to be heard at a club (which is a difficult label to give considering the company the DVD keeps), "Genedefekt" by Green Velvet is a catchy, repetitive tune with a racing pulse that could almost be mistaken for Morse code.

The only major low point of the DVD is the audio. At random intervals the CD quality music will cut, instead, to the live performance. The live performance recording, however, is very low quality in comparison to the prerecorded audio and makes the vocals essentially inaudible and the music murky and distant. While a good idea, the cuts don't seem to transition well enough. But those moments are, luckily, few in the 20 minutes of live footage that close with a weird cover of the Growing Pains' theme over the credits.

B+