Bending Grid – ‘Parallax’

Parallax is a gripping double album from electronic artist Bending Grid, impressing across both lush, spacey atmospheric builds and infectious electro-pop stompers. A fondness for ’80s nostalgia is on audible display alongside synthwave-forward soundscapes, further complemented by a talented array of collaborators. Ten featured artists and four additional collaborators appear across the album’s twenty tracks, melding futuristic thematic pursuits with hook-ready dazzling; the result is a poignant portrayal of a potential future, where distinguishing human emotion may become clouded by technological innovation.

“Neon Heat” kickstarts the epic album journey with enthralling, fittingly nighttime-set danceability. “Tonight I’m gonna fall apart,” sings headlining artist Jolie, exuding an escalating vocal spirit fondly reminiscent of Robyn (and especially her collaborations with Röyksopp). “Party In My Time Machine” struts a similar balance of thumping rhythms and spacey pop engrossment, while “Mecha War Rendezvous” delivers a more ardently anthemic pull with fire-y charisma. All six of Jolie’s songs, from the catchy “Neon Heat” to the momentum-building “Shapeshifter,” are absolute standouts.

Ukrainian pop artist Teya Flow also stars on a couple tracks, commencing with the arp-friendly bustling of “Vampires.” Stylishly serene vocals cast ample intrigue as glistening synths build into a soaring guitar line, delectably embracing an ’80s edge. The synth arpeggios, blissful vocals, and sporadic guitar work combine for an excellent track. “Hypersleep” is another enamoring production, with funky guitar licks and a buzzing bass-heavy fondness driving contagiously alongside Teya Flow’s melodic vocal entrancement.

The one-off collaborators prove fantastic as well, making the most of Bending Grid’s riveting production and ability to incorporate ’80s throwbacks, without being overly reliant on the past. “Transmissions” features American electronic artist KERO and succeeds especially in its dynamic contrast between percussion-less futuristic synth elongation and intensely thumping synth-bass thickness. “Lost in Space” brings listeners back to a more illuminated spacey pop approachability, featuring the lead singer of synthwave/alt-rock band Violet Fears.

“You better run for your life,” guest artist By Forever calls out on “The Beast That Follows,” another success that balances momentum-filled verses — with guitar adornments and bass-y reverberations — into a replay-inducing refrain within the chorus. Starring Vienna-based dream-pop duo Lucy Dreams, “Deep Blue” incorporates a more understated vocal lead — that of their AI band member Lucy — within effervescent synth-forward drives — blending dream-pop and synthwave sentiments for an aesthetical savviness.

Melbourne-based duo The Safety Word provide vocals on the excellent album finale “The Universe Within,” offering a culmination of many things Parallax succeeds in — namely, the ability to traverse seamlessly from starry-eyed atmospheric spaciousness into hooky vigor that tempts ample replays. The “don’t hold back,” vocal beckoning aligns with shifty bass and haunting synth-laden accompaniments, proclaiming “don’t let it go back to the stars,” — and aptly capturing the sense of spacefaring conveyed throughout the album, which bridges ’80s pop nostalgia with forward-looking futurism in its dazzling productions and successful variety of collaborators.

Bending Grid elaborates further on the album:

“The genesis of Parallax spanned a little over a year, evolving from a nebulous concept to a fully realized masterpiece. At its inception, the project didn’t adhere to a rigid direction; I tend to embark on an avant-garde, open-minded approach. The journey began with the creation of numerous instrumentals, snippets of which were tantalizingly shared on social platforms to expand my follower base.”

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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