Album Review: Caspro – Head Reset

Head Reset is the type of album that defies categorization, yet instead of falling between the cracks, the undeniable skill level behind its songs makes it a standout in the sea of electronic music. It’s the type of album that’s engaging enough to remain on repeat for hours, yet it’s also accessible enough to be enjoyed on the first playthrough. One could quickly conjure up a dozen genre tags for Head Reset’s style of uptmempo, energetic electronica. It’s drum and bass, it’s chiptune, it’s synthwave. One could even throw the word techno at the album and watch it stick for a song or two. Head Reset is all of these things and precisely none of them, and it’s all the better for it.

Much more important than the question of what is Head Reset is the question of how is Head Reset, and the answer to that is, simply, excellent. In all art, there is a matter of inspiration and the equally important — though far less popular — topic of innate talent. Caspro has both in abundance, and they are clear in every aspect of his debut, from the song structures to the intricacy of the melodies and the effortlessly compelling rhythms. Synth leads flow naturally from moment to moment, collaborating with carefully placed buildups, masterful breaks, and the many smaller pieces that add final touches to a musical creation. The most succinct way to describe Caspro’s compositions is to say they feel “right.” Each time a shift occurs in a song, the change is natural and satisfying. These shifts are not necessarily predictable, though they always feel like the optimal choice for their particular moment in a track.

The complexity and originality of Head Reset should come as no surprise given Caspro’s diverse influences. Inspirations for his music include atmospheric creations like the Blade Runner soundtrack, video game music of all eras, including NES and SNES, electronic artists like Blue Stahli, Deadmau5, and Com Truise, and metal bands including Opeth and Children of Bodom. A classically trained musician, Caspro grew up playing piano and cello before relinquishing those instruments to ply his craft with electronic tools. All of these musical elements and aspects of the artist’s background are evident on the album, and the result is a multi-faceted creation with a healthy song selection.

“Lightyear” launches Head Reset with a perfect representation of Caspro’s distinctive sound and admirably dense songwriting. The track features a multi-part introduction that morphs into the main body of the piece in a way that takes traditional, sectional songwriting, wads it into a ball, and pitches it out the window. Pop tunes be damned, “Lightyear” follows a path with few rules and maintains listener interest with its near-constant state of evolution. Multiple lead melodies guide the piece, echoing one another in a subtle and edifying way. Occasionally, as at the conclusion, the leads fire off simultaneously for a remarkable songwriting effort that is as successful as it is ambitious.

“Rockternal” and “Coltvista” are similarly stellar tracks with hook-heavy leads, though the many layers tucked away in each one blur the lines between melody and rhythm. In “Rockternal,” a gliding synth lead races over the top of much of the song, while quicker, more concise notes bounce off the percussion in a surprising and exciting interplay. As with Caspro’s song structures, his approach to instrumentation stands above related artists, offering carefully composed pieces that are worth revisiting multiple times just to follow a single element on each listen. Every song has its own unique moments that make it memorable and distinct from the others. For example, “Xenoration” delivers a strong dance rhythm with well-timed breaks and buildups, while “Fluxmode” is a flowing piece with melodies that echo Chinese folk music.

Each song feels like a musical journey more than a static series of organized sounds, perhaps due to Caspro’s interest in movie and video game soundtracks. One of the biggest challenges for any musician is finding a way to keep songs interesting for their duration, and Caspro’s solution is a progressive songwriting approach that delivers consistently new and compelling moments. In relation to the countless bland and half-hearted electronic albums released in nearby genres, Caspro’s first full-length effort is a liberating listening experience.

The diversity and depth of the album is further complemented by its high overall quality. There are no weak spots on Head Reset or filler tracks to pad the running time, even though a small number of entries, such as “Encircle,” slide down in quality to good instead of great. However, the sound production remains clear and free of distractions throughout with satisfyingly thick bass notes and crisp leads that maintain enough aural space between one another to allow meaningful interaction.

The technical aspects of Head Reset are commendable and the songwriting choices are top notch. Yet Caspro’s greatest accomplishment is something less tangible: Head Reset is the type of creation that is accessible and riveting on the first playthrough while offering enough depth and complexity to reward repeated listens. In the spirit of the album’s relationship to video games, an analogy to modern Street Fighter games may be fitting: a casual person can pick it up and enjoy it without investing any serious energy into the undertaking, while another can dedicate hours to unraveling and identifying its finer points.

Head Reset defies classification, yet the strength of Caspro’s songwriting helps the album stand out rather than sink into the shadows. It’s a lengthy creation with a respectable array of influences and an impressive level of execution that makes most electronic music seem lethargic and weary by comparison. As a debut, it’s a remarkable accomplishment, and it establishes Caspro as an artist to follow closely.

Rating: 96 / 100

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