Rogue FX it’s Andrew Wood from the United Kingdom. He was part of the Synthpop group “Please” in the 80s and then ventured into House music in the 90s under the name “Bass Value.” He’s now returning to grace us with his art after a 20-year hiatus.
Initially releasing high-level singles like “filofax,” he has now released an EP titled “The Fifth Step,” which is precisely the work we’re going to delve into today.
And let me tell you: it’s really worth not only listening to but also delving into the message that Andrew wants to convey with his music.
The Fifth Step - Luca's Take
Those who know me are aware that when I come across a work that uses music to convey a social message, I get, as they used to say, over the moon, and that’s the case with “The Fifth Step” by Rogue FX.
Not only is the music in one of my favorite genres, namely retro/synthwave/synthpop, but the story it creates is, for anyone who can use their head and analyze it, a direct indictment of the society we are rapidly heading toward, concealed behind a sci-fi/cyberpunk narrative.
The musical aspect is truly enjoyable: at times simple but certainly full of energy and memorable. The 80s style shines through every single note, and the choice to alternate full tracks with small cinematic pieces to better guide the listeners along the plot is brilliant.
However, the part we should all focus on the most is the story, extremely relevant in today’s world where we still have the power to decide the future of this planet and the society to which, whether we like it or not, we belong.
It’s 2033, and the Earth is now controlled by corporations through a series of constant emergencies, the main one being the health crisis. This has led the entire planet into a perpetual state of lockdown, consistently turned into a commercial opportunity by various corporations that, amid one burnt-out brain and another, offer life services in the form of “mind journeys.”
One of these corporations, backed by the government (of course), is the “In Mind Corps,” which promotes itself with the slogan: “Think about the future, take the fifth step.”
The story follows the mercenary Max Rogue and his experience with this utterly corrupt corporation until his redemption.
I love it.
The Fifth Step - Alex's Take
From the very beginning, “The Fifth Step” transports the listener into a haunting future where corporations have taken absolute control of human minds.
This narrative concept unfolds captivatingly throughout the entire EP. The mini-tracks open up the futuristic imagination with advanced technologies and the misuse of control, while the main tracks guide the audience through this dystopian vision as indoctrination into being controlled by the corporations takes place.
In the main tracks, a combination of pulsating synths and sharp percussion creates an unsettling yet engaging, fascinating, and tempting atmosphere. The singer leads us through this dystopia with a determined and intriguing voice that reminds me of INXS.
The brief interlude tracks are a pleasant surprise, injecting a dose of rhythmic and vocal tension, flirting with electronic hip-hop, making the EP even more intriguing and diverse. They brought to mind the 90s, reminding me of a track by SNAP – “the EX-Terminator.”
Rogue FX has created one of the best retro works in recent years with this EP, all while emphasizing the importance of a message that, hidden beneath a layer of pure fantasy, winks at those who seek to understand.
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All the best,
Luca & Alex