The term “synth-pop” has always been used to describe Joy Electric’s music. While the term is certainly correct technically—indeed, Ronnie Martin has often taken great pride in his music’s synthetic nature—it feels rather, well, lacking. I mean, anyone with an Erasure fixation and access to a synth or two can create synth-pop. What Martin does under the Joy Electric moniker is something else entirely. For starters, how many other artists in the genre craft elaborate fairy tale mythologies as praise songs for Jesus Christ, sing odes to both the genius of Nikola Tesla and the joy of domestic life, or in the case of The Otherly Opus, create a concept record about antediluvian history?
The Otherly Opus actually consists of two parts. The first five tracks make up The Otherly Opus, and they’ll be fondly looked upon by those who are fans of Joy Electric circa We Are The Music Makers and Old Wives Tales. These tracks have an old school feel to them, with Martin pining away for magical eras, phantoms, Harry Houdini, fairy tale lands, and all of those other things that made us fall in love with his music in the first place—specifically, the themes of nostalgia, magic, and wonder.
Meanwhile, the all-too-familiar sounds of Martin’s array of analog synths—the bleeps and bloops that are unfortunately often brushed off as Nintendo music—duck, dive, coo, giggle, and whisper, the synthetic melodies moving with a grace that comes from decades of perfecting one’s craft. However, Martin is not simply resting on his laurels. While the “all analog” aesthetic is still very much in effect, there are some noticeable changes to the tried and true Joy Electric sound.