[Album Review] Synthwave and Sci-Fi Collide On VanMahner's 'Landing Is Done'

The legend of Strasbourg’s VanMahner is growing, as the producer and DJ has more or less completed his transition from rock to synthwave. As part of electronic music collective 1518, VanMahner is responsible for his hometown’s finest music events and gatherings. After a number of singles in the last couple of years, his debut EP Landing is Done has been let loose, filled with lush electronic soundscapes and influences of cyberpunk and science fiction. For a six-track EP, he’s got a hell of a thing on his hands, with danceable tracks balanced out by trippy, bouncy synthpop.

Kicking things off is “Vanemanera,” with its epic choir and orchestral arrangement. For some reason, I get a vibe similar to the epic prelude used by AEW’s Cody Rhodes, a sort of calm before the storm. As an intro, it works, and the time change is punctuated by more electronics and a simple back beat. “Brut” comes in as a dancer of a number, with an intermittent siren sample that is going to be in my nightmares, guaranteed. “Messages” has a fun, fuzzy bassline with overlapping synths and riffing galore. Where the previous two tracks messed around and found out, this one chose not to, playing it a little safe.

“Alien on Tinder” is delightfully, wholly sci-fi, from the spacey Theremin to the alluring narration of Luka. The bassline takes this one right into nostalgic territory, even with lyrics such as “I matched with an alien.” “Reptilian Hypnose” is bouncy fun, occasionally showing its teeth for a darker, moodier edge. It is the longest and most fleshed-out track on the EP, and is therefore worth checking out, if nothing else. “Bat Boy” comes in with a modern sound, even with an orchestral backing and its flirting with dubstep at points.

For a first outing, VanMahner has put out a nice little EP here. There is a start of something here, and therefore I’m excited on principle. Landing is Done isn’t exactly groundbreaking or game-changing, but it’s hard to dislike anything that’s offered here.

Landing is Done is available now via Lazerdiscs Records.