Dr Optimiser – “What If” and “100 Steps From The Shoreline”

Propelled by the success of 2 songs receiving airplay on the Steve Lamacq show on BBC Radio, Neil Garrett aka Dr Optimiser released his electro beats infused album, “TREMOR”. Garrett is an atypical electronic musician, coming to the genre after playing bass, guitar, keyboards, and doing some vocal work in various groups. His interest in electronic music was ignited when he found a standard package of music software installed on his computer. Neil decided to experiment with digital composing, processing, sampling and optimizing – The result has led us to who is now Dr Optimiser.

The album has Dr Optimiser throwing the kind of retro, high-class, shimmering electro shapes which have you thinking of the legendary synth-pop kings at their most wickedly innovative. What’s striking about Dr Optimiser’s gait is how he combines old-school textural synth vibes with giddy, on-point futuristic production gumption and classical elements, to produce tracks like “Dark Side”, “What If” and “Weather Maps”, which are nigh on faultless. Dr Optimiser always leaves a few spaces in his arrangements so that the grooves can properly percolate and he can come up with a new shizzle.

I have always been intrigued by the unique charm of British electronic music. UK electronic artists seem to have an uncanny ability to manipulate synths in such a way that makes their sound so undeniably unique.

Whether it be an underlying sensuality, the quirkiness of a jagged beat, the bravado of melding facets from other musical genres; or blurring the lines of music and noise, electronic music fans can certainly distinguish a Brit electro track from the others.

“TREMOR” maintains this Brit-styled melding pot sensibility, but seems a bit more refined, as if Dr Optimiser has reached a point where he now has time to take stock of where he has come from, and be a bit more reflective and poignant in his compositions.

He can throw out a scurrying electro tune like “Sitting Here” that can easily be used as a foundation for an array of eclectic remixes. And then surprise you with a wobbly and growling hybrid number, like “Nigel’s Gone Dancing”.

Though never overtly banging, this is essentially a thumping record. What is most impressive about Dr Optimiser is the way he’s made a record that sounds like it’s everywhere, but is in fact totally the opposite. Every nuance is carefully calculated with precision, and the keyboard riffs introduced at just the right time and pitch.

There are some no-holds-barred, lose yourself, chiptune-like moments here, such as “Cosmic Wave” and “The Puzzling Bead”, but these are cleverly countered by more subtle instances, like “Honey Bees”, exhibiting a strange grace and beauty.

The Bristol based Dr Optimiser has clearly thought about the whole structure while writing the components, so that the record effectively goes round in a circle, ready to start the action all over again. All in all, “TREMOR” is both a pleasant surprise and an addiction: I listened to it at least four times in a row, which I believe is one of the greatest compliments one can pay to an album and its creator!


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