The synthpop combo of Dark Rouge Park formed in 2012, but the individual band members have been on stage for over 20 years. Thomas Sathmari (Drummer, Keyboardist, Percussionist, Songwriter, Synths), whose first work, called Space Project, was released in the early 90’s, has also been an integral part of other groups as a songwriter, producer and keyboardist. Janos Karsky (Keyboardist, Pianist, Songwriter, Synths), started his musician career as a Club DJ in various places, followed by a 2 year Radio DJ era. Front lady and singer Edina Simon (Vocalist, Backup Vocalist, Songwriter), has worked with a lots of popular European and Hungarian bands as background vocalist, including a well-known Eurodance group, called Groovehouse, and a Pink Floyd tribute band, called ‘Keep Floyding’.
Truly their latest track, “Parallel Life”, accomplishes the melancholy and melody, under a bouncing beat, that most synth bands strive for but cannot quite reach. The strength of this stand-alone track becomes evident after only a few bars and shows how this trio can simultaneously build a rolling soundscape that can hold its own in any pop singles charts, as well as be profoundly thought provoking.
Quite literally, Dark Rouge Park are masters of melding slamming synth beats, layers of luscious sound, beautiful vocals, rich and vivid storytelling, and plenty of harmony, into tracks that defy convention. Mysterious, indefinable genius fills their music. They are architects of auditory landscapes that are haunting, beautiful, sometimes danceable, funky, fun, intense, both pop and anti-pop, but always worth the price of admission.
Compositionally, I think Dark Rouge Park has a lot going for them – interesting and complex chord progressions, but in a pop vein which are easily grasped by listeners of any level of music appreciation. While Edina’s vocals are superb, the music between vocal parts is some of the best, too.
If you could blend the dark, somber and moody instrumentals of Depeche Mode with the soaring, melodic and contagious tunes of Roxette, you would be close to the general feel Dark Rouge Park achieves on their recordings. Their sound is mature, grounded and the benefit of their individual experiences bolsters the caliber of their recordings.
The diverse narratives of their songs have been sculpted with precision and a delicate, but powerful touch. The best examples can be found in the towering “Hotel In L.A.” and the epic and atmospheric, “The Lyrics Always Says The Same”. But they can even move more left-field and into darker territory when they want, as is evidenced on the ominous pieces, “Nightmare” and “Loneliness”.
Lead vocalist Edina Simon deserves much of the credit for the successful outcome of these recordings. A lot of similar bands have female vocals that are thin and whimsical, but Edina has a fuller sound, better range and an uncanny skill at building layers of drama and emotion through tone changes. She can casually get away with quite dark lyrics at times and still have the music sound very danceable and light given her sweet clear tone.
Musically, Dark Rouge Park is light years ahead of the current competition. They take a sound and style that was initiated in the 80s and twist it into something extremely palatable for the 21st Century. Theirs is a masterfully produced collection of superb synth songs that reaffirms what an art it truly is to make gorgeous, meaningful electronica.