Michael Regina – Exit Zero

 Michael Regina – Exit Zero

Michael Regina – Exit Zero – EP Review

Whereas I toss and turn at night trying to sleep while thinking about whether or not most bands and artists that come across these pages of ours even have a future, Michael Regina is not one that I’ve ever had to worry about.  I might stay awake listening to his music, but he’s never kept me up wondering if he’s gonna be around tomorrow.  He’s been featured a whole bunch of times on these pages of ours since around 2018 when we first latched onto his music through a record called A Far Better World, and from that moment on, year after year, he’s proven to be one of the most reliable in this scene we share.  You can count on Michael to create quality tunes, because he’s firmly immersed in the craft, doing what he genuinely loves to do, interested & invested in his music, and consistently coming up with something new.  The man has got serious skills to say the very least y’all…it’s always a genuine pleasure to listen to what he has come up with next, and his brand-new Exit Zero EP is certainly included in that assessment.

With the gentle crashing of waves, Michael’s music seems to wash up on the shore along with it.  A little bit mysterious, maybe even somewhat ominous to start, I’d tell ya that “Cape Sunrise” is one of those clever tracks built on large doses of contrast & resounding emotion that’ll resonate with each individual listener in a completely different way.  As you cross past the two minute mark, you start to feel the song audibly lighten up, as if dawn is truly upon us…and before long, the beat kicks in & the pace intensifies.  Spanning over six minutes in total length, “Cape Sunrise” undoubtedly plays like a soundtrack or an EP of its own, but I think a lot of people out there will enjoy its theme-like vibe, appreciate the ambience that it begins with & have no problem at all riding the waves straight on through to the organ-infused finale.  You’ll often find Regina working with fairly serene ideas and calming sounds, and while that’s true of “Cape Sunrise,” I felt like he also did well to balance out the experience by bringing the beat into play.  With each phase of “Cape Sunrise,” you could feel the song’s energy and sonic presence increasing, much like how the sun continually rises until it’s right above our head providing the maximum amount of light into our day.  Michael’s opening tune on Exit Zero also reminded me a lot of Boards Of Canada, which is an electro-based project that I’ve always loved…they share very similar atmospheric inclinations & instincts in the way they approach their music and let the sound blossom & expand as we listen to it.

While it might take a spin or two to fully accept the shifting moods and heavier weight to a song like “Cape Sunrise,” I can’t imagine a single one of us ever resisting a track like “Day At The Beach” – this is as friendly, inviting, welcoming, and engaging as a delicate electro song could ever possibly be.  That’s not to say you won’t find some of Regina’s signature contrast eventually creeping into the mix – you will – but for the vast majority of what you’ll hear in “Day At The Beach,” it’s uncompromised pleasantness.  It’s like all the mysterious clouds from the beginning have parted completely, and all we’re left with is the beauty and splendor of a new day ahead of us, and we get to enjoy it, right there on the beach!  Who wouldn’t want some of that pouring through their speakers, am I right?  I really like the low-end rhythm he’s got in the synth bass at the bottom of the sound you’ll hear on “Day At The Beach,” and combined with the soaring synth sounds he’s got on top, glistening and gliding on the surface, Michael coasts straight to an easy win with a track like this one…it’s pretty much a textbook definition of what universal sound is.  Michael’s got all angles of this song covered though, from the low-end to the higher atmospheric elements you’ll find, everything about “Day At The Beach” is loaded with sweetened sound.

You’ll certainly appreciate the cohesion to be found within this short set of songs, that much I’m sure of.  If you enjoyed what you heard at the start on “Cape Sunrise,” and you welcomed the shift into the sunshine for “Day At The Beach,” I’d tell ya that you’re in great shape to enjoy “The Migration,” which seems to sit somewhere right between in terms of sound, mood, atmosphere, and overall vibe.  What I personally felt, was that “The Migration” seemed to possess an absolutely mesmerizing hook that was unlike either of the first two tracks…and to be honest, it’s a moment I couldn’t take my ears off of.  Like, I definitely enjoyed hearing the whole song, don’t get me wrong – but each time “The Migration” looped around again, I found myself continually anticipating my favorite moment in this tune – and that’s always a good sign in my opinion.  That means there’s genuinely something special in the mix…a strongly written song and undeniable moment that keeps on bringing us back to listen over and over again – that’s sonic gold y’all!  It’s right there on display around the fifty second mark of “The Migration” – it might seem simple, it might not be complex…I’m okay with all of that – what it IS, is perfection.  Michael has found the right ways of giving the song everything it needs and all that it was calling out for, and that’s all I think we can ever ask for.  Do I think he should have added that hook in even more later on down the road in “The Migration?”  Heck yeah I do!  But I’ll also take what I can get.  There are more instances of him shifting his melody around that come close enough to the same kind of idea, though not quite reaching that same degree of how much the part around fifty-seconds in resonates with me, but yeah…close enough to keep me happy.  “The Migration” is a cleverly balanced tune from start to finish, and another highlight example of Regina finding the right unique ways to somehow satisfy us all.

He chose to go with “Haunted Victorian” as the lead single from what I can tell, giving the song a simple set of visuals to let it be broadcast out there to y’all around the world tuning in through YouTube and such.  Smart idea!  I’ve often told bands and artists out there that feel an intense pressure to come up with a new full-scale video, and while of course that can be effective, really what you need is SOMETHING.  It doesn’t have to be super fancy – just something that allows you to beam out your music around the world via a different method or medium…that’s the kind of stuff you wanna make sure you’ve done your due diligence with, like Michael has.  Do I think “Haunted Victorian” is THE single from the Exit Zero EP?  I’m actually pretty cool with it as a choice…though I’ll admit, once I clicked on the YouTube link to check it out after I’d listened to the whole EP at Spotify, I was kind of looking forward to some kind of visual ghost story to go along with it.  Anyhow…like I said, it works on a functional level, which is really all that it needs to do, and yes, I do think “Haunted Victorian” was a good choice.  I’ll fully admit – I think I could make a fairly justified argument on behalf of every one of the songs on Exit Zero to vie for that single-worthy status…I feel like I’d have personally leaned into the warm friendliness of a song like “Day At The Beach,” but I do love a good mystery too, and “Haunted Victorian” readily supplies that kind of vibe perfectly.  Like…talk about an apt title dear readers, dear friends…if you’ve ever wondered what it sounds like to hear a song that is described to a tee by the title it has, listen to “Haunted Victorian” – it’s spot-freakin’-on.  I’d be quite stoked about the way this song came out if I was Michael…”Haunted Victorian” is audibly creepy and yet completely compelling & graceful too.  It’s got that superb contrast you’ll find between the light and dark that Regina does so very well throughout his catalog.  He might lean more towards the dark in an X-files type of way on “Haunted Victorian,” but that might have just made me love it more.  His production continues to be as professional as it’s ever been.

I might not know how he’s done it, but I’d say he’s probably even saved his best for last when it comes to this particular lineup, with “Starlight Drift” coming in at the end.  At the very least, it’s probably the most accessible of the bunch, with perhaps the only exception being “Day At The Beach” that could rival its appeal.  I think the people paying the closest attention will find a lot of tie-ins between songs one, three, and five…it could be that Michael has done this on purpose, or it could simply be a matter of an artist gravitating towards the sounds they love most on a personal level…either way, you’ll find that the odd-numbered songs on this record all lean heavily into that atmospheric, dreamy synth-style of vibe.  Ain’t nothing wrong with that of course…think of music like a great soup…you’ve got your base, and from there it’s really all about what you add to it that makes it amazing, know what I mean?  The bright sounds that Regina has paired with the atmospheric synth that floats through “Starlight Drift” became the perfect accompaniment, and really seemed to complete the idea overall.  Like, I enjoyed “Cape Sunrise” right from the get-go…I felt like “The Migration” dove further into that idea and produced an even more significantly memorable highlight…and then “Starlight Drift” completely knocked it right outta the park.  Definitely a good note to go out on, a song that’s sure to be loved by all who listen, and an understated but completely finale-worthy track that finishes up what’s been another flawless effort by the maestro of ambient electro, Michael Regina.  Great work once again, as I expected it would be.

Find out more about Michael Regina from his official website at:  https://www.michaelregina.com

You won’t actually READ this message, but imagine a world where you did!  You’d know you could be the next up on our pages at sleepingbagstudios by clicking here!



"I’m passionate about what I do, and just as passionate about what YOU do. Together, we can get your music into the hands of the people that should have it. Let’s create something incredible."

Send this to a friend