New York-based synth pop artist, songwriter and producer Matt Kourie has been a part of the New York music scene for the better part of a decade, as he’s played guitar and sung in a number of local indie rock bands, including the nu metal band, R22. The When, Kourie’s synth-based project, employs both his experience as a rock musician and his training in audio and film production, to craft an extremely cinematic, yet 80s sounding synth pop sound that channels Giorgio Moroder’s early 80s soundtracks and of contemporary electronic music artist, Umberto – but paired with vocals that give the material a deeply brooding feel, as though it were part of the soundtrack of a dsytopian sci-fi thriller. 

Interestingly, Kourie’s first two releases as The When, Cycles of Time and the forthcoming Layer Zero, slated for release this summer are part of a trilogy that follows the story arc of Alex Wonder, whose metamorphosis throughout the trilogy revolves around the protagonist finds his true self and acting on the potential to fulfill his destiny; in fact, the trilogy was written and conceived as a way to give listeners a creative and philosophical experience, but in the case of Layer Zero, as a way to showcase a much heavier, rock-based sound. 

“Better Than Now,” Layer Zero’s latest single is a dense and eerie track comprised of ominously undulating synths, with a layer of ethereal shimmering synths and pairs that with Kourie’s vocals floating just above the mix and in some way you can envision the song being used in a scene that involves the protagonist driving around a dilapidated, heavily polluted city center, seeking answers and revenge for the murder of their family – or a movie that follows the protagonist’s desperate escape from a paranoid, police state that closely mimics our own.