Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Second Annual Synthetix.FM Year End Synthstravaganza

As 2013 waves good bye and fades out into the horizon it's time for the Second Annual Synthetix.FM Year End Synthstravaganza! This attempts to cover all my favourite highlights from the 80s inspired synth scene into eight genre specific top tens plus a bonus not specifically 80s inspired synth top ten too.

2013 has been another evolutionary step for many producer's musical journeys. Over the last couple weeks (and throughout the year) I've been making special note of the tracks that I really loved but this never really makes the finalising of my top ten favourites any easier, right up to the point of posting this there are numerous lists with eleven plus tracks that I'm finding very hard to split. The process takes a lot of time, but I think it's important to do, for me as a fan, to know what I really loved about the music and producers I ardently follow. These aren't lists randomly thrown together nor are they compiled to reflect anyone's but my own tastes so if you disagree with my choices, thats all rockin. We all have our different idiosyncrasies with music after all, and this list is by no means meant to be any kind of yard stick for popular consensus, merely a way for me to sum up my highlights of the year from my perspective.

Before we get to the lists, I wanted to make a few observations about the year, from what I've seen. 2013 has seen a marked shift from many producers to include vocals in their music. The resurgence of Italo Disco Synth in 2013 has ushered this in and I hope it's a trend that continues and evolves in a timely fashion as producer's are now becoming songwriters. Also the use of other instruments is becoming a norm rather than an exception, especially in regards to guitars and brass. This is hugely exciting and offers so much more scope for producers. I still believe that the scene is only scratching the surface of all the available 80s inspirations to draw from and the process of producers finding these hot new sounds is a great deal of the excitement for me as a fan of both new and original 80s sounds.

2013 has definitely seen a marked increase in fans of the genres I cover on Synthetix.FM too. The numbers for the Synthetix Music group on Facebook is up to 1600+ members and each day new devotees seem to getting on board with a passion for this awesome music. As the scene gets a wider audience I'll be right there with you with all the most rockin tunes and spreading the love as far and wide as possible.

So cheers to 2013 and heres to 2014, let's all make sure it's a rockin one and to make sure you see the year out in the best fashion possible I have my second annual Synthetix.FM Ultimix to share with you featuring my top four tracks from each of the top tens below, I hope you enjoy it and rock it hard!

And finally, to finish off a spectacular year in the 80s inspired synth scene,  here are my top tens of 2013.

Top 10 Soundtrack Synth

1, Higher & Further - Tommy (featuring Perturbator)
2, Come In - Alpha Boy
3, Streets In Motion - C-Jeff
4, Sunset - Dance With The Dead
5, Tema Di Kerstin - Vercetti Technicolor
6, Theme From Manta Ray - Peter Robinson
7, Zero Gravity - Dynatron
8, Resurrection - Power Glove
9, Electric Dreams - Python Blue
10, Frozen Tears - Lueur Verte

Top 10 Electro Funk Synth

1, You Just Came To Crash The Party - Garth Knight
 Fashionation - Chaccone
3, Break Point - Rain Sword
4, Battle Graffiti Kids - LA Dreams
5, Automachine XOVOM - Batch Sound
6, FM Synth AM Station (Secret Password) - PinWizz
7, Lost Years - Remedies
8, Heaven 87 - Biff Taylor
9, Fused 2013 (Main Mix) - Bodypoppers United
10, Stealing The Night - Manolis

Top 10 OutRun Synth

1, The King Of The Streets - Lazerhawk
2, Unlimited - Flash Arnold
3, The Other Side Of You - Lost Years
4, High Fidelity - Tommy
5, The Girl With The Blond Hair - Diana Gitallog
6, Redlining 6th - Betamaxx
7, Black Rain - LA Dreams
8, Informationsuperhighway - Grooveworthy
9, The Chase - Highway Superstar
10, Sarah - Le Matos

Top 10 Dark Synth

1, Looking For Tracy Tzu - Carpenter Brut
2, Thrasher - Dance With The Dead
3, Night Force - Power Glove
4, Sexualizer - Perturbator (Featuring Flash Arnold)
5, Dangerous After Dark - Lazerhawk
6, Chainsaw Revenge - Absolute Valentine
7, Journey - Thunderclaw
8, Striker - Judge Bitch (featuring Perturbator)
9, Maniac - Mega Drive
10, Summer Heat: Los Angeles - Protector 101

Top 10 Italo Disco Synth

1, Summer Love - Vincenzo Salvia (featuring Chrissy Valentine)
2, No Time To Loose (In The Night) - Sam Haggblad
3, If Looks Could Kill - Collins
4, Psykotrash - Batch Sound
5, Girl From USSR - Action Jackson
6, Rocket Power - PH Groove
7, Un Paradis Tropical - James Baker
8, Night Dancing - Shio-Z
9, Save Me - Mulperi
10, Harrison Ford - Nightstop

Top 10 Synth Romance

1, Steam - LA Dreams
2, Afterglow - Cougar Synth
3, Alpine Glow - STARFORCE
4, Pretty Girl - Sunglasses Kid
5, Save The Moment - Dynatron
6, Dialtones - Highway Superstar
7, Sky High - D/A/D
8, One Night In Maratea - Vincenzo Salvia
9, Park Avenue 1989 - Lost Years
10, Caught Her Name At Recess - Neonflashdrive

Top 10 Synth Wave

1, Backbone Of The Night - D/A/D
2, Penumbra - LA Dreams
3, F40 1987 - Adrien Aubrun & Thomas Trichet
4, Convertor - Lost Years
5, The Touch - Mitch Murder
6, Take It Back - Emery Sieczko
7, Havasu - Plaisance
8, Into The Darkness - Droid Bishop
9, Driving The Night Away - Dreamwave Dave
10, 9h00 - Cosmic Sand

Top 10 Synth Pop

1, So Real - Silent Gloves (featuring Patrick Baker)
2, Just Till Midnight - Mitch Murder (featuring Miranda Carey)
3, Wild Heart - Kristine
4, Fade Away - FM Attack (with Julian Sanza)
5, Meet Jimmy - Perturbator (featuring Le Cassette)
6, Time In Time - Sunglasses Kid (featuring Kristine)
7, Tonight - Le Cassette
8, Without You - Arcade High (featuring Hannah Edwards)
9, Big Love - Jamie Lidell
10, Talking Machines - Compilerbau

Top 10 Electronica

1, Sgt. Tagowski - Starcadian
2, Morning Swim - PowercuT
3, 2020 - Navigateur
4, White Tape - Amazing Police
5, Takeover - Action Jackson
6, Voices - Alan Braxe
7, As We Were - Maethelvin
8, Pomrad - Pomslap
9, Vertigo - Embryonik
10, Chrome - Klockhaus

That's 2013 done for Synthetix.FM. I'll be taking a vacation from Synthetix.FM until my return for 2014 on January 18 which will be a huge Weekend Update catch up, but be sure to check in on the Synthetix Music group on Facebook for more hot rockin through the festive season.

I'd like to thank everyone for supporting and partaking in the fun this year on Synthetix.FM, from every producer to every reader and every supporter of the 80s inspired synth scene; it's the people that make this scene a joy to be a part of and I wish you all the best for the 2014.

'Til then, stay 80s and keep on rockin!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kenji Runs Unto The End

One of the most underrated artists in the 80s inspired synth scene is Kenji Run. I've been a fan of this producer for at least year and a half now (going back to May 2012 on Synthetix.FM here)  and there is something about the emotional connection this man has to his music that I find incredibly raw to listen to. Every song Kenji Run creates is fraught with fragile longing and passionate soliloquies of love both requited and unrequited.

The soundscape Kenji Run creates is a direct homage to early 80s synth music with a modern splicing of subtle ideas. The robotic voice of Kenji Run is one of the most dominant aspects of the production as the the lyrics are intimated in machinelike tones that add an even more tragic layer to the context of melodies. Kenji Run has also begun incorporating layers of sometimes solemn and sometimes jubilant choirs into the synthscape which adds even more humanity to the experience and individualises the aesthetic of 'Unto The End' even further. The combinations of sounds are alluring and welcoming, like a conversation with a close friend, each piece of music on 'Unto The End' feels important and valuable, due in great part to the emotional investment felt through every composition.

Throughout this album, helpfully attributed by the cover art as well, there is a feeling of this experience being a eulogy of some description. A remembrance of lost love, a putting to rest of pain and the embracing of those who've left our lives into our fondest memories. The depth can be severe, cutting to the quick and opening scars once thought healed but it's this involvement the listener can experience with this album that makes it so special.

The simply titled 'Romance' initiates Unto The End and brings in the Kenji Run colour palette of deep grays stained with neon into clear view. The happiness and upbeat nature of 'Romance' sets itself into o the most joyous chapter on the record, the refrains are glowing with the thrills of passion and elation of the moment. The music beats with a heart of radiant 80s love and it's passages reinforce the vocal performance beautifully.

The opening idea of 'Romance' is continued in 'Midnight Kiss' although fault lines and cracks are beginning to appear in the once perfect facade of the first track. The melodies are robust with direction and spirited in delivery, while ghostly elements begin to creep into the atmosphere as things begin to turn from happiness to longing despair. The cold night allows the darker side of love to become the dominant force, while the yearning heart is plunged deeper into darkness.

With the rains come a cleansing of the palette, but the new day is hidden from the warmth of the sun and the forlorn heart grows cold in it's solitude. The tragedy of the moment is uttered by the mechanised voice of betrayal, climbing melodies scramble for understanding but gain little ground as the heaviness of the atmosphere begins to collapse with each repeated refrain. This becomes an obsessive mantra on the path to further despair, 'Together Until I Die' is a state of mind that only exists as a fantasy.

'Our Life As Meteorite' takes the obsession to the next level as the twist of the knife stabs with the melodies as the memories are skewed into a painfully hopeless place. This is the Kenji Run magic running at full speed, head long into ultimate emotional torture. The repeated refrain, the rising choirs, the mocking percussion, it's a symphony of servility falling on unfeeling ears and we can but watch the spiral continue downwards into hell.

This heavy atmosphere is taken on a beautifully poetic side story in 'Submarine' as the need is finally recognised to escape from the current situation. The fantasy of losing the pain of reality through a dimension under the sea gives a twinge of hope. The music is buoyant and the warm melodies are welcoming, but is this a safe harbour or another falsehood? The imagination is given to a flight of fancy before reality washes in with a dose of harsh, cold reality.

The music is so powerful throughout this album as the pieces are written with such emotional conviction that the vocals become inexorably linked to them. In the title track this is absolutely apparent. 'Unto The End' begins in the twilight of lost love and works into a psychological drama of rejection that is unable to be comprehended. Synths are crushing in their presence, loaded with ill intents and the constant refrain brings the madness ever closer. This piece is stunning in it's emotional power, and the feeling of Kenji Run's soul being laid bare is intimated with much beauty.

As the emotional walls fall down in a slow motion collapse the memories of the past offer slight comfort amidst the anguish in 'She Is My Only'. In this piece in particular the lyrics are conveyed on the teetering point of the precipice that threatens to end all rational and cohesive thought. Beautiful melodies attempt to lighten the mood and rekindle the romance but they only manage to sharpen the painful recollections further.

The pleading is unrelenting in 'One Last Chance' as the air of finality begins to take it's shape. Synthual comforts are no longer working and the oblivious vocal track implores some kind of reconciliation. Intermittent breakdowns and melodic explorations search for fragments of happiness amid the emotional carnage, alas with no success.

The eulogy of passion is completed with 'I Regret'. The despondency and bitterness is a driving force that conjures choirs and percussion in equal measures as final goodbyes are torn and ripped through clenched fists and grinding teeth. The end offers little solace, the pain is never going go away and the eternal threatening solitude opens it's arms wide, offering a final resting place for the eternally broken heart.

Kenji Run manages to keep the focus on Unto To End completely in a negative space without suffocating the listener over the course of the album. His ability to make the music just light enough to offer some brightness to the void like darkness of the lyrical content is what makes the experience incredibly intimate. The emotional rollercoaster is a terrifying ride into our own weaknesses and the heartfelt beauty uttered in every syllable of every lyric is exceptionally well executed.

Kenji Run's Unto The End is presented by Foulharmonic Records on iTunes, Amazon and Juno Download. This record is such an intimate window into this producer's personal life that a voyeuristic element is sometimes present. We get to experience this relationship breakdown first hand and we're taken with him into the darkest depths of emotional fallout and the vain attempt to pick up the pieces. This is truly a Synthetix Reference Experience in every way, the songwriting is impeccable with each chapter allowing the vocal and melodies to describe the entire painful story and I, most certainly, felt every moment of heartbreak, betrayal, hopelessness and delusion. Telling a story is one thing, but feeling that story is something very special indeed.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Synthetix Weekend Update

Rounding the corner for the final straight of 2013 rockets the new Synthetix Weekend Update into first place. This is the last Weekend Update for 2013 as next weekend, or soon after, I'll be sharing the second annual Synthetix.FM Year End Synthstravaganza. This festival of 80s inspired synth will include my favourite Top 10 tracks from each genre I cover on Synthetix.FM as well as the Synthetix.FM Ultimix for 2013 to get you through the holiday season. I'll then be taking my leave of Synthetix.FM until the end of January for my annual vacation.

It's always an exciting time leading up to the year's end, and the last couple of weeks have witnessed some super heavy hitting tracks released and this week has been no exception with some of the most rockin hits of the year being shared by the most rockin producers in the 80s inspired synth scene, all brand new for you!

Crank up the volume and prepare to blast for the last time to the 80s dream of 2013 with the Synthetix Weekend Update!

RF Extreme has definitely been one of my favourite producers of the year and his work has culminated with the incredibly beautiful 'Time Stood Still'. This glowing exposition of embracing Synth Romance gets right to the essence of sounds and beauty working together as one. I'm sure we can expect even more sumptuous synthphonies from RF Extreme in 2014.

Logan Sky's been much too busy playing synths in Visage during their Hearts And Knives tour throughout most of the year but has managed to squeeze in a hot new track before the end of 2013 called 'Love's a Re-Run'. This funky/jazzy ambiance takes you on a freeform journey through Logan Sky's creativity and the experience feels like a wonderful stream of consciousness.

You'll find numerous Synthetix.FM favourites returning for this final Weekend Update and it's marvellous to be able to include Fantastisizer amongst them. His aptly titled 'The Return' is moody and contains a hint of uneasiness and foreboding in the progressions. The story is captivating and marvellously orchestrated with a vastly immersive presence throughout.

Riddlis is still finding his own sound as a producer, I believe, and his recent sounds have been of a much more modern flavour but with 'Chasing Osaka Sun' we find Riddlis back in the 80s and rockin to the max. The production a cacophony of sounds that are all full of energy, jostling for position in the synthscape and it's this massively inspiring energy that drives the experience so perfectly well. The passages are explored with much passion and emotion and wondrous 80s homage.

Often times it's the surprising mixtures of aesthetics that I never thought possible to combine makes for the most engaging experiences in 80s inspired synth. The latest track from Reggie Hazzard is a great example of this as Synth Romance sounds are blended with influences from Joy Division/New Order. The presentation of this is spectacular and really captures emotional spaces and times beautifully.

The magic of the season is truly realised in the totally kick arse new track from LA Dreams called 'No Other' and featuring the vocal talents of Kye Munroe. This takes the LA Dreams synthscapes into a funky late 80s synth pop vibe that I hope he continues to explore. The pop sensibilities of LA Dreams are a territory that remains vastly undiscovered and this combining of talents certainly makes for very exciting music which I just can't get enough of.

Over the last month a hot new label has surfaced in Future 80s Records. They've managed to crank out a massive amount of releases in the last few weeks and unfortunately I don't have the space on Synthetix.FM to cover them all. Their stable already features many Synthetix.FM favourites like Kubinski, Niky Nine, John Sparxx, Scream & Dive, Absolute Valentine and Stallone Jones amongst many others, be sure to check out their Bandcamp page here for a tonne of hot rockin action.

Now though I'd like to share their latest kick arse track from Station A3 - 'For The Victory'.  This piece of music is a richly textured journey into the past that tells a story full of action and adventure with searing highs and gorgeously realised introspective passages. You can pick up a copy of Station A3's  five track EP Rewind Night through Future 80s Records here to keep on rockin this awesome vibe.

Another Future 80s Records artist new to Synthetix.FM is Night Invader. His track 'Midnight Dreams' is off his four track EP called Inception (available here) is an enchanting experience in emotional synth passions. The lead melody explores with a tender intimacy and is accented by a delightfully delicate atmosphere. Many thanks to Halyein for the heads up on this superb track.

Action and drama are the order of the day with the hot new track from Nympho Airwaves called 'Symbol Visa'. The synthscape is full of passionate energy and evolves with a swirling undulation. The midpoint finds an explosive range of movie/trailer samples injected into the mix that I first found jarring but on repeated listens really enjoyed. It adds a contrasting rawness to the experience with the flavours of danger becoming much stronger.

One of the big records I'm looking forward to at the climax of 2013 is Highway Superstar's debut album on Rosso Corsa Records. With only a 'December' planned release date I'm currently unsure as to whether I'm going to be able to give this record the proper Synthetix.FM treatment before the year's end. Rest assured, I'll do everything I can to make it happen next week, or failing that hopefully early next year upon my return. For now check out this totally rockin teaser video for Take My Time.

The next installment in Adrien Aubrun & Thomas Trichet's 'Neo Flashback' adventure has arrived and it rocks to the max! I was floored by their first experience in this project by their amazing track 'F40 1987' and this new piece explores more rockin retro dimensions. The intensity is there from the outset in this piece but the middle passages and beyond open up to some absolutely resplendent vistas of glorious 80s synth magic. The combinations of modern and vintage sounds and emotions are constructed with just the right balance once again by this rad duo.

A hot rockin new artist for Synthetix.FM is Manolis with his totally kick arse new track 'Stealing The Night'. The funk runs as high as the emotions in this absolutely tremendous odyssey into 80s synthscapes. The melodies are incredible and the arrangements are flawless. This is a huge track that I hope you feel too, and you can also grab a FREE copy of this currently via the link in the player.

New from Neon Rebel is the high speed OutRun energy rush 'Hyperion'. I think the traditional OutRun sounds haven't really been that prominent in 2013 as the more visceral extension of it in Slash Electro has come into more prominence and Slow Motion OutRun styles get explored further, but I digress. Neon Rebel's new track is a rip roaring ride into the night with the pedal to the floor and the neon reflecting off the paintwork as thousands of horsepower explode in a rage of vengeance and action.

Next up is the spectacular return of another Synthetix.FM favourite in Chaconne with his new funktasticly suave synth experience 'Fashionation'. I just adore Chaconne's energy and the tightness in his delivery. Everything is engineered for maximum excitement and it makes the piece extraordinarily vibrant and intense. You can pick up this track along with his other hot new rockin track  'London Nights' as well as his stunning anthem 'Romance And Revolution' on his just released EP on Bandcamp here, which I very, very highly recommend you do so as soon as humanly possible.

One of the very few producers around still today that can capture the emotions and sounds of the initial 2009/10 80s revival era is Paul For You. The combination of French House, Nu Disco and the implementation of 80s sounds creates for an intoxicating mix and Paul For You is still killing this style years later. His new EP called Somewhere is now available on iTunes and is like a time capsule of those wonderful new times and experiences. The music is still as fresh and energising and full of lustrous 80s homage as always so be sure to check out the EP for more good rockin Paul For You.

Nowtro's begun the hype for his upcoming EP titled 'After Dark' with his kick arse new jam 'Technoir'. The blend of old and new sounds is balanced beautifully as the pace is kept to a canter but the intensity is set to fever pitch. Synths are geared towards excellently detailed passages that pass by smoothly and fade out into the distant night horizon. This EP will be surely one to watch for.

Pushing it to the limit is Grooveworthy's new OutRun rampage 'Giza'. The explosive pace is unrelenting and gallops into oblivion with gusto and disregard for it's own wellbeing. The synthscape is peppered with an atmospheric middle section before hurtling once again into high energy finish. This track is available at a name-your-own-price point on Bandcamp via the link in the player.

Rocking into the dimension of deliciously bubblegum flavoured Synth Pop, once again, sashays Mitch Murder  this time with vocal accompaniment by new 80s synth scene chanteuse Miranda Carey on their new collaborative work 'Just Till Midnight'. The electric combination of sounds makes for something k-rad to the max and has instantly become of the biggest hits of 2013. Every element is crafted to perfection and arranged to ensure this will be echoing in your memories for years to come. Christmas comes early as this sumptuous piece of neon candied magic is available for FREE download via the link in the player. Rock on, Mitch and Miranda!

Our final piece for the final Weekend Update for 2013 keeps things rockin and poppy with The Saturnettes killer new video for 'Television Boy/Television Girl'. Channeling a whole mess of great 80s influences this catchy song is sure to get you rockin all the right ways. From New Order to Depeche Mode and quite a few stops in between The Saturnettes tell a wicked story of technology and romance amid the interference and VHS tracking errors in an experience you'll be sure to be singing along to by it's end.

That does us for traditional Weekend Updates in 2013 on Synthetix.FM. Much time and effort goes in to every Weekend Update throughout the year and it always pleases me that they're often the most visited articles on Synthetix.FM, even long after their time in the spotlight has passed. Many thanks to all the readers and contributors to the Weekend Updates on the site throughout the year, they'll be back in full force for 2014!

There's still a couple of BIG releases to cover on Synthetix.FM next week though, so be sure to tune in during the week for more hot rockin action and I'll be finishing off the year with the Synthetix.FM Year End Synthstravaganza next weekend or soon after, as time permits. 'Til then stay 80s and keep on rockin.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lancaster's First Is Summer's Last

From the U.S comes Lancaster with his rockin debut album Last Summer. This record took me by surprise as after being introduced to Lancaster via Girlfriend Record's PlugDJ I dug a little further and found he'd just recently released his first album.  It pleased me greatly to hear such beautifully realised 80s synth sounds packaged in an eight track record that covered such a blend of old and new sounds.

The combinations of vintage and classic sounds and how an artist employs them in their music is something I love investigating. In Lancaster's album we find some familiar and unfamiliar synthscapes that he puts to work very well. There is definitely a 'Lancaster style' on this album, an individuality of sounds that crosses many 80s and modern day paths and offers a different, stylised dimension.

This said, Last Summer contains two halves of very different content. The first four tracks are drawn from much 80s inspirations and glow with a wonderful neon soul. The other side of the album, from tracks 5 to 8, we're presented with a much more modern and experimental aesthetic that is only fleetingly coloured by 80s sounds and moves into territory that's not covered on Synthetix.FM. This review will focus on the album's first half and I'll leave the remaining pieces to be up to you, the individual listener to appreciate.

The first side of Last Summer begins with 'Star Runner' which presents the Lancaster sound perfectly and succinctly with a driving beat and catchy melodies. The arrangements are crafted in a modern and energetic manner which enhances  the lead melody's powerfully bright aura. I think 'succinct' is a very good descriptor for the Lancaster sound as his pieces are condensed and delivered with carefully applied passages that don't linger about. The music gets to work, works hard, and is then done.

This kind of format really makes Lancaster's synthscapes vital and intense, which is especially true of 'Camaro 1985'. The build is set at fever pitch from the get go and climbing higher and higher results in a focal point of melodic energy increasing in potency with every refrain. The zeal and fervor presented in this piece is awesome to behold, it pushes emotional sounds into something fierce that becomes fiercer and more dangerous as each second passes, leaving the listener breathless by it's conclusion.

The Lancaster sound is all about this intense beauty, it's an unwavering gaze that looks through you, beyond you, the focus remains unbroken. In 'Chicago St.' this is expanded upon further with vast echoes splitting ephemeral strains of soaring jubilation. The sounds transcend times and refuse to be limited to one decade, or even dimension. The composition's midpoint sidestep into a jaunty new aspect of exploration is completely unprecedented, yet works brilliantly. The truncated ending, however feels a tad jarring, but I can appreciate this form unsettling the listener and allowing for the bare minimum of comfort zone.

'Day One' brings a much more traditional 80s atmosphere that is driven by a marvellously up front drum track. The narrative evolves with a synthscape reminiscent of Futurecop!'s early work, which Lancaster uses dutifully and beautifully. This piece retains it's 80s beauty through many modern transitions and transformations with an intense build that finishes the idea. There is no pay off or drop to the build, instead it is there for it's own sake and it's own evolutionary tale, proving the journey can be just as (if not more) important than the destination.

As previously mentioned the remaining four tracks on Last Summer are decidedly more modern in aesthetic and bereft of 80s emotions, however Lancaster's experiments in Vapor Wave synthscapes on 'My Love' and the exceptionally avant garde 'That Night' are certainly deserving of your attentions.

Lancaster presents the Last Summer album on his Bandcamp page here and it's a release that Synthetix.FM highly recommends you experience. Lancaster's take on 80s sounds and modern arrangements are refreshing and hints at many exciting experiments in the future that I hope we get to experience as his blending of Vapor Wave and more directly 80s inspired synth sounds coalesce and form. Be sure to follow him on soundcloud here for more rockin Lancaster action and give him some love on Facebook here too.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Synthetix Weekend Update

I think 2013 will be remembered for a couple of things particularly in the 80s inspired synth scene. First, for the completely rockin return of copious amounts of Italo Synth and second for the amount of amazing compilations released. The next of these is the epic Volume IVfrom Future City Records.

Once again FCR have packed their compilation to bursting point with a stellar range of producers and styles to really display the diversity of the label. Lots of scene favourite as well as new rockers round out the roster with twenty five cuts of golden 80s loving.

Grab your copy of Volume IV from FCR's Bandcamp page here and experience a celebration in the diversity and passion of the 80s inspired synth scene.

OK! Let's get rockin with second last Synthetix Weekend Update for 2013!

First up it's my pleasure to be able to share the triumphant return to music production for Discoballistic AKA Twilight Racing AKA Vaillante AKA Playmaker's Playground AKA 80s inspired synth scene legend Jurgen Desmet. This rocker's been rockin around the scene before it even was a scene and in his new track, 'Dickinson's Misery' we get to hear the darker side of Jurgen's inspirations realised as  a thumping dark synth juggernaut.

Continuing the nightmare is the new dark synth opus from 'Dan Terminus' entitled 'Shoggoths Stampede'. The narrative is bold and intense while the instrumentations are coloured with vibrancy and clarity. Dan Terminus's debut release is due out in Spring 2014 and is certainly promising to be the goods at this early stage.

Electric Dissection's new moniker is Strike Force 88 and in his latest piece we're presented with a wonderfully rich atmospheric piece that is stunningly realised. 'Anita' is beautiful in melody and emotion, with each passage expanding further on the refrain; exploring the elements with gentleness and then moving into a dramatic final act. Superb work from Strike Force 88.

Some more gorgeous melodies, this time from Midnight Driver and his new piece 'Cosmic Reflections'. A brightly fashioned melody drives a layered build up of synthtacular spaces and times. There's a great alien nature to this piece, it feels like a story from distant galaxies and the journey between our worlds is vast and awe inspiring.

Another new rocker for Synthetix.FM is Andrioux with his hot new track 'The Road To Santa Mira'. The first thing that hits you is the presence of the sound, this has a big, robust synthscape that really packs a mighty wallop. The piece is full of exploration of 80s motifs and keeps itself rockin at an easy cruising speed that allows the instruments to get into super solid grooves.

Upping the brutality is Vector Hold with his new experience in nightmare fuelled OutRun called 'Cobalt 60'. Action and drama are conveyed intensely with an unrelenting pace and a thunderous percussive track. The energy is frenetic, intense and totally k-rad to the max. You can currently pick up a copy of this for FREE via the download link in the player.

One of my personal favourite aspects of 2013 has been the return of Palm Highway Chase to the scene. Each track he's shared has been really special and his defining of his own sound has been a journey I'm very pleased to have witnessed thus far. In 'Saturday Night' we get to experience a loving dose of Synth Romance injected into the PHC experience. It's beautiful and rockin to the max. Be sure to check out the other track he shared this week too, 'White Tower', for more 80s romance vibes.

Speaking of triumphant returns, how about a totally kick arse new Act Razer track? I know, it took me by massive surprise too, but Christmas time is the season of surprises and miracles. Act Razer is the 'other side' of Miami Nights 1984, which is generally for the darker aspects of his music production. In 'The Return' we have a new role for Act Razer it would seem as more experimental synthscapes begin to form and evolve. There are shadowy elements at play too, but one can't help but be energised and inspired by the melodies and builds. The piano track has to get a special mention too. Totally rockin.

One of my favourite acts of 2013 has been Cougar Synth and this duo continue to impress me massively with their 80s synthsperiences. In their new piece we're treated to a more atmospheric exposition with beautiful cascading melodies that flow and rise and fall throughout the composition. 'Ricky Business' is currently available for FREE download also.

One track I can't possibly get enough of this week is RF Extreme new rocker 'You Win'. The lead melody is so completely infectious that it's impossible not to submit to it's magical embrace. This is then crafted into an intriguing story, full of twists and turns and finishing on the perfect high note. Wonderful work once again from RF Extreme.

Kicking the speed up and setting a course for interplanetary horizons is Android Automatic and his latest tune 'Starset'. The lightness and energy of this piece is a great deal of it's charm as the uplifting bassline and gentle melodies create a buoyant and charming journey into the cosmic 'Starset'. You can pick up a copy of this on iTunes through the link in the player.

The Farfletched experience is always one I'm champing at the bit to get a piece of. You really never know where each new piece he releases will take you and on his new track the journey is vivid and exciting from beginning to end. 'Etherneck' builds with dramatic passages with intriguing elements and sublime melodies before putting the pedal to the metal in all out high speed chase through the second act. The third act ups the ante on the action and leads to a fantastic conclusion. A really marvellous exponent of absolute perfection in crafting arrangements.

Injecting some funk into this week's Weekend Update is Shiro Schwarz with their totally rockin new synth jam 'Cotton Candy'. There are also hints of Library Synth in some passages as the authenticity is really kept as the focus throughout. The melodies are so full of 80s imagination and wonder it becomes entrancing in it's beauty. You can pick up a copy of this great track on iTunes through the link in the player.

I've been surprised by the lack of collaborations between producers in general in 2013 as opposed to 2012. I'm not sure if this is a truth or my perception but there appears to be a lot less of them on the whole this year. Breaking that rule is hot new track from KFDDA featuring Dress-2-Kill called 'Time, the Illusionary'. Their joined forces have conjured up a cinematic narrative that is full of 80s wonder and draws you in to it's magical synth vistas.

 Next up is a fantastic new video for Alessandro Parisi's 'Athanor'. The EP is up for pre-order on Bandcamp here and promises to be another epic Giallo Disco experience in the darker and more bizarre dimensions of 80s inspires synth music. The promo video for 'Athanor' certainly does a stupendous job of setting the scene of uneasiness with visuals from 'The Holy Mountain' blending unnerving well with the synthesized demons summoned by Parisi. Get your pre-order in for one of the physical releases of this EP now!!

A final note for this week's Weekend Update is to check out the hot new game project Sferro is involved in. Master Spy is a 'stealth based precision platform game' due out next year but the demo is available to play in your browser right now. The art and sound are fused into a spectacular homage to classic 80s dystopian sci-fi with a Blade Runner-esque feel. Needless to say, Sferro's music is the perfect fit for this experience. I'm definitely looking forward to the full version when it hits in 2014.

That does it for another Weekend Update on Synthetix.FM. Next week's Weekend Update will be the final traditional one for 2013,  the following weekend I'll be posting the second annual Synthetix Year End Synthstravaganza in which I'll be going through all my favourite records from the year before I take a vacation for a few weeks.

I'll be back during the week with more from the 80s inspired synth scene. 'Til then, stay 80s and keep on rockin.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lueur Verte Presents A Multifaceted New World

2013 is weeks away from ending, but this is the time of year when the unleashing of months of effort happens. A culmination of the year's work, marking a chapter's end and a chapter's beginning. In some ways Lueur Verte's Crystalica EP spans a time far greater as this is technically his debut EP, even though he's been active in the 80s inspired synth scene since 2011.

The past couple of years have found the Lueur Verte experience limited to incoming blips on the radar,  that came in from nowhere and dropping a payload of synthual pleasures before disappearing as quickly as they arrived. Tracks appearing on Aphasia Records and other compilations releases, single releases for totally kick arse jams like 'Malibu Sunrise' and the sublimely crafted 'Rockin' Summer'. It's only now that we're given the chance to experience a full five track affair from this producer. The wait has been long and the experience is a surprise, but it's certainly been worth the wait.

Previous Lueur Verte tracks were of a different cut to the suite of compositions on Crystalica. The energy and catchiness of Lueur Verte's earlier pieces has matured into a far more exploratory form, more akin to the grandeur of  'Beauté Glaciale' than his more dancefloor oriented pieces. This makes the five pieces on Crystalica feel more complete and part of a greater idea. The more I listen to this EP the more the tracks seem to ebb and flow within each other, passing through their individual ideas and leaving trails the glow brightly through the proceeding piece. The conceptual nature of  Crystalica makes listening to all the pieces (in their intended order) imperative to gaining the optimal experiential value from it.

In the beginning there is 'Lueur Verte's Theme' which really paints the backdrop for the EP's palette and tone. The synths are lushly engineered with an organic presence about them that alludes directly to the 'green glow'. The sounds cascade and radiate with a modicum of drama or tension. Instead we experience a vista of synthesized delights that move with a graceful ease. Melodies feel unforced and allowed their own space and time, there is no rush or haste, time stands still as the refrains make the colours even more vibrant.

The idea continues into the title track of Crystalica which takes 'Lueur Verte's Theme' and moves it through new horizons, onto reflective dimensions where sounds converse with each other in an esoteric language. Once again the mood is kept neutral with a balanced approach to the arrangements that rise and fall naturally. There is no panic or dread in these new worlds, even with clouds growing dark in the skies.

The breaking of the storm creates a calming effect that is completely unthreatening, and our faces turn upward to greet the life giving rain drops. This intermission then leads into 'Crystalica''s second act which adds a more emotional layer to proceedings. A unity of nature, a cycle of existence that brings new life to the barren surface of Crystalica's faceted surface. The chemistry is intoxicating and the results are wondrous.

From the grounds now fertile with creative ingredients 'Emerald Rising' begins to pulse and force it's way beyond the surface in an ascent to the distant, purpled sky. The pace is ramped up as spontaneous growth produces dazzling green shards of melodic gems. The story is told in a hugely descriptive manner with strata of synths being introduced and layered in a manner that becomes deeply involving.

A small reprieve initiates the beginning of 'Onyx Noir' before the powerful bassline adds a more obvious hint of drama to the aesthetic, then the very second things get tense the delicately formed melodies get injected into the mix to bring the balance back to centre. The elements ceremonially dance for superiority back and forth throughout this piece as echoes of time and emotions twist into a mix of dark and light.

The final piece of Crystalica is the very introspective 'Frozen Tears'. Melodies remain poignant and ethereal through each chapter, fragile and emotionally tender, before reaching a plateau of new vibrancy in the middle acts. A pained and tragic aura begins to emanate into the final parts of this experience, a bittersweet combination of the difficulties faced by humanity in existing as a part of nature, perhaps. The crystal shards that flow then become puddles and soon lakes in a distant world where the cycle continues.

Something that resonates throughout the Crystalica experience is a sense of something greater, there is a maturity to Lueur Verte's synthscapes that are full of depth and wonder. The five tracks all feel part of one larger experience and on their own actually lose some of their magic, which is then magnified upon listening to the entire production. It's themes and stories are deep and contemplative without resorting to extraneous dramatics in sounds or arrangements, which is absolutely marvellous as the melodies are allowed to to tell their stories in a completely naturalistic manner.

I could easily see this EP packaged a single thirty minute experience, taking the idea used in the title track to it's utmost evolution and allowing the listener have little say about how they experience Crystalica, but instead are taken on an epic journey into places that fully encompass the senses for the duration.

Lueur Verte's  Crystalica EP is presented on Aphasia Records Bandcamp page here, this emotionally rich experience is something rather special as it's presence and grandeur are stunning to experience as fully realised journey into the producer's imagination. The vision and realisation of Crystalica is a conceptual idea that Synthetix.FM very, very highly recommends you experience soon and often.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Feel The Midnight Heir

About a year ago I covered Like Vipers first EP release (available for your perusal here) and we're now privy to the next evolutionary phase of Josh Gallagher's retro odyssey. The new phase has evolved into a new moniker, shedding the previous life's skin and becoming Midnight Heir apparent.

On Midnight Heir's self titled debut the die set by Like Viper's has been cast asunder and re-imagined with a purpose that retains Like Vipers wonderfully rich energy and then expands upon these elements by giving them a more raw edge and further developing the emotionally involved melodic parts. As a result the five tracks presented are hugely diverse, possibly the most diverse of all the EP's of 2013, but one thing is for sure: it all works and it all ROCKS.

'This Is Vengeance' begins the adventure with synths and guitars rocking in glorious unison. The 80s homage is true and vibrant as instrumental elements are introduced in a manner that pushes all the right buttons and then takes things even further. Gallagher's previous work was always about the modern and vintage blend, often incorporating very opposing forces, however in this opening track we're treated to a hugely authentic 80s experience that is only really lit by more modern flavours in the sounds. The progressions and arrangements are golden and inspiring, melodies climb and the anticipation of where the music will take us becomes  an all powerful force the listener is unavoidably transfixed by.

The second track takes things even further into classic 80s sounds and emotions, complete with quality voice over samples. Leaning much more to the dramatic 'Badlands' is brutish in it's delivery but contains commanding rhythmic march that accents the melodies to great effect. The narrative development on Midnight Heir also displays a great deal of growth in the producer's ability to construct deep passages of heavily detailed synth action, never leaving you asking questions and instead leaving you asking for more.

Moving into the third track we experience Midnight Heir at his most modern. 'Battery' is a borderline Slash Electro vignette that bludgeons a path of shockingly powerful refrains before dipping into a more ambiant breakdown. The lead melody is archetypal in it's brutality and visceral energy. Punctuation marks constantly bring the frenzy back into a more controlled structure before regrouping for another all out offensive. For all it's ruthlessness there is also a sweetness to the story which serves up a delectable balance of savagery and wonder.

To say the next piece was a surprise would be a monstrous understatement as the chugging deliberation of synths and guitars stagger into view the familiar silhouette of Patrick Baker flashes against blackening skies as the millions in attendance scream for their lives. 'Tonight' is a dramatic and jaded deposition to loneliness and is told with Mr Baker's always inspiring vocal talents whilst the Midnight Heir conjures all manner of musical magic to keep the drained, running on empty vibe stumbling ever forward. Forward in a blind hope of some small sliver of returned emotions lurking somewhere in the darkened reaches of the horizon. It's a masterpiece of longing and desolation, and easily one of my favourite performances from Patrick Baker thus far.

Midnight Heir finishes on a high note that I was not emotionally prepared for and I still doubt I'll be able to fully understand it's wonder through many, many repeated listenings. 'The Singularity', simply put is, is one of the most incredibly vivid experiences I've had in all the music I've heard in 2013. Aptly titled, the single refrain that drives 'The Singularity' is explored in a manner so perfect and so refined that it's all I can do to contain myself upon experiencing it. The opening build segues into the most wonderfully absorbing passage of complete synthelation. The continuing journey lights up with such a triumphant brilliance that one must shield one's heart from the intensely passionate eloquence Midnight Heir commands.

By the time of the final act of this piece one is almost exhausted from the sheer exuberant beauty but then the most sumptuous guitar track is introduced to the experience. A nirvana-like plateau is attained that the listener is allowed to bask in, finally able to rejoice in the pure resplendent grandeur of what 'The Singularity' means. This piece of music is utterly flawless and it's fathomless depths nearly reduce me to tears upon each successive partaking. 'The Singularity' is akin to a religious experience via music for me; it's vastness is only eclipsed by it's beauty.

The journey across Midnight Heir's many moods and stories spans a time far greater than the year it has been between releases. The amount of diversity is incredible and each track stands on it's own as it's own individual idea and musical reality.

Midnight Heir presents his self titled debut EP on his Bandcamp page here at a frankly ridiculous 'nam-your-own-price' point. This is an EP you should give to, this is an artist deserving of your money. The pieces on this EP all feel like pieces of the artist himself and this emotional investment in one's creations is something none of us should take for granted or treat as a disposable commodity.

Midnight Heir's EP has effected me, it has made me feel new and intense things, in one four minute piece alone, Midnight Heir has shown me beauty and magic I can barely interpret. When it comes to the 80s inspired synth experience this delivers everything I could possible want, expect or dream of in one package. This is definitely a Synthetix Reference Experience of the highest calibre and something I hope you embrace into your heart and imagination; allow yourself to be enlightened to the refreshingly cool and ultimately rewarding Midnight Heir.