Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Third Annual Synthetix.FM Year End Synthstravaganza!

By Rick Shithouse

As 2014 fades slowly off into the distance and the credits begin to roll on another year we begin the third annual celebration of 80s inspired synth music on Synthetix.FM with the now traditional Synthstravaganza Top 10s of 2014 and Synthetix.FM Ultimix Mixtape!

This past year has been a hugely successful year for all the denominations of 80s inspired synth music covered on Synthetix.FM as every genre has witnessed development, refinement and even more importantly, much creativity. I look back at the Synthstravaganza posts from last year and the year before and it really brings a smile to my face to be see all the imagination and new inspirations being heard today. I'm not going to get into a lot of kerfuffle about how rockin this year was because I could go on and on and on. Instead, I'd much prefer to let the music speak for itself and that's exactly what the Synthstravaganza is all about!

I'd like to remind you that all these top 10's are entirely based on my own predilections and personal tastes, these don't reflect sales or listens or anything other than what I personally have enjoyed the most this year. The 8 80s denominations are Soundtrack Synth, OutRun Synth, Dark Synth, Electro Funk Synth, Pop Synth, Italo Disco Synth, Synth Romance and Synth Wave and also an Electronica top 10 that covers tunes not essentially 80s in creation and direction.

There's two new additions to this year's top 10's, something I tried to do last year but there really wasn't enough product to draw from. This year, there was ample to draw from! So much in fact that the labouring and deciding over these two new top 10's took the longest time for me to be happy with. These new inclusions are the Top 10 EPs and Top 10 Albums of the year.

The EP and album experience have finally blossomed in the scene with tonnes of spectacular releases in both formats throughout the year. Some very special EP's came out this year that really redefined what can be captured in the short form and the full length album format exploded with loads of concept albums, long awaited debuts, stunning sophomore releases and spectacular new albums from further established producers. That most of these great releases came out in a physical format also shows just how much the scene has progressed in the last twelve months.

New talent has arrived and flourished. New, bold projects have been embarked upon. And that's just on Synthetix.FM! This year saw the opening up of this site to contributors who write reviews, provide other content and generally make Synthetix.FM more accurately representative of the music coming out. Coming into the second quarter of 2014 I was getting burned out enough to be ready to put Synthetix.FM on indefinite hiatus until I found a way to keep on top of things more easily. I then had the idea of inviting contributors and staff to the site which I look back now at as a wonderful decision. Synthetix.FM is about the music and the people who love it, and those people are the ones that I invite to be a part of the site in whatever way they'd like to.

Moving into next year who knows what new and exciting things will come up, but I know for one that the future of Synthetix.FM is in safe hands due to the many members of the community that have helped out and continue to do so. I'd like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart who has taken time out of their lives to help Synthetix.FM out this year. It means a lot to me and gives me a great deal of faith that what we do on here continues to be valuable and relevant.

On top of this, the fantastic job Marko Maric does on the Synthetix Sundays radio show on Radio Pure Gently is yet another part of the experience I'm honoured be a part of. The camaraderie and feeling of friendship the 80s inspired synth community affords is something I'm very grateful for and something I hope touches everyone in the scene.

But, enough teary eyed testaments. It is time to celebrate and that is something everyone into any of the denominations of 80s inspired synth music should be doing. 2014 was the best year yet for rockin tunes and cool vibes, and I have every faith that 2015 will continue even more so.

Top 10 Soundtrack Synth

1, Victory Theme - Myrone
2, Ninja Destiny - Cobra Copter
3, Mall - Proector 101
4, Don't Call Me Hero - OGRE
5, The World Is Gonna End Today - Tommy
6, China Sundown - LA Dreams
7, Frozen Soldiers - Python Blue & Jon Of The Shred
8, Manhattan Docks - Prof. Zonic Zynth
9, Rejects Of The Wasteland - Nightsatan
10, Leave With Us - 20SIX Hundred

Top 10 Electro Funk Synth

1, Breakazoid - Mitch Murder
 Hairspray - Cobra Copter
3, Walk Like A Boss - Robert Parker
4, Burning Desires - LA Dreams
5, Time Shock - STARFORCE & Action Jackson
6, DownTown - iamMANOLIS
7, Funk This Ship - Phaserland
8, Made In USSR - Pulse 80 & StereoSonic
9, Different Machine - Amazing Police
10, Break It Down - Phantom Ride

Top 10 OutRun Synth

1, Escape Without Control - Dana's Vision
2, Run For Home - Beckett
3, Throttle Up - Dynatron
4, Breaking The Bonds - 20SIX Hundred
5, It's Supercharged! - Botnit
6, PoWer Prostitute - NightStop
7, Crime Wave - Danger Mode
8, Dark Pursuit - Street Cleaner
9, Chrome Beach - KFDDA
10, Running Wild - Tokyo Rider

Top 10 Dark Synth

1, Cyberpolis - Noir Deco
2, Humans Are Such Easy Prey - Perturbator
3, Abandoned Streets (Pt II) - Jordan F
4, Giant Golden Naked Woman - Dan Terminus
5, L.A. Darkzone - Palm Highway Chase
6, Within - GosT
7, Dystopia - Nightcrawler (featuring Vincenzo Salvia)
8, Graveyard Shift - Dance With The Dead
9, The Centaurian Heist - Cluster Buster
10, Devil's Due - Street Cleaner

Top 10 Italo Disco Synth

1, Domenica - Vincenzo Salvia (featuring Giusi Telesca)
2, Same Road, Different Ways - Plaisance & Claudia Ortolani
3, I Wanna Love You Once Again - Ryan Paris
4, IL Stallone - Muscle
5, Time To Run - Supervox
6, My Energy World - Project A
7, Galatine - Mild Peril
8, Train Of My Youth - Olegris
9, Femme Fatale - James Baker
10, Knight Of The Disco - Garth Knight

Top 10 Synth Romance

1, Made A Wish - LA Dreams
2,  (Could It Be I'm) Falling In Love? - Sunglasses Kid
3, Waves - Timecop1983
4, Traces To Nowhere - Mitch Murder
5,  Sunset Stroll - Robert Parker
6,  Fury Of The Flame - RF Extreme
7, Summer Drive - Killstarr
8, Inhalator II Love Theme - Nightsatan
9, Soft Scene - Phaserland
10, After These Messages - Bishop Of Battle

Top 10 Synthwave

1, Fearless Generation - LA Dreams
2, Have You heard - Sebastian Gampl
3, High Performance - Mitch Murder
4, Let's Funk Tonight - Tommy
5, Datacorder - iamMANOLIS
6, Your Move - Phaserland
7, Dance All Night - Rain Sword
8, Los Canarreos - Digital Native Dance
9, Exclusive Coupe - Myrone
10, Excellent Day - Pumping Body

Top 10 Synth Pop

1, Radio - Le Cassette
2, One On One - Sebastian Gampl (featuring Tommy Reeve)
3, The Deepest Blue - Kristine
4,Midnight Steps - Phaserland (featuring Heidi)
5, Darling Dreamer - Sunglasses Kid (featuring The Boy & Sister Alma)
6, Neon Summer - Diamond Field (featuring Nina Yasmineh)
7, Lost In Your Eyes - Timecop1983 (featuring Per Rinaldo)
8, In Your Love - Droid Bishop
9, Stay Sexy - The Wizard Lady Bros
10, Hot In The City - Muscle

Top 10 Electronica

1, Dopamine (The Power Of Love - Robots With Rayguns
2, Dance Or Die - Starcadian
3, Smoke - Isaac Galvez
4, Stardust Orchestra - TZARR
5, S w e e t B e a c h - CVLTVRΣ
6, EXP003 - Emil Rottmayer
8, California Knight - Mr Vtage
9, I Am Dog - Fear Of Tigers
10, Cone Tuner - Klockhaus

Top 10 EPs of 2014

1, Atlantis - Vincenzo Salvia
2, Myrone - Myrone
3, The Pump - Muscle
4, Thunder In Paradise - Plaisance
5, Ninja Empire - Cobra Copter
6, Los Canarreos - Digital Native Dance
7, Matter - Mild Peril
8, Reverie - Dan Terminus
9, Full Throttle - Dynatron
10, Doom Fortress - Voyag3r

Top 10 Albums of 2014

1, Left To Our Own Devices - Le Cassette
2, Interceptor - Mitch Murder
3, Frequency Modulations - Tommy
4, Electric Atlantic - Phaserland
5, Dangerous Days - Perturbator
6, Insomnia - LA Dreams
7, Noir Deco - Noir Deco
8, 195 - OGRE
9, City Hunter - Sebastian Gampl
10, Beyond The Blue - Droid Bishop

And finally the 2014 Synthetix.FM Ultimix. A two and a half hour mix of the top four tracks from each genre. A soundtrack that I hope rocks 2014 deep into your musical subconscious!

That does us for things on Synthetix.FM until towards the end of January 2015. I'm not exactly sure what date the site will be back with new content at this stage but make sure you check back towards the end of the month with all the rockin new year action and in the meantime Synthetix Sundays will continue throughout this period, and I'm sure I'll be appearing on that every now and then as well as the special year end/year begins show next week! Be sure to follow Synthetix Sundays on Facebook here in the meantime to keep up to date with Marko's show.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Andrew B. White's 2014 Synthwave Awards

Top 10 2014 Synthwave Awards

By Andrew B. White

Wayfarer Shades Award for best synthwave-orientated website that wasn't Synthetix FM - Neon Vice

Cut Off Muscle Shirt Award for the most releases that wasn't Sellorekt/LA Dreams - Jupiter 8

Beta Video Cassette Award for best synthwave TV channel - Luigi Donatello

Catwoman Award for most travelled radio DJ - Marko Maric

Palm Tree Award for best Dana Jean Phoenix song of 2014 - 'Dreams' (with Timecop 1983)

Crockett's White Ferrari Award for best 80s artwork posts - Quick Sex FM

Cocktail Umbrella Award for country most likely to dominate the synthwave scene - Australia

Take My Breath Away Award for best synthwave romance - Vincenzo Salvia and Powder Slut

Ferris Bueller Award for sticking it to pirate music sites - Retro Promenade Class Action Compilation

Fast Times At Ridgemont High Pool Scene Award for most anticipated album of 2014 that didn't drop - Kristine's debut

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Matthew Neophytou's Top 10 Of 2014

It has been a great year for all things wave-inclined. For me, ever since my first toe-dipping with Synthwave back in the ‘00s when Kavinksy (BD: Before Drive) and Danger were the most prominent producers, and throughout the years the site has been bubbling up here and there, the call back to ‘80s music, supported by the era’s visual style and neatly polished with today’s production standards, has captured this boy’s imagination for all things retro-electro.

 New producers have emerged and established ones thrive, as the genre creeps ever so much closer to becoming a solidified staple of electronic music through films, video games and online media. There’s only one way this wave is riding, and it’s up. Please do join me while I take you on a journey of my top tracks that have stood out among them all for the year of 2014. Disclosure: it was a hard decision.

 Honorable mention: John Carpenter – Vortex

10. Dance With The Dead – Invader

The musical equivalent of a hardcore power workout, Dance with the Dead duo Justin Pointer and Tony Kim have carved themselves a rightful spot within the genre with their high-paced productions. With a couple album releases this year including Near Dark and Out of Body it looks like they are only getting started. Also worth mentioning is the remix of Kristine’s 'The Deepest Blue'.

9. Nowtro - Late Nights

 Nowtro hypnotises me with his mix of sneering synths and cascading melodies that leave one feeling a bit hot under the collar.

8. Jordan F - Take Flight

 A track that oozes sex appeal, it might just be the musical incarnation of James Dean on a hover board. Just when we got our heartbeat to a normal rate after the Freefall EP earlier this year, Jordan F dropped his LP Slipstream and man, it’s enough to turn this boy into full-on groupie mode.

7. She’s Not Real – Wine – Dark Sea

 From the debut album Not Real Sound by She’s Not Real, comes this piece of seductive electro that takes you on a progressive ride through Mullholland Dr, Bladerunner-style.

6. Waveshaper - Bright Shadows

 Anyone brave enough to remix Make Up and Vanity Set is worthy of a listen to in my books and with good reason too. Off the EP Sounds that Kill, Waveshaper produced a gem with this one, injecting tension-building organ synths into a groovy beat that’s like Phantom of the Opera, the Arcade Game.

5. Steinbeck - Solaris (Mind's Eye)

 So this one is pure electro ‘80s rock complete with the vocals that push you to karaoke this baby while driving down the highway.

4. Fitzzgerald – 1980

 Released only a couple of weeks ago, this song just stood out from the crowd with its high kicks and energetic pace. It’s just one of those beats that brings out the Prince in you. You know, you just want to bust those moves on the dance floor, be all fly and all. 1980 comes with a guarantee to lift one’s spirit, no doubt in my mind. Oh, and saxophone vibes are fully present.

3. LA Dreams - When I'm With You

 Hailing from the dreamscape that is Los Angeles, LA Dreams just keeps hitting home runs with each piece he produces. 'When I’m With You' just resonated with me, it’s catchy pop-infused sensibilities and awesome vocoder sampling make it a truly kick ass song to play when you are head-over-heals for a special someone or just wanna footloose it.

2. Makeup and Vanity Set - Results, Revision

 Discovered MVS when I was perusing the internet for my next fix of synth and I was smacked in the face with 'A Glowing Light, A Promise'. It is a love affair I do not want to end. Creating scores for film projects and video games, MVS has really perfected the art of creating the atmospheric synth-wave track. 'Results, Revision' is a just a cracking example, which just so happens to come from an upcoming film, EIDOLON

1. Thomas Barrandon - Outside The Cave

 I become giddy like a schoolgirl with a kitten whenever Thomas Barrandon appears on my screen, there is this sense of maturity and emotive connection with his material, which has many layers and creates its own story within the realm of the synth. Off the powerful album The New Born Between Mountain and Sea released in Feb, this year, 'Outside The Cave' is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard in a long time. An emotional journey of isolation and reflection, it leaves you with an unknowing hope for the future. The end kills me - which is why it’s my number one for the year. Thank you, Thomas Barrandon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Michael CA L's Top 10 Releases of 2014

Over the remainder of this week we'll be sharing favourite selections from 2014 from some of Synthetix.FM's staff writers. This will serve as a great way to look back at the year and revisit some favourite pieces of music as well as have some fun. This will climax this weekend with the 3rd Annual Synthetix.FM Synthstravaganza on here as well as on the final Synthetix Sundays episode for 2014.

Michael CA L's Top 10 Releases of 2014

By Michael CA L

DATAStream - Corruptopia

In Corruptopia, each track has something interesting about it, with the songs obviously having been carefully composed, arranged and produced by a person who understands synthesizer technology and, more importantly, understands and loves the sound, atmosphere and feel of 80s synths as they were found in film, video games and other media from the era. Looking at the cover art is one of the first things a person might do when introduced to this album, and from the 80s visual aesthetic it's easy to see that this is a story that involves that classic cyberpunk theme of 'high-tech and low-life', involving a future that's technologically rich but socially and ethically bankrupt.

Phaserland - Electric Atlantic

The entire release radiates a clear passion for synthesizer music through a variety of genres and does so with a dexterity, expressiveness, and purposeful forward-movement towards new ground. Electric Atlantic is a beautiful and powerful release.

Droid Bishop - Beyond the Blue

An album of spacious power that contains some of the best hooks of any synthwave release that came out in 2014. A glorious tribute to the interstellar side of the 80s, spliced with contemporary-sounding production and some fantastic vocal elements.

Le Cassette - Left to Our Own Devices

What the members of Le Cassette have put together in Left to Our Own Devices is their cultivated and refined knowledge of 80's sound, production, tone, rhythm, melody, lyricism, pop-hooks, delivery and atmosphere. The synthesized result is a collection of music - roughly two years in the making - that's interesting, catchy, complex, and likely what the band members (all devoted lovers of 80's music and culture) would want to hear when they're enjoying a Saturday night with good friends, good drink and good tunes.The band's enthusiasm, knowledge and clear understanding of what made 1980's synthesizer music great has turned Le Cassette's debut album into far more than the sum of its parts.

Jordan F - Slipstream

The Rosso Corsa label didn't release a tremendous amount of material in 2014, but what it does release is inevitably of very high quality. Jordan F's Slipstream is a radiant example of the sleek end of the synthwave spectrum. It's beautifully produced, polished and is, through-and-through a fantastic collection of brooding, intense 80's-inspired music.

Mitch Murder - Interceptor

There's reverence, respect and revelry in this album. It's a tribute to the feeling of what it was like to grow up in the 80's and to be under the spell of the unforgettable media the era produced.

Timecop1983 - Journeys

A true aficionado of the nostalgic, atmospheric and cinematic side of the 80's, Timecop1983's Journeys is a beautiful release, brimming with fantastic guest appearances and tinged with tones that are subtly melancholic, youthfully energetic, and mysteriously dreamlike.

Haüer - Esperbyte

If there has to be a sequel to Ridley Scott's 1982 masterpiece Blade Runner (I'd rather there wasn't, but that's an argument for another time) and Vangelis was unavailable to take on the scoring duties, I'd prefer that Haüer was in charge of the music.
Enough said.

Wulf - The Summer EP

Excellently produced and very well-composed synthwave tunes that ride the "beaches, sunsets and fast cars" theme to heights that haven't been reached since Miami Nights 1984 virtually defined (or at the very least refined) that now-classic Synthwave trope. It's some of the most fun, well-put-together, mid/fast-paced synthwave released in 2014, and it's destined to become one of my go-to albums for joy riding on warm summer days and nights.

The Dust Collective - Synthia

A new producer on the 80's-inspired scene, The Dust Collective released his debut album Synthia as a labour of love and as his first foray into creating 80's-inspired, synth-based music. It has all the attributes of a producer who grew up in the 80's and loved the variety of sounds and atmospheres that sprang from the era. I knew Dust Collective was making great music that appealed to my synthwave sensibilities the moment I first heard his beautifully textured and melodic tracks on Soundcloud. I'm still stunned hearing them now, but with the release of Synthia, there was the added bonus of having those gorgeous tracks fully realized and polished to perfection, selected and collected together with a bunch of fantastic new tracks that I hadn't heard before.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dance With The Dead Send The Signal

By Jerry Herrera

Looking back on Dance with the Dead’s discography, and having had the pleasure of reviewing almost all of their albums, it sinks in just how adept they are at taking us to synth’s darkest corners and most bizarre dimensions. Some producers give us written backstory and other ancillary information to go with their music, just so we know exactly where we’re supposed to be thematically.  DWTD doesn’t really do that, instead they craft darkness and drama almost exclusively with their music. Send The Signal is yet another journey into the weird, another descent into madness, another tale of terror told through the medium of synth.

The intro track, 'They’re Here' is both shimmering sci-fi synth and pulsating horror bass, arriving at a place that is cold and ominous, like a clear winter’s sky. The theme of Send The Signal becomes apparent right away:  We are not star gazing in wonder, we are looking upward in fear.

'Poison' drops the listener directly in the middle of what I love about DWTD and is a perfect example of their overall style.  Heavy guitars and heavy synths rule this track, which escalates further and further in intensity until we are carried away by a terrifying melody. Fans of ‘50s sci-fi will appreciate the theremin-esque spookiness of it. Indeed, we are being taken to strange places, abducted perhaps.

'Not of this Earth' and 'Spacewalk' continue the stampede of the growling, grating synth juggernaut that is DWTD.  Throughout the year I’ve heard a lot of similar horror synth with similar basslines that I would describe as grating, but in a negative this-is-kind-of-annoying way. I am not aware of the production process nor do I have the words to describe it, but DWTD make their basslines sound like the purring of an engine or the growling of a beast, as opposed to the sputtering of a dirt bike. It’s this level of, shall we say, atmospheric awareness, that sets them apart.

Up next is 'Signals' which strays more into OutRun territory with some lighter synth work and echoed toms and some fist pumping snares. A Strange synth melody dances with an absolutely rocking guitar solo that’s over a bit too soon but I promise you will be yelling “Hell Yeah!” at your speakers.  'Take Me There' steps back a little for some tense drama building before breaking into more guitar teased mid tempo OutRun.  As with the previous track, there is a late blossom of sci fi terror/beauty that is absolutely arresting.

For the final act in their tale, 'Nightdrive' serves as a slower palette cleanser that doesn’t let up on any of the atmosphere but after spending the past few tracks in a state of breathlessness it’s nice to have a moment with something layered and reflective. It’s a track that lets us ask ourselves if what we witnessed was real or not, if the fire in the sky was just our minds playing tricks on us, if the faceless men who came to visit were just products of our own nightmares.

Whatever the answers are, what we are left with is yet another master stroke from Dance With The Dead. I am so proud of and pleased with these guys because they set the bar high for themselves and not only do they consistently meet our expectations with each release, they take us in different and believable narrative directions each and every time.  From the halls of the dead, to the depths of the ocean, and now to dizzying heights in the clutches of malevolent, otherworldly creatures, I have gone to many places with Dance with the Dead, and I will continue to follow them into whatever twisted nightmares they travel to next.

Dance with the Dead presents Send The Signal, which is available at their Bandcamp page here and this release comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Synthetix Sundays

Synthetix Sundays keeps on rockin through the holidays with another kick arse show!

Lined up this week are interviews with Valkyrie 1984, TCR, Hello Meteor and Fantastisizer!!

There won't be a Quality Time With Shithouse  this week, but I'll return for my final show of 2014 next weekend with a special Synthstravaganza session. Marko will still be joined by Paul 'Dress 2 Kill' Daly, for the usual hijinks and good time rock'n'roll.

The festive giveaways continue with download codes for the following albums up for grabs:

Blazestation - Uncompiled
Glitch Black - Interdimensional
 Lachi James - Paradise Lost
Fantastisizer - No Way Back
Tape Loader - Space Travel
Hello Meteor - Respect your Ghosts!!

And even more to be announced during the show!

Tune into Synthetix Sundays and you're sure to be a winner!

The rockin starts at 9am U.S EST for all of Synthetix Sundays' LIVE action on Radio Pure Gently. And you can catch up with us back here on Monday for a fully downloadable digital copy of the live show.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Hide And Sequence - Resurrection

By Jazzi Marzcat

Getting dumped sucks.  Getting dumped into a garbage dump sucks even worse.  That's how Snow, an android girl, wakes up to find herself, abandoned like a piece of scarp metal by her  owner, Jax.  This is the saga told by music producer Jason Taylor,  known as Hide and Sequence, of Perth, Australia. In his albums of incredibly addictive, and awesome electronic music, The Fall, and the currently released Resurrection.  While this reviews focuses on the seven songs of the newer album Resurrection, I strongly urge all listeners to also check out the first album, where the story begins.  Available on Dark Horse Audio's bandcamp for a "Name-your-own" price, there's no excuse not too! So check it out here.

The song 'Forever' from the first album is highly recommended to be heard, with it's lean towards early 90s synth melodies and beats, reminiscent like that of the band Cause & Effect, and their songs of that time. Most of Hide and Sequence's music does have more modern elements to it than 80s analog synthesizers, but the allure of the science fiction storytelling brings it back to that nostalgic feeling.

Now, unlike the first album, where Snow questions her abandonment, the second album Resurrection uncovers some shocking revelations that she was supposed to have been destroyed, as told in the song 'Skyfall'.  While the odds seem against Snow, the music and lyrics in Resurrection, portray her building strength, and courage.  Snow doesn't lay down and die, but starts to defend her existence.

The title track of the album states this fully without doubt.  A steadfast beat, steady bass, and a strong melody carry lyrics such as "I would rather die. . . in my resurrection", showing Snow's fighting spirit.  The songs 'Fragments' and 'Perfect Lie' continue Snow's confrontations of not only against her owner for abandoning her, but also towards the discrimination that Snow is feeling from the society that she is living in, which is evident in the songs 'Skyfall', and 'RX-1000'.  

'Fragments' has some cool bendy basses and swirling melodies, and the strong, powerful lyrics, "I want to be more than I was built to be". 'Perfect Lie' has a beautiful arpeggio melody, and nice dance-able beat, bringing a more upbeat-ness to the album, although with the highly confrontational lyrics, "You should have destroyed". This shows Snow is ready for the fight.

'My Darkest Fear', my favorite song of the album, has the best production from beginning to end.  Starting out with a symphonic string lead, the hauntingly beautiful melody begins to pick up pace with the lyrics, until a catchy beat hooks in the listener with cool percussion, and layers of synth melodies.  The album closes with the song "Breathe", that leaves us on a bit of a cliff hanger. The word "breathe" is repeated over and over again by our heroine Snow, as the song evokes the feeling of the of her will to stay alive.

An effective change in the new album, Hide and Sequence has expanded his storytelling by having different characters continuing the story in various songs, besides Snow's own soliloquies, (which are represented by vocals done through a vocoder).  For example, with the first song, 'Skyfall', it starts off with a fast pace arpeggio bass and a crescendo melody, to be followed up by a female computer voice telling Snow that she is doomed for termination. The music and the voice over, enhances the intensity of Snow realizing the deadly depth of her situation. We also finally hear Jax, her owner, and his callus disregard for her survival and search for him, in the song 'Fragments', as if a phone call of his is being overheard.

Lastly in the song 'RX-1000', a female news reporter voice, tells of a robot girl's search for her owner, over a cold, more industrial sounding synth melody.   Just shows how much the music, the lyrics, and the vocals are all perfectly matched on this album.   Also, if it's hard to follow the vocoder vocals,  you can check out the lyrics here.

Hide and Sequence has gone through lengthy efforts to create a believable world, and relatable characters not only through his music, but also with the visuals of the highly impacting artwork by Mariana Britto, and videos directed by himself.  A lone girl walking into a car's headlights is the cover we see on the first album The Fall, showing the desperation of Snow's waking into her dire situation.

However, for Resurrection, we see the same girl is being lifted into the sky, her ascension into a new life by her own determination, regardless of the threats against her.  This all breathes more life into the accompanying music, that is so fitting to the futuristic scenes depicted in the artwork.  You can find videos for some of the songs that make the story even more believable, here.

With a promise of third album in the works, Hide and Sequence will be a name to follow, especially to find out what happens to Snow, the abandoned android girl.  Available through Werkstatt Recordings, you can get the digital download here. As of the writing of this review, there are still some cassette tapes available to order also.  Resurrection is a very highly recommended release!!

Renz Wilde - Program EP

By Jerry Herrera

Renz Wilde’s latest EP, Program, brings us a more cerebral kind of nostalgia.  Instead of exploring the trodden paths of video game and film inspiration, RW takes us back to a time when we were on the verge of a technology explosion.  Now it seems strange to be “technophobic” but people were apprehensive about the idea of e-mail or being constantly wired into a global network at one time.  Rightfully so, perhaps?  Where does technology end and humanity begin if we keep giving way to machines?  Maybe we ourselves are merely ones and zeroes in some greater program.

This is a mid-tempo sci-fi cruise, and while there is a lot of familiar synth work happening here, there is also a very interesting, somewhat cold Kraftwerk vibe going on that fits the theme of the EP perfectly.  In four tracks Renz Wilde builds a world on the verge of the future, and all the wonder and fear that brings.

The title track and 'Broken Satellite' are the strongest tracks on the EP in my opinion, because they best represent the Kraftwerk-esque sound of machine music made by a machine artist.  'Candy Cane Express' does exhibit a strange warmth in its melody, signalling that all humanity is not lost.  I should also add that there is an option to purchase the Program EP with two beautiful posters of the album artwork.  For those of us clamoring for more synth related merchandise, this is a welcome stroke of marketing. You can pick up a copy of this great EP form Retro Promenade's Bandcamp here.

Maxthor - Black Fire

By JamesTheSuperGeek

Italo Disco is back and Maxthor utilises it to full affect with his debut EP, Black Fire. The EP has quite an authentic 80s vibe and creates a powerful synthscape. Full of emotive lyrics, iconic 80s basslines, synth leads and guitar solos, this album proves to be both accurate to the 80s and a quite affecting EP. Best songs on this album would have to be 'Black Fire' and 'Will You Wait'.

The EP opens with 'Black Fire', which is a cool, danceable and powerful track that'll be sure to get you moving. Next is 'Will You Wait' which is an arpergio driven track with quite a romantic and sombre, sultry vibe, with a glorious guitar lead which makes its presence known early, then retreats to the background somewhat, to make a return later with an powerful solo. Following is 'Colony', another danceable track with allot of heart and emotion, with lush synth leads that are guaranteed to get you moving.

'Flamingos' starts off slow but builds strength over the course of the song and still retains the same power and emotion of the previous tracks. The last song of the EP is 'Just Take Me Home', an Italo Disco interpretation of the song 'Take Me Home' by Henry Saiz. Maxthors rendition does it's own thing, adding lyrics to a mostly instrumental song which effectively compliments the original whilst still being respectful.

Maxthor's Black Fire is definitely worth checking out. From lush synth leads, emotive vocals, and awesome guitar's, Maxthor captures the sound and vibes of Italo Disco. The album is available at a name-your-own-price on Future City Records' Bandcamp here and I would definitely recommend giving it a listen. Also all proceeds will be going towards the recording of Maxthor's next release, so if you like what you hear show your support. Do yourself a favour and indulge in some quality Italo Disco reinvented courtesy of Maxthor.

Fantastisizer - No Way Back

By Rick Shithouse

One of my favourite new talents of 2013 is back with his second EP for this year, it's Fantastisizer with No Way Back. The Fantastisizer synthscape has always been one I find particularly involving. The emotionally driven melodies are always arranged with great care and delicate nuances are artfully developed. On No Way Back we're taken to new levels of synthual intimacy courtesy of Fantastisizer's imagination and this time we get to experience some of the darker colours in his palette.

Opting for open, spatial vistas of sound, Fantastisizer gives epic, background to his intimately instrumental love poems. The opening piece 'Rendez-Vous' keeps a tension in the air with cutting details kept in sharp focus against a marauding background, the follow up 'Mirror Of You' instead lolls buoyantly on seas of swirling synths with fragile melodies playing of the reflections of the clouds.

The darker side of Fantastisizer's psyche comes into view again in the title track which brings passion and fear together amid a swell of synthual nostalgia. These darker tones definitely give a depth to the experience that eschews the surface gloss and betrays a far greater undercurrent of the unknown, beautifully personified by 'The Stranger'.

The final piece resonates with much more positivity albeit in against a backdrop of misty adversity. The brevity of the piece keeps the thought succinct, however with 'See You There' finishing on a wonderfully uplifting note.

Fantastisizer's new EP is another fascinating work of 80s inspired sounds that always feel personal and balanced with the good and bad within us all. A delicate balance is where No Way Back is poised and it will keep you on this knife-edge throughout. You can pick up a copy on Fantastisizer's Bandcamp page here, which I highly advise you do as soon as possible.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

20SIX Hundred Goes To The Next Level

By Chris 'Python Blue' Day

I may be a synthwave musician, but I am also a soundtrack composer wannabe. While the synthwave genre by definition claims to be inspired by 80s soundtracks, among other retro music, any such inspiration seems to usually become heavily overshadowed by the sounds of the 80s pop charts.

That being said, a tip of my hat goes to 20SIX Hundred with his latest release, The Next Level. While such a title can be a clever promotion gimmick, the backstory for this work suggests otherwise. The album as a whole is focused on a dark future, with occasional narrations to help develop the story for the listener further in which we abandon planet Earth and humanity with it, and the gapless compositions are a nice way to tie everything together. 

The album begins with a surprisingly light-hearted intro instrumental. 'Meditation Phase' does set the stage in many ways with lots of slow flanging synthesizers. A lead melody kicks in with a swelling sound that only further enforces the impression of a Vangelis soundtrack.

The title track, however, begins to give the album a darker tone. The voiceover makes it clear that humanity is done for on Earth, and once the message is made clear, we begin to hear the beats of typical synthwave while still retaining a spacious atmosphere.

'Last Chance' carries on the voiceover alongside a very spooky piano-like synth. The inhuman voice, as spooky as it sounds with its tone and some of its words, is trying to get us out of the situation we are faced with, leading to an excellent buildup to the chase music that defines Final Exit'.

'Breaking the Bonds' is great buildup music. A subtle voice sample of spaceship crew preparing for launch is an excellent touch, as is the use of cinematic percussion, as the listeners attempt to disengage with their humanity.

'To Advance Beyond' contains one of the creepiest intros I’ve ever heard. It’s not until the rhythm guitar and synth bass kick in that I’m assured that this fits in with the overall theme of the album, and it’s worth waiting for. A bittersweet melody is developed alongside a haunting choir as we progress through outer space.

'Away Team' is a more downtempo breather for the listeners. The lead guitar is a nice touch, and it’s nice to hear complex articulations without the guitarist getting carried away in the moment with the playing.

In a similar vein is the follow up track, 'Higher Source'. This track, however, takes the slower pace even further, replacing guitars with a tenor saxophone and electric pianos, giving a nice jazzy intermission to the work as a whole.

We return to the slightly more aggressive tone of the overall album with 'Section 6'. The acoustic piano gives a nice creepy sound to the beginning, informing the listener right away that where we are is not exactly a safe place.

'Boarding Pass' takes a different rhythmic twist to the Nu-Disco sound that colors most synthwave, settling for a sound more reminiscent of electro breakbeat. Said rhythm is performed alongside another light-hearted, Vangelis-esque melody.

Things get even more interesting with 'Metamorphosis'. The resonant sound of the synth bass and its variable brightness really can give the impression of something of no fixed shape, a fitting interpretation for a track named after the Greek word for changing form.

Things are reaching a climax with 'Meeting Place', a thought that is made particularly clear through the return of a cinematic sound. Orchestral percussion and choir, with eventual electric guitar, plays very well this time around with the retro space synthesizers.

A shame that what I felt was the best track, 'Leave With Us', was the last original track in the album. This track especially brings new meaning to retrowave soundtracks, and makes me thankful that I’m not the only synthwaver dedicated to the sound of soundtracks as well. The outro is particularly a nice touch: abandoning drum machines in favor of cinematic percussion, and the voiceover returns to us one final time telling Earth that they need to leave or die off.

The final two tracks in this album are remixes of 'Final Exit' and 'The Next Level', both remixed by CTRL-ALT-DSTRY. While I regret to say I hadn’t heard of this particular producer before, they prove themselves top-notch with their interpretations of 20SIX Hundred’s concept.

20SIX Hundred has The Next Level available on his Bandcamp page here, complete with a CD edition along with the usual digital download formats. Overall, this is an excellent listen for any fans of retro soundtracks, and is without a doubt a Synthetix Reference Experience due to the cohesiveness of the ideas that are realised so vividly and the creativity and vision 20SIX Hundred has explored in each track.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Synthetix Sundays

Marko is finally back from his U.S. Synthwave road trip and rockin harder than ever with a massive return Synthetix Sundays right on time for your holiday season celebrations!

On this weeks show Marko climbs down the chimney and talks turkey with Hide & Sequence, Phantom Ride, OGRE and Phaserland! A veritable banquet of synth delicacies and rockin good cheer.

There are also the regular family favourite segments from the assorted holiday nut selections: Paul 'Dress2Kill' Daly and Rick 'Syntha Claus' Shithouse in Quality Time With Shithouse!!

Giving out the love and sharing that magical time of year there are also incredible exclusives to air from ToyoTomi, Phantom Ride, OGRE, Street Cleaner and Who Ha! Hear them first on Synthetix Sundays!

The presents don't stop there though as Marko digs deep into his sack full of love with download codes to give away for the following albums:

20SIX Hundred - The Next Level
OGRE - 195
Hide & Sequence - Resurrection
and I also have a Droid Sector Decay - Romance Breeds Jazz CD to give away for one lucky listener.

It's a gargantuan five and a half hour celebration of Marko's best rockin yet!
You really don't want to miss this; otherwise your holidays will be rubbish!

The rockin starts at 9am U.S EST, 1 hour earlier than usual for all of Synthetix Sundays' LIVE action on Radio Pure Gently. And you can catch up with us back here on Monday for a fully downloadable digital copy of the live show as well as the Quality Time With Shithouse free, purchasable and feature tracks to ensure the best of times are rockin with you all festive season long.

Quality Time With Shithouse Free, Purchasable and Feature tracks:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Phaserland's Electric Atlantic

By Michael CA L

I first encountered Phaserland's music when Future City Records released their fourth compilation album in late 2013. After hearing the tightly produced 'China Silver and Gold' - a highlight track on the comp, full of the funk-rock overtones and atmospheric synthesizer undertones that would become a signature Phaserland aesthetic - I was eager to hear more. Two months later, Phaserland (alternately known as Ross Trinkaus) released his first full-length album Night Talk in Paradise on Wave Runner Records, and from that point I knew that the retro synth scene had a new powerhouse producer on its hands.

With the coming of Phaserland's latest album Electric Atlantic, Trinkaus expands the themes and sounds of the first album and carries them beyond anything lovers of the synth could have possibly imagined. The album is a sweet blend of intricately-arranged, synth-centered, 80s-influenced music with a strong emphasis on funk and a deep focus on complex rhythms, arrangements and pop hooks. It blends the pumping, post-disco sounds and vocals of the dance-pop genre with the best that the synth funk genre has to offer.

It digs deep into an 80s-lover's sense of nostalgia and is a true successor to what I consider some of the 80's greatest pop moments, including those found on Scritti Politti's Cupid & Psyche 85, Prince's Purple Rain and Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814. Like the aforementioned, Electric Atlantic makes fantastic use of classic synthesizer technology, but the brilliance of it truly explodes from the speakers as a result of its union with Trinkaus' additional mastery of modern software and hardware. The end result is an album that's unique, inspired and fully-realized like nothing I've heard within any retro-inspired genres. The album is its own species altogether, and it's a beautiful beast to behold.

'Midnight Steps' (Featuring Heidi)

The album starts with 'Midnight Steps', a song featuring Portugal's Heidi Gubbins. Heidi, a vocalist who previously showcased her dance-pop vocal talents on Bixby Snyder's 'Moon & Back' single, will no doubt enjoy some much-deserved exposure due to her fantastic performance on this track. The listener is instantly keyed into the production, which is as gorgeously crisp as the composition is complex.

The vocals and lyrics are, like the best dance-pop, exciting and energetic and also seductive and alluring, with the classic themes of dance floor desire and uninhibited passion pressing against the listener's ear as partners might press against each other under the shimmering lights of a music club. In addition to having powerful hooks and an irresistible pop aesthetic, the song is also beautifully arranged.

Whereas a seasoned aficionado might be able to anticipate the changes in a more traditional dance-pop track as it moves from verse to chorus, with Phaserland you don't know quite what to expect as this song steps lightly from one shifting hook to another. It's a multi-layered and multi-faceted song that encouraged me as an enthusiast of complex pop music to think about the sometimes subtle differences between beauty and elegance.

'Covert Action' (Featuring Sunglasses Kid)

With 'Covert Action', Sunglasses Kid brings his flair for capturing the exuberant, fun-loving side of the 80s, including elements of 80s film soundtracks and the dramatic teen comedy. Perfectly suited to its title, 'Covert Action' has a vibe to it that's at once energetic, light-hearted and fast-paced while at the same time being suggestive of the best 80s espionage, cop or teenage escape-from-detention comedies that we know and love.

It's a song that plays like the tight, energetic score to a slick 80s teen comedy or that of an action blockbuster that composer Harold Faltermeyer might have dreamed up. And like the best action-comedies of that era, the suspense elements are never too heavy in 'Covert Action' to stop it from having an intensely fun and charismatically sleek appeal.

'Electric Atlantic' (Featuring Nikki Dodds)

Warm keyboard chords open the song, followed by thumping 4/4 drums and a huge guitar riff. London-based vocalist Nikki Dodds (a prominent and poignant presence on this album, contributing vocals to three of the tracks without mentioning the 'Hot Stunner' remix that concludes the release) delivers a performance here that has swagger, style and radiates personality.

Her voice, both glass-smooth and at the same time licked by a nightclub smokiness, adds a sense of liveliness and heart to the track and makes the already potent groove all the more vital-sounding and energetic. It's a vibrant dance-pop tune that's bursting with bright melodies and guitar licks, with energetic percussive elements that reinforce it to make it a highlight on the album.

'Sushi on the Monorail'

If you're like me, you know of certain songs that aren't remarkably brief in length but seem to defy the rules of time, finishing quicker than their real-time length would have suggested they would. At just over three minutes in length, 'Sushi on the Monorail' isn't especially brief, but because of its intricate arrangement, enjoyable theme of warmly-accommodated transportation, and its video game-esque qualities, it's the kind of track that injects truth into the cliché expression "getting there is half the fun".

The song maintains the charismatic warmth and vitality of the previous tracks as it escorts the listener via monorail from one side of the city to the other. It's almost like an interlude, taking the listener via monorail from an evening spent at the nightclub dancing and revelling to songs such as the previous three. As the song ends, so does the journey. The doors open and the listener steps out into a night air that's distinctly different than what was felt at the start of the journey. Gone are the bright lights and warmth of the city heart. The rider has now entered a different part of the city, this one containing darkened streets, abandoned factories and an industrialized element to it.

'Beyond the Factory'

From the opening moments of 'Beyond the Factory', the listener knows that the bright, shining lights and warm, electric-neon glow of the entertainment district and the city's warm heart have been left behind. The warm vibes and party-atmosphere behind, with this departure clearly indicated by a reverberating crash of steel against steel that echoes through the empty streets. The quiet trickle of dirty waste water can be heard as it flows from a gutter down into a drain and underneath the city, and there's a haunting, descending voice pad that speaks of unseen danger and mysterious inhabitants in this isolated end of the city. An electric howl can be heard that speaks of anger, pain and isolation. This is a dangerous and haunted place.

There's a glimmer of hope, however, as a complex, authoritative synth lead enters the mix and fights its way through the gloom, reaching for a place that offers sanctuary to the traveller in this weary and broken sector of the metropolis. As the song progresses, a fleet-footed guitar accompaniment co-mingles with the synth and the two make a break for the warmly lit bar sign that hangs a couple of city blocks away. The bar's name? 'Funk This Ship'.

'Funk This Ship'

Welcome to a source of warmth and vibrancy that the listener hasn't felt since stepping out into the night after riding the Electric Atlantic Monorail. 'Funk This Ship' is the sound of a Chicago after-hours bar where the talented mingle with the heartbroken and the result is an emotive and soulful funky vibe that inspires drinks to be poured and sorrows to be drowned in them.

Electric piano and a sharp synth lead duel in this track as it moves towards its conclusion, with an electric guitar entering the conversation as the bar's inhabitants drink in the sound and the feeling of it all towards a state of funk bliss.

'Pool Lights' (Featuring Sebastian Gampl)

An album favourite and one of the first glimpses into Phaserland's monumental new full-length album that listeners got a chance to hear via SoundCloud. There's a reason why Phaserland decided to use this track as a teaser to show his listeners...

Munich-based producer Sebastian Gampl has proven himself to be adept, just like Phaserland, at composing intricate, complex, detailed and oh-so beautifully synth-heavy arrangements, and the amalgamation of these two composers in a collaborative effort results in one of 2014's best, most beautiful and enticing tracks.

It's got powerful grooves that are propelled by tight drums and duelling basses - one tin-sounding and slap-styled, the other a low-pulsing synth bass that rumbles deep in the brain. There are parts to this song that hum and thump and others that ride a laid-back groove that is both elegant and sophisticated. The song is pure pleasure to hear and one of the album's best tracks.

'Space Command' co-written by Starforce

Starforce, the king of synthwave collaborations, brings a signature sound to this track, complete with a propulsive 4/4 beat and a future-brass synth melody that speaks of distant worlds and adventurous undertakings beyond space and time. It's science-fiction to the core, and despite not really aligning itself too closely to the rest of the album, it's a powerful song that's enjoyable as a stand alone.

It's a reminder that this is not exclusively a journey on the Electric Atlantic Monorail towards all its interconnected stops, and it's a joyful celebration of diversity of styles and individuals, bound together by common love of the synthesizer and by profound talent within the increasingly-broad synthwave genre.

'Your Move'

This banger of a song song begins with rock drums and an aggressive, overdriven guitar fade-in that would make Billy Idol jealous. The guitar soon gives way to an arpeggiated synth extravaganza and expands into a song that's a co-mingling of the two elements together. The result is a track that battles 'Covert Action' for supremacy as the best montage sequence you wish you'd heard in your favourite 80s film score back 30 years ago.

It's the sound of a training session before the big fight or of outcast teenagers getting ready to do battle in the streets against a rival gang, with killer moves on display and special moves being polished by the best of the best. Shredding, fearless and imposing guitar is in one corner of the ring and funky, flashy, skilfully coordinated synth is in the other. Both are legendary superstars within the Electric Atlantic arena.

'Hot Stunner' (Featuring Nikki Dodds)

Here we have another dance-pop track that features the exquisite vocal talents of Nikki Dodds. 'Hot Stunner' focuses on the warmth and casual, dressed-down vibes of summertime flings and fun, with lyrics like "We cruise, driving so fast, embracing the sunlight" coaxing the listener to drop the teenage angst routine and start appreciating the here and now a little bit more.

The song is a breezy homage to the carefree moments of life and the simple yet undeniably enjoyable pleasures offered by things like the sensation of sunshine on bare skin or cruising fast on winding, coastal roads.

'Hot Stunner' moves fast and has a bounce to it. It makes a person want to forget about the melodrama that often goes hand-in-hand with the overly-cerebral for just a little while. It encourages you to streamline your focus. To simplify. To zero in on the simple pleasures in life for just a few minutes of earth-bound ecstasy. Nikki Dodds, in that smoky-slick, commanding and shrewd voice of wisdom, believes you deserve it, even if your parents just don't understand you.

'Fourth Dimension' (Featuring Timecop1983)

Beginning with a sound clip from the legendary 1976 science fiction film Logan's Run, 'Fourth Dimension' (which features the prolific master of nostalgia-laced synthwave Timecop1983 himself) is the soundtrack to a trip down memory lane. The aforementioned film is a perfect example of the retro-futurism that is created when a film about a far-away future becomes weathered and dated. Instead of looking, as it was perhaps originally intended to, like an awesome glimpse into our world of the distant tomorrow, it becomes a wonderfully archaic glimpse at alternate history or timeline, where the futuristic looks vintage.

Logan's Run, as with many other media and cultural artefacts from times gone by, features a future that looks like yesterday. Or perhaps, like so many fashion trends and techno-fads, everything comes full circle and the classic becomes cutting edge once again, regaining a value that wasn't seen or appreciated the first time around. Retro culture, synthwave and 80's inspired music in general are a powerful example of this. Our love of the 80's era coaxes us to look at it from a fresh perspective and hold it in our hands again, except we brush it off, clean it up, reshape and retouch what we want, and maintain the vital core of it while building on it and turning it into something that's luminously fresh.

We're building upon a foundation that wasn't nearly done being mined, explored or understood the first time around, and Timecop1983 and Phaserland are both masters of taking subtle bits from times gone by and giving them the attention and care that is much deserved. 'Fourth Dimension' is a prime example of this process.

'Kissing in Berlin'

'Kissing in Berlin' is the first of Electric Atlantic's two legitimate slow jams (the other being 'Soft Scene'), and initiates the gentle come-down phase that ends with that track to close the album proper.

It's a beautiful track that has a certain swagger-like quality. Docile as the track might be, however, nobody's falling under the spell of sleep here. It's a potent and commanding song, with a bass line that has a synthetic thump to it and acts as a dynamic lead melody for much of the tune. This rhythmic centre is accompanied by airy synth pads that drift in and out of the song's main focus, and that thumping bassline as well as some hard-hitting snare drums keep the song edgy enough so that there's no mistaking the song for a lullaby.

The energies that this song harbours are radiating through the gaps that each sweeping and lush pad smear against the listener's ears. The song got an edge to it that's just sharp enough to hook itself into the velvet layers that brush against it. It's a deceptively powerful track and certain to be a highlight for any listeners that appreciate the power that can sometimes resonate from that which may initially seem innocuous.

'Straight to You' (Featuring Nikki Dodds)

Nikki Dodds is back here with a mid-tempo jam that's full of the good stuff that 80s pop music was made of. It's a straightforward tune with a traditional verse/chorus interplay that's accessible and feel-good.

The song is saturated in warm synths and chime-filled percussion that put a glow to the tune, and the lyrics are steeped in retro-romance, brimming with the kind of lover-speak that is so pleasingly reminiscent of the best that 80s romantic pop had to offer. It's a charming track and further lulls the listener towards the album's gentle conclusion.

'Soft Scene'

A companion piece to 'Kissing in Berlin'; 'Soft Scene' closes out the the album with another great slow jam. It's a gorgeous, lush-sounding track that exploits my love of the romantic and downtempo synth song. Whereas 'Kissing in Berlin' has a certain commanding presence due to the reverb-laden snare hits and rhythmic, marching bassline, 'Soft Scene' is more submissive and instead drifts like a timid-yet-graceful couple as they take tentative steps together on a softly-lit dance floor.

As if a pair of dancers opt to exit the beachside nightclub in favour of a walk along the sandy shoreline, the gentle sound of waves lapping that can be heard throughout the track takes over as the music ends. It's a beautifully fitting end to things. What started as a frenetic metropolitan experience full of diverse sounds and complex expressions ends with a streamlining of focus, with the music becoming less immediate and more reflective as the assorted personalities the listener's been introduced to throughout their trip on the Electric Atlantic pack up their things and head off in separate directions towards their individual destinations.

With 'Soft Scene' we're left now with a more streamlined and exclusive focus. The crowd has departed and it's now a one-on-one thing, with eyes moving from lover to the ocean-blanketed horizon where the sun will rise on tomorrow's new day.

'Hot Stunner' (Farfletched Remix)"

And as if to prove that two lovers on a beach are not, contrary to what they might believe while they're caught in that passionate moment, the only people on earth, Phaserland cheekily interrupts their romantic moment with one last funky treat. This final bit of exultation goes by a name we've heard before: 'Hot Stunner', but this time the track is remixed by Dundee, Scotland's Farfletched, who has made a name for himself remixing the works of artists such as Vincenzo Salvia and Futurecop!.

His interpretation of 'Hot Stunner' retains the bounce and energy of the original while adding a disco bassline that's got punch and power. It has octave jumps that cannot be shaken from the brain once heard, and the song is a friendly and welcome reminder that there's always someone awake and partying their ass off in the world of Phaserland's Electric Atlantic.

Waverunner Records presents Phaserland's Electric Atlantic album for purchase in digital formats on their Bandcamp page here. If tomorrow's new day brings another Phaserland release, all the better for fans of 80s-inspired music that is boldly progressive, experimental and innovative. Both his first full-length release Night Talk in Paradise and his new masterpiece Electric Atlantic prove that producer Ross Trinkaus has an incredible talent that is exciting to experience and unafraid to push musical boundaries.

The entire release radiates a clear passion for synthesizer music through a variety of genres and does so with a dexterity, expressiveness, and purposeful forward-movement towards new ground. Electric Atlantic is a beautiful and powerful release, and it is my distinct pleasure to praise this release as a Synthetix Reference Experience.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2014 - The Year Italo Came Back

Introduction by Rick Shithouse

Many would say Italo never left and has always been there; somewhere on the planet being loved and adored but I for one will always think of 2014 as the year Italo Disco really came back in the 80s inspired synth scene. Following on from the likes of Vincenzo Salvia, Batch Sound, Plaisance and Sam Haggblad in 2013 many purveyors of fine vintage synth sounds spread their wings on air Alitalia and basked in those warm Mediterranean waters while the sun energised those golden Italo melodies once more.

With the likes of Sunlover Records recent compilation giving a true home to this new love affair with those wonderful Italo sounds still ringing sweetly in my ears I took this opportunity to go even further a field to even more killer Italo synthscapes.

Courtesy of long time Synthetix.FM behind-the-scenes contributor Ricardo Jamiro I'm very pleased to present a look further east; deeper into Europe where the love of quality Italo rockin is being taken up by a much younger generation. Ricardo's been doing his research and come up with a bit of a spotlight on the Russian Italo scene that is producing some amazing music.

Russian Italo: A New Flavour For A Classic Recipe

By Ricardo Jamiro

Over the last few years the deep and defined influence of Italo-Disco has now been discovered and created in of all places - Russia. Primarily made by teenagers it is interesting to see that a genre that has never been "cool" or "trendy" be absorbed and reimagined by youngsters like SuperVox, Mr. Do Re Mi and Attack 41.

Although some of the music is derivative of Koto, Laserdance, Doctor's Cat and other Italo legends from the 80s they do seem to add a certain warmth, charm and a super-melodic element that the forefathers in the 1980's would be proud of.

Arguably the best of the bunch is Anton Vlasov who records under the name of SuperVox and has at least 17 albums of worthwhile material to plow through. Anton is obviously the Aphex Twin of Russian-Italo as you can easily see with all the glowing reviews and reverence heaped upon him, and has been supported by Synthetix.FM on a regular basis.

Obviously, a clandestine scene with no real exposure, it got me digging for more information about the magic teens behind these strange monikers and I now present some of my favourite tracks I've discovered during my many hours of pawing over soundcloud and cyrillic music sites where many a westerner would fear to click.

Here's my picks of what I've found thus far:

SuperVox - Video Shop

Olegris - A Part Of Energy (Extended Mix)

Mr. Do Re Mi - Hot Lemonade

VintageMusic - We Need A Little Harmony

Abbsynth - Galaxis

Cyber Attack - I Robot, My Name Is... 

Galspace Project - Night Fantasy 

Project A - Italo Party

You can download the discography of Project A here.

You can download the discography of SuperVox here.

All music is free to download, so please support these producers by following them where possible.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Roburai - Interstellar

 By Jason Taylor

 Roburai describes himself as a 'Cybernetic Warrior of Grooviness', and that's exactly how he's crafted his nice debut concept EP 'Interstellar'. This 3 tracker sits comfortably in the home of space synth and synthwave, but he also tips his hat towards Psytrance and good old fashion 80's pop too.

When I first listened to the opener 'American Thunder' I really envisioned dawn breaking over Cape Canaveral before hurtling towards the stratosphere. His ability to utilise interesting synth layers to convey different tangents in the one track is a nod to his producing chops, in that you could tell time was spent here cultivating the compositional ideas, and not trying to jam a round peg into a square hole.

Zipping past planets with the sun in your rear view space mirror, 'Ion Drive' rumbles along with a great use of counter melodies, synthscapes and creative reverb fx's. I've always been a fan of breakdown edits, and what Roburai has programmed here works incredibly well, feels natural given the pace of the track, and more importantly, not overused.

My suggestion for this release would be get yourself your headphones, a big pillow and your favourite Sunday afternoon couch. That is until we get to the closer 'Superluminal' because you'll be up boogying on the couch within 16 bars. Here we hear Roburai busting out the lead guitars and vocals as good as any 80's pop star, energetic and anthemic until the beautiful close allows you to fall back gently onto the couch, roll over and hit repeat. Very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM. Pick up a copy of Roburai's 'Interstellar' from his Bandcamp here.

Marco Maiole - Pollen EP

By Matthew Neophytou

Someone get me a butter knife because I have some honey to spread, that’s right I’m bringing out the cheese with this one but you’ll understand why when you set your ears on the “Pollen” EP by Italian Marco Maiole, A slick produced effort with praise from fellow producer Makeup and Vanity Set, do I need to go on? Pollen is a mish mash of Marco’s 80’s disco and modern electro influences and funks it all up silver lined with digitised vocals.

'Toonite' a partnership with producer Miami Mai (who gave us 'Summer Anthem' a while ago) produces an intro worthy of a Tycho track that blasts into a playful piece of electro.

Getting down to the sound of the EP we have 'Still Familiar' which sets the bar for the rest of the tracks with its varied arrangements against the back drop of a solid upbeat, that is pulled through to 'Histamine Antagonist' and the title track 'Pollen' without getting repetitive. I kept 'Slide Mountain' for last, as it is my favourite; melodic piano work, a slamming vocal sample and sprinklings of percussions just get me into the mood to bust a groove.

Telefuture Records presents Marco Maiole's Pollen EP, available in various digital formats on Bandcamp here. It's very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM to anyone who likes their wave with a tune of cool.  

Cobra Copter - Ninja Empire

By James The SuperGeek

Cobra Copter came onto the 80s inspired synth scene early this year with The Golden Age in which he really captures the golden age of the 80s (see what I did there) with catchy and powerful synth melodies that demonstrate a true understanding and mastery of the 80s style and aesthetic to create a glorious and immersive experience. He followed this up with Machine Age which was released mid this year. A strong follow up to The Golden Age, and delivered an evolution and continuation of the style implemented in the Golden Age but retaining identifiable motifs that has strung his catalogue together.
So how does Cobra Copter follow up his previous two efforts? I'll let you guess. Here's one clue: What's the coolest thing you can think of? That's right! Ninjas! For Cobra Copter's latest release he evokes the Ninja in us all and it is quite the awesome experience.

Stand out tracks off this album would have to be 'Ultimate Ninja', 'Ninja Mission' and 'Ninja Destiny'. This album tackles a side of the 80s that i haven't seen many producers attempt in really submersing himself in the classic ninja movie soundtrack. 'Ultimate Ninja' feels like it is intended to satisfy the audience that wants a standard 'banger' (as the kids call it) and gets it out of the way early to give Cobra Copter plenty of room to explore the deeper elements of the Ninja aesthetic.

'Ultimate Ninja' is an epic track with a powerfully emotive synth melody which strings the track together, giving it a lifeblood all its own. Listening to this track makes you feel like an ultra badass and at multiple points in the song I feel compelled to pull out a couple of katana's and fight a ninja army. The remainder of the album is much more calm in comparison but still retains a solid level of badassery, from 'Ninja Missions' smooth bass and pan-flute to the synth leads in 'Ninja Destiny'. This album is carried allot by bass and percussion and it creates a very cool and massively individualised aesthetic.

This is a solid progression of Cobra Copter's music and style and it leaves me very excited for what he will produce in the future. Cobra Copter does something with this release that I haven't encountered much in other synthwave releases and with the current rate at which he is releasing we won't have to wait long. Ninja Empire is a badass edition to Cobra Copter's body of work you need to experience as soon as possible. You can pick up a copy on his Bandcamp here and there's also a Limited Edition Cassette which i would recommend checking out while they last; which won't be long. So grab your katana, sharpen up your shurikens and let Cobra Copter be your guide through the Ninja Empire.

Midnight Static - The Colorwave EP

By Jerry Herrera

Midnight Static brings us the Colorwave EP, which starts off with 'Dreaming of ‘84', which is a pretty by-the-numbers synthwave track.  This isn’t a bad thing, of course. I will never knock a producer for stepping in to the scene and putting forth a genuine effort. But the quest is for music that is truly special and that will further the genre or bring it to new people.

So when 'Midnight Drive' blossomed into fuzzy basses and dreamily distorted guitars I was so happy that Midnight Static was more than I had expected. This track is the sound of a lovely buzz enjoyed in the back of a cab, in the heart of the city, with someone’s hand in yours.

The Colorwave EP is full of similarly comfy vibes.  The tempo never strays too far upwards, the basslines stay fairly fuzzy and the synths are simultaneously exciting and cause for calm. What I really love about this EP is the imagery that is drawn out of me when I listen. I see sunlight through tree branches, I see midnight traffic moving like blood cells through the city’s veins, I see children playing Nintendo in their pajamas.

Midnight Static is a bit like M83 by way of 1983.  The Colorwave EP exists in a twilight zone between synthwave and dreamwave, retro and chill.  Outside of the EP Midnight Static even strays into post rock territory, and I mention this because I went and got a hold of every track I could just to make sure my enthusiasm wasn’t misplaced, and thankfully what we have here is a genuine creative force.  This is an artist that paints murals of synth and it’s a love story from beginning to end.

The Colorwave EP comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM and is available on Midnight Static’s soundcloud page here for free download.

Dashcam - Getaway Pt. 2

By Michael CA L

At times ice-cold and razor-sharp and at others, more delicate and lined with a fossil-fueled warmth, Dashcam's debut EP The Getaway Part 2, is an album full of twists, turns and emotional ups and downs that plays like the hypothetical score to a yet-unmade futureheist film. The entire EP has a cinematic feel to it, and the track names and title of the EP itself imply there's a story being told within the music - one involving crimes being committed, chases ensuing, and the threat of dire consequences in a dangerous, noir world becoming apparent as the plot thickens.

The first two tracks - 'You Can Run But You Can't Hide' and 'Escape Plan' - move the listener through the sonic equivalent of a credit roll and the introductory glimpses of characters and plotlines. They start the EP off with an innocently hopeful mood and tone, with sweeping pads and vocoded vocals courtesy of O.Tune, but things take a darker turn with 'The Heist', where it becomes apparent that there are no clean getaways in Dashcam's future world.

Beginning with a menacing, rhythm-centered introduction and then expanding itself with darkly atmospheric melodies, 'The Heist' is the listener's first real taste of tension and conflict in Dashcam's tale. The marching fierceness of the rhythms are juxtaposed by the smoothness of the synth pads and cold precision of a vocal sample that sounds like a knife being slid slowly across a sharpening stone. It's the sound of professionals at work in a trade that is both dangerous but also potentially lucrative in its payoff, and allows the listener to understand the scope of the crime and its consequences. 'The Heist' is the album's point of no return, where everything afterwards will be in direct relation to moments being defined in the here and now.

'The Getaway Part 2' is perhaps the climactic focal point of the EP, in which the dream of safety dissolves completely and the listener now understands that there's no way forward for the characters in Dashcam's story except by way of immediate and violent manoeuvring. There's a threatening tone throughout the song, with siren-like synths filling any empty space with nervous tension and fast-paced drums hammering the listener like the cylinders of a getaway car. There's danger written all over the track, but as the track fades, so does the intensity of the moment. The chase has ended, the pursuers are left watching slowly diminishing tail lights, and the hero-thief, miraculously, will live to see another day.

The EP's final track, 'Some Long Kiss Goodnight', acts as a bookend to the release's introductory song 'You Can Run But You Can't Hide', and brings back the same tone of hopefulness, promise, and also perhaps a certain amount of naivety. Did the hero actually make a clean getaway or is danger, for the moment unseen, still only one city block behind?

Like the best narratives, the ultimate meanings and resolution are open-ended and left up to the listener to decide, but as the old truism dictates, the journey itself is often more important than the destination, which is most certainly the case with Dashcam's The Getaway Part 2. It's a concise, tightly-put-together synthwave odyssey that's immersive, engaging and a hell of a lot of fun.

Dashcam's The Getaway Part 2 is available on Future City Records' Bandcamp here and comes highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.