Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Plug And Play Betamaxx's Swan Song

By James Mann

Hypnotic. Lush. Sublime. These words come to mind and even fall short when attempting to characterize the music of Betamaxx on paper. The compositions of this music wizard, who without reservation falls into the upper echelon of the scene, creates soundscapes so moving, so nostalgic, and so touching that his work falls into a category of its own. Betamaxx has been generating superb synth based compositions for years now, gracing listeners with his intuitive, thoughtful and dynamic tracks which cover and evoke such expansive ranges of emotions and talent. His latest release, Plug and Play, is a stunning piece of work, delving into the deepest corner of this musician's prodigious mind, and transcending the best synth based, retro themed tracks out there.  

Through past albums such as the explosive debut release Legacy, to more current works including Interface and Sophisticated Technology, this artist has managed to pioneer and develop such a unique and  impressive sound with complexities in instrumentation and rhythms, while touching on multiple genres. His ability to retain that signature production and feel while growing and developing as an artist has kept listeners strapped in with headphones along for the sweet ride.

This last and final release for the Pittsburg native spans a wide array of gorgeous melodies and beats, putting this enchanter of arrangements in prime position to deliver his strongest and most impressive album yet. "With Plug & Play I essentially wanted to show what I'm capable of in terms of the different derivatives of synthwave music. I wanted to put my best foot forward with this release by picking from what I feel is the best I have to offer with this project."  In a producer laden world driven by plug-ins used to emulate instruments, Betamaxx has an arsenal of hardware synths he uses to create tracks, and the authenticity, thickness and richness of these sounds are verified through his exceptional final journey.

'Take Off' launches the album into full throttle, and transcends the listener directly into the world of Betamaxx. It's a beautiful and dark song, a delicate balance this artist has on lock with his proficiency in arrangements and musical sensibilities. That signature distant and pensive arpeggiation of lush synths stamp a familiar sound of his, while venturing into new territory with unapologetic freshness. Quickly the track escalates into a breakbeat, layering glassy melodies on top of rich, full bodied synths and drums to create a gorgeous soundscape that quickly fills the speakers, channeling the confidence and talent of this powerhouse. A great retro themed instrumental indeed.

There are times as an avid audiophile you crave to hear the right notes, the right progressions to satiate your ears. 'Integrated Circuitry' nails it, combining somber and lush chords to culminate in a sonic wall of pure Betamaxx bliss. A beautiful, pensive melody is laid out with care and a strong 4/4 beat carries the track, needless to say an emotional connection is achieved. I must interject here and say Betamaxx knows production. He also knows drums. The crafting of his sound is delicate and full of purpose, 'Integrated Circuitry' is no exception. I am reminded how well his instruments are mixed and mastered, particularly on this piece. One of my favorites on the album.

'Dreamer' featuring Rat Rios is a hauntingly beautiful track full of energy and emotion. The vocal accompaniment allows for a perfect fit, demonstrating another side of this artist who can create tracks that I dare say are club and radio worthy. A beautiful retro based/disco rhythm with sequenced synths carry the flowing notes of the Betamaxx machine to a dimension filled with light and wonder. There is a sense of sadness and emotion in the crystalline voice of Rat Rios that sends chills up the spine, blending into an immense track that is truly enjoyable. I visualize myself on a late Saturday night swaying on a packed dance floor, eyes closed with fractals of light streaking across my closed eyes while this gem plays on. Stunning track and without reservation one of the best on the album.

'Mechanized' is an incredibly thoughtful piece, with melodies that evoke memories of the NES/8 bit world, however with much greater sophistication. A driving rhythm lays out a platform that evolves into a world of full-bodied synths and possibilities that blend effortlessly. This track takes a more thematic approach, as I envision 80s technology and equipment being showcased in a commercial through montage fashion. The delight in Betamaxx tracks is allowing the listener to imagine and draw on any visual they want, as the music fits so well in different situations.

It's your first day of school. You walk through the hallway in unfamiliar territory amid a haze of sounds and activity, stopping to fidget with your new locker combination. You put your books away just as the girl from homeroom breezes by and flashes a smile in your direction. A step back into a simpler and more innocent time in life, 'Take me Back' is pure nostalgia and one of the greatest arrangements on the album. Growing up in the 80s, I instantly remember moments and memories I had shelved until hearing this piece; funny how the power of a particular synth sound and chord progression brings that all back. A true journey of bliss filled melodies, driving bass and drums that turn this into one of the most gorgeous retro-based tracks I've ever heard.

A calypso sounding synthesizer kicks off the next track, 'Life on the Grid', and develops into a breakbeat journey filled with pleasure inducing vibes, eventually turning into a sweet disco dance celebration. What a treat, as it's a collaboration with another synth master from Pennsylvania, the one and only Arcade High. Combining the two styles of these artists are effortless and sweet, as a bouncing complex baseline gives way to lush arrangements on top. 8-bit melodies blend in from Arcade High, reminding me of his classic 'One Year Ago'.

'Regeneration' is a turning point in Plug and Play. Betamaxx shifts gears and takes a fast turn into a ravaged, desolate landscape with the best imaginable soundtrack. An intense, driving bass coupled with an echoed vocal backdrop play into a track of monumental proportions. The synth lead in this is so strong and thematic, I can't help but wonder how deep the inspiration was behind this. The richness and layout of the notes and drums have such confidence, it's apparent to the listener this artist is master craft and has been creating music for years. Is that cowbell I hear? Perfect. Halfway through the track I'm blown to orbit with extremely detailed synth work that proves this man is not just chords, but a proficient machine set to destroy and claim a spot with one of the greatest tracks I have heard in the genre. Fantastic.

Sleek. Sexy. Smooth as ice. 'Disco Dust' is a track unlike one I've ever heard from Betamaxx. Lo-fi disco funk comes to mind, as a crawling bass and electro-house drum escort you into a late night club filled with dancers, dollar bills and shame. Talk box vocals from Mike McG creates a suave finesse that is so fitting. I really love this, as I stood up from my computer to test my strutting moves. Once again, the diversity of this artist is evident, the genres are crossed and still under the umbrella of the Betamaxx sound.

'Guided by Moonlight' is a sensual piece that builds on the familiar warm synth sounds of the 80s, gaining a nice momentum as it progresses. The allure is strong in this, as an interlude-esque melody enters and is quickly supported with an appropriate synth bass and drums, ramping up the energy into an outrun style track. Excellent driving tune, as the shimmering notes and rhythm block out anything else in the mind apart from the music. Classic Betamaxx sound, and check out the complex tom work in the bridge!

'Electric Cruise' is a hypnotic, vocoder adventure traversing a different side of Betamaxx. Deliberate and slower than his other tracks, this crafted composition blends warm synth sounds and even moog-oriented psychedelic melodies, taking the listener on a magnificent journey through several genres and decades. I really enjoyed this, as the placement and pacing fit perfectly on the album in addition to being a marvelous piece. I felt Tangerine Dream/Jarre melodies in this, and after asking Betamaxx about his influences, the response was fitting.  "…legends like Georgio Moroder, John Carpenter, and Tangerine Dream have been among a few of my favorite inspirational artists behind this project."

'Departure' is an awe-inspiring and aptly named track for the last segment of the Betamaxx journey, and what an astounding piece of work it is. The emotion spills through each note in this almost ambient/down tempo arrangement, carefully and considerately wrapping up a project that has been years in the making. Rich, deep synths cover a backdrop in earnest, while a post-rock guitar along the lines of Hammock blend together in a highly emotional manner. The realization that Betamaxx will be retired hits home.

Plug and Play is a remarkable album, and I would say without reservation it's a masterpiece in the Betamaxx collection. Exceptional arrangements, retro and future vibes, and astounding production value leave this as a chef d'oeuvre for this one man machine. Betamaxx delivers on all fronts and exceeds any expectations you may have had regarding his last release. It's rare to see an artist encapsulate and own a sound that offers variety, crossing genres and at the same time continuing to produce amazing music across such a dedicated  fan base. This artist's ability to paint the soundtrack to our lives, to our past, and to our future is a beautiful thing. Plug and Play is available here through Telefuture records in digital formats and limited edition cassette preorder. Plug and Play comes very, very, highly recommended through Synthetix.FM.

I have not yet delved into the departure of Betamaxx from our beloved scene. I wanted to hold off until the end of this review, and to be honest there isn't much "delving" to do. For several years this artist has not just been a force in the scope of retro based artists, but one of the most influential as well, having created and patented such a unique sound to share with all synth lovers and in their collections at home. The love and music he's created and shared with listeners has been immense. However, there are times when an artist feels they have outgrown a project and have to move on to other endeavors, not for the fans but most importantly for themselves.

"The end of the road is a very bittersweet feeling with Betamaxx. A part of me still really wants to produce this music, but at the same time i feel that it is time for me to move on to something different to grow as a musician. The fans, and friends i've met along the way have been amazing. The support for this project has grown more immensely than i would have ever thought possible."

Thank you Betamaxx. It's never good bye. It's see you later.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


FM-84 - Los Angeles EP

By Matthew Neophytou


Having been released just a couple of weeks ago FM-84’s – Los Angeles has been making waves throughout the retro sphere with extreme good reason. The Scotsman resident of San Francisco, has compiled a love letter to the genre we all know and breath.

Throughout the album sunset glistened saxophones kiss the breezing drums cascaded by melodies, as most evident in in tracks such as 'Delorean' and 'Outatime' bridged by slow atmospherically cool tracks 'Nightdrive' and 'Los Angeles', ending in a synth driven number 'Max'.

The over all feel the EP gives me is that of fellow San Fran electronic outfit Tycho, in the sense that FM-84 takes what we relate to the retro genre, strips away the dramatic and by having the keen ear to keep the basics, has in fact given Los Angeles a fresh level of nostalgia.

FM-84's Los Angeles gets a very, very high recommendation from Synthetix.FM and is available at his Bandcamp on several digital formats here and be sure to also check out his latest single Mainframe here, a bit deeper outing but no less awesome.

Nightcrawler - Strange Shadows EP

By Jason Taylor

George Gold's experience as a art director is certainly the crux behind his latest offering of his alter ego, Nightcrawler. Inspired by the Italian Giallo and horror cinema of the 80's which if your interested in, will require some research on your behalf, because it's too much to discuss here in a paragraph or two. The album artwork is cleverly designed as a classic horror movie cover you'd expect to find at your local video store complete with name star casting.

The five original tracks cover all the sonic expression required for composing this style of music. Ominous, brooding textures and rhythms, lots of maniacal suspense and stabbing synths and screams. However, what George has created here really can be described as a work of art fit for some sort of audio art installation with patrons wandering around in weird bird masks. I get a sense that each track is meant to represent a specifically inspired horror scene in George's head and the compositions really takes you there.

I really felt like I was being stalked by something unseen and unclean and I was only seconds away from my annihilation, then transported to a watery dungeon while desperately trying to claw my way up the walls towards a pin prick of light. The stand out track here for me would be 'Calvary' (featuring Vincenzo Salvia). Like with all his other tracks, every sound has been chosen carefully to convey the exact message it serves, and every layer has been placed lovingly across the spectrum to allow a fantastic sense of space yet with a heavy anchor glueing it all cohesively together.

Naturally the remixes bring about the upbeat, four on the floor flavour to the record. The artists clearly were chosen for their different styles and what they would bring to the table in terms of reinterpreting the original material, and each stands alone in showcasing their respective remixing talents, but the stand out remix here for me is Péndulo Oculto (Umberto Remix). As dark as the original version was, this goes to a whole new level with huge booming percussion, sinister, hair on the edge of your neck synth leads building into a massive hurricane layered wall of sound. I think a good remix pays homage and respect to the original while attempting to engage the listener into checking out their own material, which Umberto has succeeded here for me. 

Strange Shadows comes highly recommended from Synthetix.FM and you can pick up a copy from the Nightcrawler Bandcamp page here.

Nitelight - Bliss-817

By Matthew Neophytou 

As we know there are many sub-genres of electronic music - especially within the retro corner - many producers dabble in mixing some together and achieve great audio heaven, whereas others on the other hand, end up the equivalent of a rewinding cassette tape, using an HB pencil.  

Nitelight is far from the latter, presenting us with their second outing Bliss-817, a well-crafted space journey of the experimental kind.

'Running From The Past' is an outrun track if I ever heard one with an underlying hint of Italo electro that pops up every once in awhile but not defining it at all. 'Terrace To The Stars'; saxophone, drums and a vocal breather held together based in a kick-beat and drums, what’s not to love?  

'Wormhole' is the merging of the last two tracks; outrun drum kicks with ethereal synths culminating in a rather cool guitar rift. 'Glitch In The Code' could sit very well within the soundtrack of a video game without it sound like it's trying to be there. Warped synths, energetic beats and an upbeat melody makes this a cool mash of electro.

 'The Rainy Season' is the reflective track off the album, whether you're a ship's computer, who just discovered sentient thoughts, or a crewmember looking out of the portal to the stars. Melodic piano and smooth sounds, ease the mind of a weary traveller. Ending on a cool note is 'Together Again' featuring a familiar vocal sample, slick beat and playful synths.

Nitelight presents Bliss-817, is a refreshing album that does not stay within an overall theme but rather uses it as a platform to create something enjoyable and cool space journey. Receiving a very high recommendation from Synthetix.FM, you can find it here on Bandcamp.

Dream Shore - Thoughts Of Choice

By Rick Shithouse

Following up the great tease maxisingle release of  the track Thoughts Of Choice from earlier this month, Dream Shore has just released his debut EP and it certainly rocks good and hard. The 'Thoughts Of Choice' single teased much of Dream Shore's inspirations and 80s influence but on the EP we're taken in new directions that add more depth and more sheen to what Dream Shore means.

The opening introductory piece sets the perfect stage for the song 'Memories'. Dream Shore instantly creates a nostalgic moods while also bringing in modern synthpop layers into the mix. What drives this undulating but somehow chaotic synthscape is the vocals and Dream Shore has some fantastic delivery an songwriting skills to back up the music.

The title track, 'Thoughts Of Choice' (featured previously on Quality Time With Shithouse on Synthetix Sundays) goes for a far more authentic 80s vibe that has only secondary modern touches and is very strong from beginning to end. This continues into the next track, 'Clear Eyes', which brings home even more emotive pop laden synth gold.

I've instantly been drawn to the phrasing and simplicity of Dream Shore's delivery yet also entranced by his honesty and presence within his voice. The styles and sounds just work magnificently well together in the realms of 80s inspired pop synth music. Could Dream Shore be the next Patrick Baker for the 80s inspired synth scene? From what I'm hearing on this EP; that's a definite possibility.

The EP finishes off with the magnificent instrumental track 'Motivation'. Dream Shore lets the music do all the talking in this experience and when you hear that lead hit you'll know exactly why. It's a real show case for Dream Shore's ability to rock the classic sounds and create wonderful visions and emotional responses sans vocals.

Dream Shore's Thoughts Of Choice EP is presented by Retro Promenade on their Bandcamp page here and is refreshing and engaging heavy dose of quality 80s synthpop. But more than that, this scene is crying out for vocal talent like this and I have a strong, hopeful feeling we'll be walking those delightful Dream Shore's in many different locales throughout 2015.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Searsly Spuhghetti

By Eddie Spuhghetti

"Are you sure you know which one you want?" was the final question asked by my mother when it came to my choosing a game to rent at the local video store.  We'd stand there, looking at all the colourful boxes with "Super Nintendo" labeled on them, trying to figure out which was the "right" one.  Some had clear boxes behind them, others didn't: usually the good ones didn't.  Although once in a while you could come across a hidden gem or just plain old good timing but for the most part, it was either take a chance with confidence or suffer the wrath of Mom's all-knowing sense of your indecisiveness.  When that's the case, I'd just go ask my neighbour to borrow a game that I'd often grab off him called Lethal Weapon.

Like many Action films at the time, Lethal Weapon 3 had a video-game tie-in and although most promotional work did include the numerical significance, none of the final products kept it.  The NES and GameBoy saw identical versions of a side-scrolling beat-em up, while the Amiga, Atari ST, C64 and DOS-based home-computers got a more traditional platformer.  One console port was made for the SNES (an unreleased Sega Master System port was in-development but never completed) and has since become a diamond-in-the-rough simply in terms of the music: it's unbelievably good for such a medicore game.  Composed by Dean Evans and Barry Leitch, the game's score was for the most part ported from the home computer version with a few unique tracks replacing others.  The title theme heard in the video below remains the same in each port but with noticeable differences due to system hardware.

Although no actual compositions from the films were used in the game (you don't hear the familiar Riggs jingle), it's impressive just how well Leitch and Evans nailed the tone of the series.  It's heroic, it's thrilling, and it works at getting you into the mood of being either cop racing against the clock to prevent an explosion, narcotics smuggling, Joe Pesci being killed or another explosion.  What I'm getting at is that the game can be repetitive in terms of gameplay; there's no awesome driving levels here, just jump and shoot your way to the end.  Besides level design, it's the music that does the best job of keeping things fresh to an extent as it differs per mission.  Or if it really gets too repetitive for you, just set your tv to mute and toss on Protector 101's L.A. Cop Duo EP!

Searsly Spuhghetti - Lethal Weapon (SNES & Amiga) from EddieSpuhghetti on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Craft Of Bart Graft's Art

By Rick Shithouse

What brings someone to write 80s inspired synth music? What is it, in 2015, that lights that spark to say in the musician's muse within: '80s synth, yes, that's for me'. This is something I often think about when listening to a producer for the first time. By picking out elements and themes sometimes it becomes wholly apparent what brought them to this music. Other times, the deeper one delves into the art of a producer the more the glowing soul of 80s love becomes apparent.

Sometimes this love is shrouded amid other influences, other times it takes time to be coerced and nurtured from a tiny glow to an uproarious fire over their musical journey and sometimes it can be a bright spark that blinds in supercharged neon brilliance only to then gradually fade and trail into a memory.

With a producer like Bart Graft, whom I know nothing about beyond his two Bandcamp releases, the path and story are still yet to be walked and written. One thing I do know is that this release grabbed me in a way that felt warm and familiar yet still exciting and full of promise. This self-titled eight track release contains many of the hallmarks I dearly love about 80s inspired synth music and mixes up a couple of things in ways I found very endearing. Bart Graft definitely knows his was around 80s melodies and has a superbly tuned ear for the right sounds too.

From track one you know what you're in for in quick time. The synthscape is clean, uncluttered and very authentic. You won't be hearing any modern production techniques on this record.  The instruments used are bright, colourful and energetic, lacquered in mirror like gloss that sparkles tantalisingly. Bart Graft, like many producer's has used Miami Vice as the base inspiration for this record from the apparent track titles and such but the music goes deeper than that.  'Gespaard's Poolside' brings to mind the musical magic of Synthetix.FM favourites like Spacious Sweep, Plaisance, Jacques 'James Baker' le Boulanger and Sternrekorder with its simply gorgeous 80s naïveté.  It is in the melodies that Bart Graft crafts other elements into the musical tapestry as his own hallmarks begin to show.

There is a wonderful amount of guile and mystery in many of the tracks on the album. Some pieces begin in a manner that alludes to all the cards being placed squarely on the table but all too often Graft then pulls a rabbit out of the hat mid-track to turn the experience in a great new direction. 'Rico's Vice' begins with a cascading waterfall of a synth melody that soon becomes and emotional deluge of beautiful 80s magic. Graft is never in a rush and allows his introductory passages to work in a very soundtrack oriented style that coerces the listener into hypnotising worlds, he also has a keen sense of how to give instruments the exact weight and force needed for maximum impact. The snare in 'Rico's Vice' is absolutely huge, but you never lose the details or mood of that synth waterfall melody. By keeping his selection of instruments to the necessities only a different kind of dynamic range comes into play.

'Marina Soiree' continues the sparkling seaside melodies with structures of beautiful synths being fabricated into dancing glass shards in the sunlight. On this piece an inference of Library styles come into play also, the feeling that this could happily be the background music in an after-school 80s kids TV show is impossible to ignore. Conversely, in 'Graft's Theme' he goes for a more silhouetted mood that hides the grandiose nature of the melody behind thin, muslin veils. Airs of romance rise in words not said but intentions felt.

The next track delivers the hit you've been waiting for in 'Chase On Brickell'. Graft hits the accelerator and rockets into the action with a totally rockin melody that is all suited up and ready for excitement. I absolutely love the introduction of the guitars in this track as the tone provides the perfect foil for the  synths. So much of this track reminds me of my favourite 80s TV soundtrack music and the likes of Mike Post and Pete Carpenter's classic work. The combination of that oh so wonderful naïveté and all out rockin action is intoxicating to the end.

The chase continues into the energetic 'Testarossa' and the guitars return with good measure. This track takes a few more cues from other directions and the midpoint change comes from nowhere to blow your mind in ways only the 80s knows how. A more reflective tone is created in the aptly titled 'Quayside Dreamin' 84'.  The melody meanders in a loose, dream like haze. Saturated colours of the sunset become overpowering and the rippling waters provide just the right amount of lull.

The album finishes by going deeper 'Into The Miami Sunset'. The melody is perfectly accented by the energetic percussion and sauntering bassline with an air of justice and triumph rising in the halting synths. The guitars make a welcome return, this time in a far more poignant manner that befits the arrangements to a T.

Over the course of this record one thing that I was constantly reminded of was how clearly Bart Graft dictated the moods to me of every piece of music using barest of elements and instruments. This in itself is testament to how totally 80s his melodies and progressions are and how each piece of music hangs entirely off that chrome 80s hook.

Bart Graft presents his self-titled album on his Bandcamp page here in the usual array of digital formats. This album comes very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM and sure promises that Bart Graft's 80s soul will be burning bright for a long time to come.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Soiree 80s

I'm honoured to be part of a fantastic new project on Radio Pure Gently  called Soiree 80s. This monthly programme features myself, Marko Maric, Jazzi Marzcat, DJ Spaz and Micky Dodds each having an hour to play our favourite 80s tracks. We've all got different loves of 80s sounds and the mix presents a very broad and varied representation of classic 80s music. Our first show is now available for  your delectation on Mixcloud.

Tune in for some great 80s rockin, and I'll be sure to promote the LIVE event on here next month and follow the Soiree 80s Facebook page here for news and further information.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Mythical, Time Traveling Vigilante

By James Mann

There are artists in the retro scene who without warning take the scene by storm. I mean, a full on assault and barrage of melodies, rhythms and above all, beauty. I had the luxury of coming across Time Traveler, the debut EP from the one and only Mythical Vigilante. This crime fighting time traveler who dons a samurai sword to swear and protect the innocent delivers pure bliss and awe in his latest release. Traversing through soundscapes of barren, destroyed land to magical places filled with wonder and amazement, this artist demonstrates an exceptional knowledge of synth work and crafted melodies in addition to syncopated rhythms that leave the listener astounded and wanting more. It can be difficult to transcend everything you stand for as an artist in just four tracks, but within a minute into just the first track, Mythical Vigilante casts you into his world, and you are now on a mission with this crime fighter sworn to protect those subjected to all wrongdoing and evil.

Light beams. A subterranean underworld. A scientist working late at night in montage fashion to build the cure to save the human race. Distinct images and feelings are evoked when I heard 'Receiving Psychic Messages,' the first track on the EP.  (However the true story behind this track lies in the history of the crime fighter himself) This gem opens up with an incredible combination of dark arpeggiated bass goodness and heavy kick, instantly transporting the listener to another world. Shortly after, delicate, beautiful melodies lay over the darkness and immediately create the blending that can be so difficult to attain; a balance of gorgeous, lush leads and a darkness driving the momentum. Mythical's skill and handiwork is truly astounding. It's apparent he has a innate and intuitive ear for progressions, build ups and making other worldly tracks.

'Time Traveler' is an epic journey and truly illustrates the complex journey of the Mythical Vigilante. His ability to tell a story through music is incredible, a tale of the warrior himself with feelings of magnificence and elegance. His now distinct dark edge starts the track off and quickly is filled with a pleasing Euro-esque melody that builds momentum into full force. Complex toms with impeccable production value coax the listener into a magical space. Inspiring synths build behind the lead and every space and sound is in full spectrum. It's evident the craft and passion behind this artist and track is real, and with Nemix on guitar, a monumental accompaniment to the track shreds across the landscape and climaxes into a crescendo like no other. This is perhaps my favorite track on the EP, as it explores the true depth and talent behind this artist.

'Many Rainbows' follows suit in 'Time Traveler,' and is a track originally performed by Argon Cowboy. Mythical Vigilante tears through the scenery with a poignant remix demonstrating his refined ability to craft another's song and make it his own. After hearing the original, I can hear the similarity in lead and mood, but MV adds a driving, robotic force behind it that makes this a truly an exceptional and original track. A somber, distant lead guides you with a refrain that will send chills up your spine. Again, those lush and complex melodies weave through the track and transport you to another dimension. I close my eyes and feel every intention of this artist, it's just too good.

'Crime Ridden Wasteland' opens with a feel of pure vintage 80's nostalgia, along the lines of soundtracks from 'Romancing the Stone' to 'Risky Business'. I hear the Tangerine Dream influence with beautiful glocks as the track gains momentum. The driving beat and bass take a turn to escort you straight into the wasteland that Mythical Vigilante strives so hard to cleanse. Dark and intense, the sections of this track are numerous. Mythical always keeps your interest with different breaks, beats, and leads. Not an easy feat, as he never comes across as trying too hard. It all seems effortless for this crime fighter.

I could never imagine an EP would evoke and elicit so many feelings about the state of the retro scene. There are so many artists who have their own unique approach, but without any hesitation I would say Mythical Vigilante is and will be a top contender in the scene. The skill level and execution are amazing and worthy of any synthficiando who enjoys music from the past, but blazing full speed into future sounds and arrangements.

As Mythical himself says, 'Inspiration comes mostly from films, new and old. I watch a lot of sci-fi, and horror, but two movies I've seen lately that were a huge influence in this EP were "The Guest", and "Maniac." I just wanted this EP to just sound huge." As far as future projects, he will continue with his current project and delve into others. 'I'm working on two projects at the moment. We don't have a name yet, but it's me on the synths and a vocalist named Nikko Hana who is also here in Seattle.' We look forward to your future journey and crime fighting abilities Mythical, and as any crime fighter would say, the work is never truly done.

Mythical Vigilante presents the Time Traveler EP on his Bandcamp page here and it comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Searsly Spuhghetti

By Eddie Spuhghetti

"Ready or not, I'm com-ing; baby, I've got some muscle for you." Not even The Smiths could start a chorus that vivid. Leave it to media personality and possibly hands-down "the best TV dad of the 80's" Alan Thicke to take on the challenge of writing and performing a song to energize the crowd while hosting the 1988 Crystal Light National Aerobic Championship. Hailed as an Honorary Chairperson of the National Fitness Foundation (vanity credit, no doubt), Thicke presented the fourth annual event which marked the last year that Crystal Light was its main sponsor; Reebok would take the honor in 1990. Now that you're prepared, let's get physical: I'll spot you while ya get in a few reps of "Sweaty and Hot".

Alan conjures up verses like "Stallion with the Schwarzenegger neck" and "Spectacular! Car-dee-oh-vas-cu-lar!" that make you wonder why the hell he didn't release this as a single.  He was already an established songwriter with hits like the themes to Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts Of Life and several short-lived game shows; writing an exercise-themed melody just comes naturally I guess. Maybe it has to do with the fact that he's an Honorary Chairperson of the National Fitness Foundation?  "Sweaty and Hot" details the frustration of an amateur muscle-bound dude who can't get over a gal who's eyes have shifted to some 'roided bozo. So he ditches his sensitive intellect (I swear I thought for a while the line was "internet") and decides to get ripped in order to show her up; the message here is "your loss" and searsly, I love it.

But come on Eddie; what about that famous opening theme tho?  "We're The Champions" (which would be the event's official theme tune over the years) recently hit 88mph and showed up on news feeds all over the place.  Even one of our admins at Here Lies pulled up his phone at lunch and asked if I had seen it.  I told him the song's pretty good but there's an even better song hidden within the '88 show; pulsating with 80s exercise-fad obsessiveness and thick of Alan Thicke's "embarrassing-yet-cool-dad" mannerisms.  But if it's really not enough, then I'd say go have a listen after to Alpharisc's remix of the opening theme.

Searsly Spuhghetti - "Sweaty & Hot - Alan Thicke" from EddieSpuhghetti on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tommy '86 Is A Disco Machine

By Sam Beck

There is divinity in a Friday night out.

An incomparable feeling of promise, maybe a little hope and surely a joyous, nearly electric anxiety to just where the night could lead. It doesn’t particularly matter how it all ends up. Often times that end point is nowhere good.

What matters is that it happened.

In a world of office jobs, computer screens and disconnection it can be the only thing that feels like it truly matters. But the addictive nature of those feelings, and what may come, as a natural extension of the night and the events therein is what continues the tradition of weekly pilgrimages out of the house to be with other people. To have a shared experience. That the night could be that night. The kind of night that helps to define a life.

Maybe that’s the appeal of the 80’s in popular culture to this day. That for a brief time, pop culture took a shit-load of coke, said ‘screw it’ and decided to just revel in the promises of how great things could be.

Pretending every night could be the night.

And Tommy ‘86 just wrote one hell of a love letter to that night.

This plus-sized ep (clocking in at 30 minutes plus) feels like a concept album to the night you can’t help but imagine you’ll have as you lace up your high tops, pull the perfect jean jacket over your shoulders and resist (or don’t) the urge to high five your reflection in the mirror before you dash out the door to just plain get on with it.

Opener 'Revival' is simply the perfect jam to imagine dancing through the apartment as you get ready, a smile creeping across your face not just because you have pieced together the perfect outfit but even your favorite pair of underwear is clean. And honestly, what could go wrong with that perfect ode to craftsmanship and delicate part protection on?

The following track, 'Back to Basics' features a bass line that just screams riding in the car with your friends feeling like the night belongs to you. Synths stab through the song like each neon sign through the dark night, hitting hard and slowly fading out as you ideally stare out the passenger side window.

I can only assume that one of the EP’s stand-outs, 'New Lands', was written as Tommy sauntered into some raging Italian disco. The song starts with hard kick drums, slowly building the bass line until the synths explode into color, overwhelming the listener with sound. It is the experience of walking to the door of a new club and suddenly, upon opening the door the full sound of the music, the people dancing and laughing and the realization of what the whole night has been building toward finally comes to fruition in purely musical form.

The soulful piano lines of 'If Dreams Could Become Reality' backed by breathy synths and claps replicate the feeling of seeing that girl across the club. Somehow the crowd parts perfectly and she somehow looks directly into your eyes and you’re not sure if you have melted into the floor, but time has seemed to stop, so your only way to gauge is that your angle on this dance club angel has yet to change. And then…


Mercifully broken by the words, 'DISCO MACHINE'. With that vote of confidence, you kick back your drink, take a deep breath and walk across the club, never breaking the gaze you’ve been sharing with that beautiful girl. She just stands up and you walk to the dance floor and suddenly the night becomes a blur of colored lights, shots and the best dance moves you didn’t even know you had.

The album ends with 'A Song for People in Love', with its deep synth layers and slow pounding beat it is the end of the night. You’ve climbed into the cab behind this girl and you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the warm feeling deep in your chest. She may not be the one, but she’s someone with whom you’ve shared the perfect night. You could tell her you love her, and in your state of half-inebriated euphoria, you wouldn’t be lying. But why say anything when you can see it in her eyes as plainly as you know she can in yours?

Girlfriend Records presents:Tommy ‘86  Disco Machine  on iTunesGoogle Play Music,  Juno  AmazonDeezer,  Spotify and Bandcamp in all manner of digital formats. Tommy ‘86’s ode to a Friday night is a gorgeous work, the music that sticks with you is the music that takes you back to your memories. Disco Machine takes you to memories that have yet to come. It is without a doubt a Synthetix Reference Experience.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Synthetix Sundays

The final Synthetix Sundays for this season happens this weekend on Radio Pure Gently! Marko will be on his second tour of the U.S for the next seven weeks and will return with a new season of Synthetix Sundays in May.

To conclude this season Marko's got a special line up prepared including interviews with Mythical Vigilante, Juan Irming (aka Amplitude Problem), Housetronaut and the awesome retro graphic designer Kenzo Art.

Regular segments with Paul Daly, Quality Time with Shithouse and Synthetix Spotlight are also scheduled and Marko also has download codes to give away for Mythical Vigilante's incredible new EP Time Traveler and an exclusive track to air from DATAStream!

Be sure to tune in to this rockin synthstravaganza of good times and great rock'n'roll LIVE on Radio Pure Gently here, at 10pm Perth, Australia time. Please click here to find out when this is in your part of the world. As always the fully downloadable show will be posted here on Monday, along with the featured tracks from Quality Time With Shithouse.

Quality Time With Shithouse featured tracks:

Friday, March 13, 2015

Rock Synthetix.FM Gear!

Synthetix.FM official shirts and merchandise have arrived! Shirts are available in lots of options for styles and colours as well as iPad and phone cases and plenty of other rockin gear sporting the official Synthetix.FM artwork by Blood & Chrome design!!

Click here to view all the options available.

And for those looking for something a little more risque, the adult version of the artwork is available as a pin up poster here.

The links to Synthetix.FM will always be on the top right hand side of the site.

Support Synthetix.FM and the 80s inspired synth scene and rock this gear like a melonfarmer!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Long Road To The Wrath Of Code

By Rick Shithouse

Dan Terminus' Wrath Of Code album has finally been released. After seemingly months of delays and even longer since I was honoured with a preview in 2014, the album is finally out and free to enrapture all into its own plane of existence. This being such a long awaited release has definitely paid off, however, as the quality of the experience has been worthy of getting the release 'right'.

When it comes to the unholy quantrinity of Slash Electro rockers there's the energetic tension of Perturbator, the uncaged creativity of Carpenter Brut, the aggressive onslaught of Gost and in Dan Terminus we're now given a new dimension to the extreme side of 80s inspired synth music. In The Wrath Of Code Terminus uses time and patience to build his stories. The epic soundtrack oriented concepts this record illustrates adds yet another dimension to the Slash Electro dynamic, one that lends much from more traditional synth soundtrack music and then counterbalancing the vast spaces with intense explosions of raw power.

The overall balance of the album is something I certainly wasn't expecting. Across the thirteen tracks there are four acts formed as chapters in the story. Individual tracks relate to others in the same chapters in a wonderfully engaging manner as sounds and passages reappear as characters throughout Th Wrath Of Code's story.  The boldest move, on Terminus' part, was to open proceedings with one of the most intense Slash Electro anthems in recent times, the highly regarded brutality known as 'Cherenkov Blue Overdriver'.

Opening the album with this piece is akin to having the most graphic and bloodiest murder of the slasher movie happening while the opening credits are still rolling. We're thrown in, head first, into the absolute chaos of Terminus in his most malicious form. Beyond the short introductory passage this track then obliterates all in its path. A procession of electric death that brings pure aural annihilation. This level of intensity is usually what is built to in many albums but by foregoing this tradition Terminus brazenly opens up and unloads his most high powered ammunition from the outset, which then leaves on wondering where the hell can you go next?

The following piece continues in the same vein under the monstrously appropriate title of 'Heavy Artillery' but it's at this point, amid the machine gun percussion and devastating basslines that Terminus begins his melodic adventure. The vintage soul is born anew in rousingly bright melodies which refuse to get caught in the cut and thrust of the Slash Electro mayhem. Things become even more involving as the pace is slowed down into into dirge and far more sensitive elements blink and sparkle amid the clouds of soot and blood. The layers of sound all remain intense but it is the beauty of the lead melody that takes this opening chapter into new lands.

This introductory suite of tracks is then joined by 'Avalanche' and subtly the synthscape begins to change. Tearing electronic yawns of synth chainsaws act like barking wolves, but underneath those sparkling details of 'Heavy Artillery' now gain more presence. They gain strength and power and begin to take the music in the direction they want. Away from from carnage and brutality; venturing to new horizons. Their voices become all powerful in the final stages before our next journey starts.

Pursuit begins with 'Death By Distortion' as machine beasts roll out in search of their prey, the harsh, raw edge is rusted and blunt but wielded with much force. The clouds rise across desert's horizon as unrelenting technology hunts with feverish ferocity but the light finds a way to hide, it takes a route deep and unknown. A path into 'The Chasm'.

In 'The Chasm' Terminus takes a much more laboured approach to the synthscape, using industrial tinged melodies to illuminate a dangerous passage. This track though is devoid of the previous chapters chaos and instead takes cues from more controlled atmospheres and soundtrack based arrangements. Allowing this listener this dark voyage into fear brings on a different brand of intensity. One that takes shape amid distant shadows. One that hides much more than allows you to see. One that is completely descriptive of the perilous adventure.

The time aspect is one of the real joys of this album as each track is generally around the four and half to six minute mark, meaning the ideas and details are fully explored before moving on. After 'The Chasm' the adventure continues into a tonal palette almost devoid of the previous chapters brutality. 'Eternal Annihilator' uses dark, swelling clouds of villainous synth in less chaotic ways. A measured approach is used instead, which is highly refreshing and distills melodic ideas into highly polished gems. The aspects of positivity and hope again rise and glow, as the clouds that once reached for the sky now yield.

Ironically on 'It's Too Bad She Won't Live' the lights begin shining even brighter with synths being the most brightly coloured on the album to this point. The raucous violence of the past seems like it happened eons ago. A new dawn is here, a world that shines rather than cowers and offers untold possibilities.  The midpoint change in this track is not to be underestimated. All of a sudden a sinister malevolence begins to override the atmosphere and the massive punch combination of percussion feels like voltage directly connected to your nervous system. The last piece brings in some kind of solace; but at what cost...

'Grim' starts down a path that becomes familiar, albeit now with steelier determination. Threatening to go ballistic in a vicious display of raw power 'Grim' keeps itself under control via some beautifully arranged melodic details that sooth the pumping viscera. This combination of ruthlessness and reflection is given even more weight from the previous tracks on the album. The music feels like it's crying out with dialogue and poetry, using the melodies as a vocalisation.

The force of power flows faster in 'Restless Destroyer' as those voices now scream for justice. Thudding percussion and explosive flourishes highlight the anthemic nature of the piece with quickening melodies alluding even more crazed recollections and hallucinations. From the mercilessly pounding rhythms rises that familiar, singular hope once again. A glimpse is all that can be afforded, however.

Returning the chants of battle and confrontation. 'Pegasus Pro Ultra Fusion' plays out like the Heaven version of the Hell that is 'Cherenkov Blue Overdriver'. The structures feel similar and play out in a familiar way, but this time the dominance of light over the darkness is realised. A gleam of silver and gold is woven in to the synth melodies as the black fragments of the past are swept aside. The once merciless pounding now feels triumphant and inspiring. Colours begin to fade back into the picture and for the first time, The Wrath Of Code moves from being a mechanised being into something much more organic.

The most adventurous side of Dan Terminus surfaces next in 'Tuned In To A Dead Channel'. The use of vocals in a very obtuse way adds a huge amount of presence and humanity to the atmosphere. Synths are sombre, but not without sparkling details and glowing resonance. The traditional song make up of verse/chorus and even a wonderfully executed solo make this an experience that adds a huge amount of possibilities to the Terminus palette and really shows an artistic side to the producer I hope he explores further.

A final piece of atmospheric annihilation arrives in the second last track 'Detonation' as the pace is slowed and the synths layer megatons of power through swirling radioactive clouds of desolation. The intensity is still there, but it comes with a cost and a sense of great loss permeates the scene. This then leads into the final track where Terminus teams up with Perturbator to switch every dial to levels beyond safety as sounds are sharpened and unleashed in barrages of blasting synth violence. But, once again, as a final reminder, the beauty of the melodic passages shine ever brighter against the holocaustal contrast presented. It's the perfect note to finish on, a highlight reel of The Wrath Of Code, condensed into four minutes and forty seconds of outright Slash Electro mayhem.

The magic in The Wrath Of Code is really in it's storytelling ability through each of the tracks. The acts of the narrative play out so thoughtfully and when explored in such an intensely forged sound it shows that Terminus knows exactly when to reign in the horses and when the whip the living shit out of them.  This is definitely the most accomplished  full length Slash Electro record I've heard thus far and it expands the concepts of the genre in some radical new ways whilst being able to keep the concept and theme genuinely captivating to the listener.

Blood Music presents Dan Terminus' The Wrath Of Code album on their Bandcamp page here at a name-your-price point in digital formats only at this stage (here's hoping to a physical release soon!). This is without a doubt a Synthetix Reference Experience and breathes new life and possibilities into the extreme side of synth music that while forged in Hell definitely gets a deliciously wicked coat of 80s synth gloss.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Searsly Spuhghetti

 By Eddie Spuhghetti

1984 goes down as one of the highest grossing years in cinematic history and look no further for proof than the top ten: they are all classics in their own right.  Beverly Hills Cop, Gremlins, Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom, Romancing The Stone, The Karate Kid, Footloose, Police Academy, The Terminator, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock and oh yeah, Ghostbusters.  Teaser trailers were sort of a new thing at the time and certainly helped peak interest for this wacko sci-fi/horror comedy chock full of SNL and SCTV alumni that was set to be released in July.  Only, nobody was humming that iconic theme song after seeing the teaser: when it came to giving the boys with nuclear-accelerators-on-their-backs a heroic tune, who did the producers call?!  Not Ray Parker Jr.

Hughes & Thrall, a then-newly established collaboration between former Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes and touring-guitarist Pat Thrall, were brought aboard to write and perform several songs for the film; one of which would be the purported iconic theme song.  They apparently saw this opportunity as less of a stepping stone towards working on films and more as strengthening their workmanship towards their next album.  At some point in post-production (and after this teaser was released), the plug was pulled on their work and in came Ray Parker Jr. with a more pop-sounding tune that he was inspired to write by some drug song he had heard by a guy named Huey.

No known copy of Hughes & Thrall's "Ghostbusters" was released to the public other than the short teaser snippet.  The band has professed that they wish to release it but are not able to (possibly due to a legality).  It's a shame because the song really isn't that bad and could have been used in the end credits: hell, I've found myself listening to the short clip of it a few times in a row just wondering what the rest of the song sounds like.  I'm sure in some alternate reality where my name is Stevie Linguini and Rick Shithouse is called Donathan, we're all singing "Whos that creeping down the hall?  You've got time to make one call!  Gho ho ho ho hoooooosst Ghostbustersssssss!"

Searsly Spuhghetti - "Ghostbusters Teaser Trailer" from EddieSpuhghetti on Vimeo.

There are definitely fans of this original tune and one went as far as to making his own interpretation of it. Keeping things on a theme of alternate interpretations, I'd be remiss not to share some classic Ghosthouse for even more blurring of reality, history and fantasy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Satori Is Legendary In Bed

By Jerry Herrera

I don’t mean to nit pick or cause any division in the retro synth scene because trust me, it’s all good, but I think there’s ‘80s inspired tracks and those that achieve a different level of authenticity. I won’t say “higher level” because like I said, it’s all good. It’s just that some guys just understand the sound of the era better. This is not a complete theory, because I don’t know if it’s an age thing or just a certain mania that some producers suffer from.

Satori in Bed, from the beginning, seemed enamored with the retro aesthetic.  He pushes his sound and everything Satori In Bed related to a depth that I just don’t see a whole lot.  And really, I don’t think it’s any one huge advantage or bit of technical prowess, but just a metric ton of little things.  I loved Legendary from top to bottom, and when I look back on it, it’s because of the gentlest touches on each track that made the album worthwhile.

The first dramatic notes of 'I Means Silence' (ft. Rika Stewart) are the perfect indicator of how intense this retro odyssey is going to be. 'Legendary' (ft. Mikól Iordán) is the perfect follow up as we enter a world of striking drama. This track is full of grim, almost horror synth elements, without allowing itself to be pigeonholed. It’s definitely more murder mystery than slasher flick.

'Salima' opens in a similar manner, because Satori In Bed does theatrics extremely well, but quickly and easily lifts the tension and seamlessly shifts us into a different gear. Here we are simply gliding through a neon night, with synths fluttering in between channels and touches of funk and R&B accenting the mood. It’s both nuanced and repetitive enough that I found myself comfortably lost, and if were actually driving, able to focus on the road, and the city lights ahead.

'Kind of Indigo' is a rich, somewhat jazzy synth cruise through heartbreak and longing. It’s got all the elements for a real 80s love theme, but it starts off ominously as if we’re in for some more horror synth. Satori In Bed straddles a line between drama, fear, and love but all while remaining true to this almost tongue in cheek retro sound.

'To The Core' (ft. Li Boo) is pure ‘80s pop, perhaps even the theme to a movie that has all the great elements:  crime, romance, action. The vocals are appropriately retro and maybe even a little Gary Low influenced, and there’s a sweet guitar solo towards the end, the first on the album I believe.  'Tergiversation' continues this fictional soundtrack with a little ‘80s chase and some really intense toms towards the end.

It really is a match made in heaven to have Satori in Bed and Dana Jean Phoenix collaborate on a track, and it’s no surprise that 'Little Piece of My Heart' is the highlight of Legendary. It’s powerful, highly dramatic (there’s that word again), catchy and DJP’s pop sensibilities are used extremely effectively.  The duet works perfectly, and no one is singing over each other.

To finish the album, 'Riot' is an aggressive, snare driven track that’s more chase than OutRun then  '7 Times' finally scratches that horror itch that’s been teased throughout the album. After a lengthy intro of strings and synths and little bits of digital devilry here and there, the basses kick in and we’re taken on a funky, frightening night drive through foggy streets. It’s my other personal favorite track on the album and not to be missed.

Satori In Bed has a couple other strong releases and Legendary clinches his spot as one of the guys to watch in the scene, and someone to study when you’re unsure of how this whole synthwave thing is supposed to go. On one hand it’s being a huge 80s/retro nerd but on the other it’s an understanding of not only the instruments/synths but how they were used at the time. I’ve said this about a few other artists and I have no problem saying it about Satori In Bed:  He’d blend right in if he woke up tomorrow and was somehow transported back to 1988.  Do not miss Legendary if you consider yourself a fan of the genre.

Satori In Bed presents Legendary, which is available for purchase on Bandcamp here and is very, very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Synthetix Sundays

Marko's here with another stellar episode of Synthetix Sundays to make your weekend rock that 80s love all the right ways on Radio Pure Gently. The line up is full of sterling quality programming as Marko interviews Syntax and Tape Loader.

Exclusive tracks from Hello Meteor and Tape Loader as well as free download codes for Tape Loader's superb Space Travel release are also on offer. Regular segments from Paul Dress2Kill Daly and a new edition of Quality Time With Shithouse and Synthetix Spotlight are all lined up for your delectation too.

Tune in to Synthetix Sundays LIVE on Radio Pure Gently here, at 10pm Perth, Australia time. Please click here to find out when this is in your part of the world. As always the fully downloadable show will be posted here on Monday, along with the featured tracks from Quality Time With Shithouse.

Quality Time With Shithouse featured tracks:

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Screen Memories - Python Blue & Jupiter 8

By Kaleb KFDDA

In modern times, physical formats of various goods are a dying breed. Python Blue and Jupter-8's newest EP 'Screen Memories' is an ode to one of those favored formats, the VHS tape. In the true spirit of things, these two manage to intertwine their unique sounds in a not-so-common way.

The EP begins with Juptiter-8's 'Straight From the Screen', this song opens up like any summer action movie would begin, enticing you with progression that are full of drama and sustain. I can see credits rolling as vividly as I can hear the music that is straight out of 80s. Led with powerful but not speedy leads, this song is the perfect opening to a box office hit. Albeit not long, the song is a perfect taste of what comes next.

'Movies' is the second track, also composed by Jupiter-8 (did I mention this ep is split in half?) That's the unsual part, unlike most collaborative pieces, this EP is literally 2 entirely different interpretations of the same thing. Jupiter-8 captures a haunting sound in this one. This one is FULL of tension, a clifhanger of sorts, with some smooth jazzy elements thrown in, I believe this is the song that truly captures what Jupiter is all about.

I instantly applaud Python Blue's progression choices in 'Golden Tapes'. The song begins with angelic chord progressions that reminisce of your most fond material memories, bustering with that one-of-a-kind Python Blue sound.

'Behind a VCR' is definitely an emotional piece of work. It's moody, yet inviting. It's the kind of song you'd like to play when you're heartbroken, or mad as hell. Not often is an artist capable of making a song with such duality, and that's something Python does each and every time. The ending and end song 'Home Videos' I belive is some of Python's strongest work to date, ending this experience absolutely beautifully.

The atmosphere these two producers have managed to create throughout this EP is unmistakably gorgeous, unique, and balance each other quite perfectly; Jupter-8's agressive and dramatic tones combined with Python's passionate and artistically rendered progressions make this one of the most intriguing and amazing EPs thus far in 2015.

Very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM

TSTR - An Evening With The Devil

By Henry West

Not much is known about dark-synth author TSTR, other than his works started to come out steadily since January 2010 with the PAURA E.P., and gradually exposed a consistent number of nightmare-driven releases over the following years. The North Carolina native insists on a peculiar minimal approach to horror-themed soundscapes in An Evening With The Devil, his fifth official effort, which features six tracks that successfully render a vicious atmosphere of tension and distress around the listener.

The trip into demonic dominion starts out with a formal invitation to a place of fear and darkness 'Come Inside'. Harrowing basslines, incursions of high pitched bells, evil leads and relentless beats work together to paint an ominous picture with blood-stained intensity 'Behind Closed Doors' and industrial fervor 'In The Basement Ov The House Ov Satan'.

We are left to deal with a single elusive moment of hope 'A Way Out?' before it all ends in despair and tragedy 'You Will Never Leave This Place'.

This is a carefully executed piece of work that will resonate extremely well with fans of the SPLATTERHOUSE soundtracks by Eiko Kaneda, K. Tajima, Y. Kawamoto and Howard Drossin.

Sayak Striker - Never Surrender

By Sam Beck

I stepped out of the bar, three double whiskey and cokes coursing through my veins, soaking every cell in my body with Kentucky Bourbon. Taking a deep breath of the cold winter Nebraska night, I turned up the collar of my jacket, leaned into the lighter to set fire to yet another cancer stick and pressed play on my phone.

As I walked home, the dark streets of Lincoln, melted away, transforming into the harsh pedestrian pathways of a dystopian  megalopolis. With each step, each instance of my soiled Chuck Taylors' hitting cold, grey concrete, the barren city-scape exploded into the neon wash of a future, imagined in the past and yet to be realized in the present. Each cranked-to-the-max kick drum propelling me further into the night and my own fantasy world. Then a guitar burst out of the void, only acting to reinforce every Deckard inspired day dream I've ever had.

The new Sayak Striker EP, well really it's an album that is crafted as one whole with many parts, takes the listener on a journey in the way few releases do. There's no attempt to coax the listener into a pseudo and oft-regurgitated false memory of a time that has passed. The piece builds its own world, and asks the listener to enter, should they dare.

It is a world full of monoliths of consumerism, casting a bastardizing neon glow on fans of underground motorcycle races, crime and hedonism. Where a man can realize all of his fantasies at the low, low price of his soul.

80's inspired synthwave operates using the commodity of half-memories and nostalgia. Never Surrender builds a world that feels like a half-remembered fever dream. This is a landscape that Kavinsky hoped to map in tracks like Blizzard, but Sayak Striker has no interest in map making. He's the goddamn Google Street View of your dystopian day dreams.

Highly recommended. Why reinvent the wheel when you can put hundred spoke spinners on your whip?

Astral Stereo Project - Bastard Squad

By Rick Shithouse

Synthetix.FM has long be a fan of Neil Holdsworth's wonderful music created beneath the monicker of The Astral Stereo Project,  with much love given to the previous Anti Hero and Disco Death Sleaze releases over the years. Now the latest adventure from Holdsworth takes new inspirations and directions and creates a beautifully crafted homage to many classic; and not so classic 80s inspirations. The overriding thematic of these pieces being the soundtrack for 80s action video nasty that doesn't technically exist, yet can find trace elements of the original inspirations peppered throughout the tracks in loving recollections.

Something else this release is, which is an important factor I was only discussing yesterday with a fellow synthficionado, is that this has a genuine element of fun emblazoned throughout all the pieces. It might seem odd, but much of the real essence of vintage sounds is that fun nature to them. The 80s certainly never took itself seriously at the time yet much 80s inspired music loses that important feeling in favour of drama, tension or seriousness. There's nothing wrong with these feelings being driving forces, of course, but the stoic and melancholy need a bit of fun and frivolity too. I mean, it's not the grim and gritty 90s anymore... I hope.

Back to Bastard Squad though and it's plainly obvious throughout this record that Holdsworth isn't taking the subject matter too seriously and it is definitely of benefit to the rockin tunes. For those unaware, Bastard Squad was the name of a fictitious ultra-violent TV show referenced often in the classic 80s BBC series The Young Ones (must see viewing if you've not had the pleasure yet, or recently).

It's this spirit of the fun and the ridiculous that drives much of this EP's music. 'Intro/Blag' is an anthem of 80s action that hovers like Blue Thunder against moonlit cityscape. The overt double entendre of 'Hard Promises' belies all kinds of slowmotion lasciviousness,  probably while Blue Thunder in silent mode is peering through those open bedroom curtains. There's lots of great crossover sounds that bridge the 70s and 80s palettes too with 'Wheels Of Fire' cutting a swaggering disco groove over some wonderfully phrased lyrics and 'Maltese Hideaway' feeling like an extra track from Air's Virgin Suicides soundtrack; smooth, groovy and full of subtle nuance.

One of the real highlights is the monstrously infectious theme song for 'Supersnout' which is one hell of a funky adventure you'll wish had a TV series structured around it. The vocals make a full return in the smooth serenade of 'Nothing To Lose' as Holdsworth croons that 80s love with heavy doses of Nutrasweet providing that candy coloured layer of longing. 'Armed To The Teeth' takes the action back out into the VHS jungle as one lone survivor risks all for honour against whatever topical villain stereotype the shoestring budget can do semi-convincingly. The final act completing the Bastard Squad is the poignant 'Nothing But Death', which really captures that end of movie credit roll very nicely. A fitting finish to the experience, and it wasn't even interrupted by a siege or something.

I really do love what The Astral Stereo Project has done with this release, it's entertaining and eclectic and really retains a (sometimes devilish) grin from beginning to end. The 80s were all about fun, and that feeling is handed out overtly in Bastard Squad's rockin tracks. Definitely a worthy addition to any retro synth lover's collection and yet another kick arse release from The Astral Stereo Project.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Searsly Spuhghetti

I'm very pleased to announce the first of many Searsly Spuhghetti posts by learned colleague and famed raconteur of 80s media magic: Eddie Spuhghetti. Think of this as Synthetix.FM's own little  'public service announcements' to enrich, educate and entertain your modern day existence. -RS

By Eddie Spuhghetti

So when Rick Shithouse approached me to write for Synthetix, I was flabbergasted; I forgot to grab an onion for the delish' chili I was preparing.  Besides that, the news from Rick put me in a better mood and I started brainstorming ideas for what I could write about.  As a horror-writer/journalist/scriptwriter, I've dabbled in a catalog's worth of different topics within the realms of television, video-games and film.  Music, however, is bit of a new frontier for me; I'm the type of person who cannot explain Pet Sounds other than saying "Just go friggen listen to it."

Be it a rad commercial jingle, a blast-processed 16-bit game score, or a "what-song-is-that" background tune in a film: it says a lot if I rewind it once or twice to listen just to the song again.  The sad part is some of these tunes may never be discovered in their entirety but now we have a chance at some folks bringing to light certain tunes they recognize.  I'll be focusing your attention at beats you may have missed or outright forgot about - a catalog full of hidden gems that really are searsly worth checking out.

The DP Ultra Gympac commercial came my way on a beta tape I won off Ebay.  The tape was from a series labeled as "Stuff" with each tape consisting of short cuts from 80's women's aerobics/dance shows, Benny Hill, and nude movie scenes; essentially, some pervy teenager's pleasure tape.  There was a quick cut of this commercial (which of course, quickly went to something else once the guy in it showed up) but I instantly picked up on the music: intense and driven.  The ad's traits are obvious - it's cheesy, narcissistic and capitalizing on a time when home-exercising was trendy.  Had I been alive when this aired, I prob woulda rolled my eyes and went "Searsly?".  But you cannot deny how good it sounds: now I gotta go listen to The PUMP EP by Muscle.

Searsly Spuhghetti - "DP Ultra Gympac Commercial" from EddieSpuhghetti on Vimeo.