Saturday, December 17, 2016

Synthetix Sundays

Celebrate the festive season in style with the final episode of Synthetix Sundays for 2016!

This year end special finds Marko chatting with Crockett and a joint interview with Michael Weber and Mythical Vigilante.

Mako's got two massive exclusives to premier from Betamaxx and Crockett too!

Also, there won't be a year end Synthstravaganza on Synthetix.FM this year, instead this episode's Quality Time With Shithouse is a look back over 2016 and a looking forward to 2017.

Make sure you listen live for tonnes of giveaway download codes too to make sure you really get what you want these holidays!

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.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Echocopy's Zephyrus

By Jerry Herrera

Somewhere between vaporwave, space synth and retrowave lies the odd land of Zephyrus. It’s a tropical planet, lush and populated with chill people of every color on the spectrum, and whether we are in low orbit or swinging on a hammock, we exist in a place of beauty.

The music never gets above cruising speed and there are few, if any, really intense moments on the album. There’s really no story to be told, no narrative existing in the music, but that’s not why we are listening. We’re floating gently between tropical and deep house sensibilities but can never be bothered to get up and dance, because there’s a guitar always playing and it’s smooth and jazzy and it reverberates at just the perfect frequency to cause a warm buzz in one’s mind.

When we are not wrapped up in the silken sheets of tracks like Orbiting and Midnight Motel, we’re on a luxury spaceflight,looking out the window at the exact point where the atmosphere meets the darkness of space. The space synth elements on the album still remain warm and harmless. There are no derelict ships or alien horrors to worry about, only what time happy hour is when you’re going around the world in eighty minutes. Elon Musk needs to put this album on his playlist.

My favorite track has to be Through the Tunnel, arguably the most uptempo/outrunny track on the album. It’s got all we love about retrofuturism with a dash of cool, crisp aesthetic that all the kids are chasing these days. It’s the perfect nod to the past and the far future.

I will say that one tends to lose when one track ends and the next begins, because of the ubiquitousness of the reverbed instruments on each, but then again this is an effort that I felt as a whole more than multiple tracks addressing several themes. Every minute of Zephyrus is pleasing, but only scratches a small handful of aural itches one might have.

However, if you want to lie on an alien beach and sip strange booze while watching multiple suns set, you can’t do better than Echocopy right now.

Echocopy presents Zephyrus, available on Bandcamp through Music Box Records here and comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Le Flex's Dancefloor Suite

By Andrew B. White

If there’s one artist you should to know about this year it has to be London’s Le Flex. Once-and-a-while an artist comes along with the combination of exceptional talent, strength of material, top-notch production and a likable personality to match, and Le Flex certainly fits the bill. When you hit play on the first track of “The Dancefloor Suite” (a short intro titled ‘When I Saw Your Face’) and Le Flex’s super smooth and soulful vocals kick in, you know you’re in for something special. Immediately the tones of classic George Michael can’t be ignored, with Mr. Le Flex capturing the ‘edge of Heaven’ so-to-speak.

This is the sound of smooth 80s soft-pop, particularly the kind that was predominant in the UK at the time. American influences and sounds were remodeled locally and found their way on to “Top Of The Pops” and the result was something your whole family could agree on. Your sister loved it. You mum loved it. Your dad liked it when he heard it down at the fish and chip shop. You secretly loved it too (although you told everyone you were “into New Order, not that poppy stuff”). But there is no doubt its Le Flex who’s getting the ladies here, not Bernard Sumner, so its hard to fight against an obvious winner.

The second track on the album ‘Sway’ pulls us out onto the dancefloor, not in a glow-stick waving Ibiza way but with a mid-tempo RnB pop groove that you could happily dance to at a wedding reception with your gran. We also get a little of that Nile Rogers guitar sound to drive things along, and yes you are certainly welcome to start-up a conga-line for this one.

‘Meet Me On the Dancefloor’ brings to mind early-80s UK act Imagination’s ‘Just An Illusion’ with its distinctive gliding synth bass. Tasteful synth tones and interesting percussion flourishes help to make a very classic-sounding track. The lyrics say “I can see you like it, There ain't no denying, You know I'll make you feel alright”, and that is very true – certainly Mr Le Flex makes us feel alright!

‘Alone Together’ continues with the Imagination-influenced bass line and injects a little ‘West Coast’ yacht rock into the mix, in terms of subject matter and synth sounds. This is an ode to all hairy-chested, open-necked shirt, gold medallion-wearing and mustached smooth guys out there. Add cocktails with paper umbrellas and that lovely lady (or man) of your dreams and you’re in. Chalk another one up for the Le Flex love boat.

‘Feels Like Ooh’ brings us over into house-influenced territory. Simple stabbing chords and the unmistakable sound of the M1 piano are layered over 909 drums. The vocal sample and treatments bring us into more contemporary company but overall this track sits in the later part of the 80s where house was starting to combine with pop music.

‘Lovewitchu’ and ‘Where I Wanna Be (Tonight)’ give way to slower-paced RnB funk, suggesting the desire for a late night rendezvous. Additionally ’Lovewitchu’ also makes another appearance on the album later on (subtitled ‘A Lover’s Request’). This time it is slowed right down, suggesting the feigned requests for love may have actually been successfully returned…

‘Until The Morning Comes’ is a slow-burning affair with a slight hint of Luther Vandross-meets-Hall & Oates in places. Plenty of that unmistakable DX7 piano over a solid Moog bass. In the chorus Le Flex sings “It’s all about you” and it certainly feels that way – he’s singing right to you and you know you won’t be able to resist him… at least until you finish your chips.

At this point the album seems to veer away from the sound of the 80s and over into what I’d suggest might be touches of filtered French House. ‘Été’, ‘Recontre’, ’’In Mind Dreams With You’, ‘Take A Moment’ and ‘ We Don’t Need A Spaceship’ all follow suit. The included reworked version of ‘Meet Me On The Dancefloor’ (Le Flex Fip) also receives the same treatment.

Arguably, given the two styles, the first nine tracks could make up an separate album in itself with the remainder becoming an EP. That’s not to say all the songs here don’t work together as a whole album, it is more that you move from one stylistic territory to another. However, it is all achieved rather seamlessly, and as a collective work reflects the album’s title which is, uh, well “suited” (pun most definitely intended).

“The Dancefloor Suite” is an affecting ride. It's light (but not lightweight). It gets you moving, singing along and thinking about (or thinking about finding) a lover (fairly much simultaneously.) And it's fun. On that note, I think it is important to understand the underlying humor that exists in Le Flex’s work. Let’s face it, if you are singing sultry loves songs with lyrics such as “I stare at your face, My heart starts to race, I can't leave your gaze, Burned up in the blaze”, to pull it off you need to be able to not take yourself too seriously or run the risk of sounding like a complete tosser. There’s a great balance on display here between the serious production values and the playfulness of Mr Le Flex which ultimately adds to the album’s overall success. Indeed, for further evidence of where Le Flex is coming from, this excerpt from his Bandcamp bio may enlighten you:“This album is dedicated to all the girls I've loved before. A few of you I knew personally but most of you I only watched with binoculars, sat in a tree outside your house.”

The production values are exceptionally high on “The Dancefloor Suite”. Instrumentation is carefully chosen to create exactly the right feel and the mix is expertly crafted for maximum clarity and punch, with plenty of space to hear everything clearly. Stylistically, there is no doubting there are many influences going on but you are more likely to find yourself trying to pinpoint exactly what these are, rather than calling-out an obvious facsimile.

If you are looking for uptempo, instrumental OutRun then Mr Le Flex is probably not your man. If you have been hanging-out for some high-end, smooth Euro-influenced, 80s soft-pop, backed-up with plenty of contemporary chutzpah, then I think you’ll be well covered here.

“The Dancefloor Suite” by Le Flex comes very, very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM and is available on Bandcamp here (for ‘name your price’) as well as via all other digital platforms.

If you want to check out Le Flex’s production techniques, head over to his You Tube channel for some entertaining and informative ‘behind the scenes’ videos.  Le Flex takes us through the making of several songs from “The Dancefloor Suite” in addition to some of his remixes. All of this will be very informative to anyone producing electronic music in a DAW. Watch and learn!

I had the pleasure to ask Mr Le Flex a few questions which he happily answered, in-between fielding hundreds of txt messages from young ladies and washing his Ford Escort in the driveway…

Listening to your music and seeing your behind-the-scenes videos on YouTube, it looks like you have a lot of experience with music production. Is that the case, and if so, what kind of projects have you been involved with?

Yeah I have been in the music industry and around production for a very long time. It's all I ever wanted to do and it's all i've ever done. I've had a lot of success in years gone by but I was never really happy with the music I was making. Writing songs and producing for others has never been particularly satisfying although I enjoyed it. I think because a lot of the acts I had to work with were just manufactured record company projects, there was never any artistry or honesty to the music so I found myself wanting to make music of a different kind. Le Flex allows me to do that. I don't even talk about the old stuff I used to do, it depresses me haha.

I read in another interview that you are very influenced by the likes of ABBA. I’d argue that their level of production and songwriting is the bench-mark for any great song. Would you agree, and would Le Flex be Benny or Bjorn?

Abba are the greatest musical force to walk the earth in my opinion haha. My childhood is filled with Abba. My parents were in the Abba fan club and we had all the albums and singles on vinyl and tape. I had posters on my wall and t-shirts, everything. They were and remain a huge influence on me. Everything you need to know about songwriting and production is found in their music. It's like the perfect guidebook. I learned to play their songs on piano and guitar and learned about chord structure and melody. But no matter how you try to emulate or copy them you will always fall short because their special ingredient was that touch of genius that ordinary people don't have. They are the Beethoven/Mozart equivalent in pop music. I once was at a songwriting awards show and stood within arms reach of Benny & Bjorn but couldn't bring myself to say hello. I just stayed on the spot with my mouth open like a moron haha.

Of the two of them, I am definitely a Benny wannabe. His chords and keyboard playing, along with his amazing synth sounds are the stuff of dreams. I don't think I could get a beard anywhere near as good as his though.

Are you consciously aware of the Synthwave scene? You have worked with Modal Recordings’ Ben Macklin whose Duett albums have made quite a splash in Synthwave.

I am definitely aware of the synthwave scene and I am a huge Duett fan. I watch loads of 80's movies from when I was young and the soundtracks are still so good. The Harold Faltermeyer and Jan Hammer era was so amazing. I find there are a lot of people making that kind of music nowadays and keeping it alive which is great, although the quality is sometimes questionable haha. I don't understand the obsession that some people have with being super authentic and having original analog synths, desks and reverb/delay units though. Back in the 80s and 90s I had all that stuff and let me tell you it's a bloody nightmare. Everything as plug ins in a computer with instant recall is so much better and more convenient. For me at least. If collecting gear is your hobby then fine, but don't say that your stuff is better because you paid £5000 for a compressor!

Many of your tracks on Soundcloud have had a serious amount of plays – ‘Meet Me On the Dancefloor’ has over 60,000 plays alone. Now I’m not pigeonholing Le Flex as a Synthwave artist, but many artists in that scene struggle to get those sort of numbers (which can often be a reflection of an insular scene). So it certainly looks like your music appeals to a wide range of people, across the board. Would you say people just see Le Flex as ‘good music’ first and they don’t worry about the genre?

That's interesting actually. I personally don't see Le Flex as a synthwave project although it's a tag i'll always include in uploads etc. I would just class it as pop I suppose. Artists are often so concerned with credibility that to label themselves pop would be out of the question, but for me it's the first label I'd put on my music. My Soundcloud plays I think maybe reflect the fact that my music is song based and not just a track, or even a track with a vocal on top. People who come back and listen again and again are doing so because a song has a much longer shelf life than a great club track for example. I'm sure my play count would be far higher if I actually bothered to do some proper promotion and social media which I really need to address. I just like the music making part I guess. It's interesting you should mention not worrying about the genre because it's not something I consider when i'm working. I basically just make what I want and hope that someone will like it.

When listening to Le Flex a number of artists come to mind. I’ve mentioned Imagination and George Michael in the review, even a little Rick Astley and Stock Aitken and Waterman. Notably these artist are from the UK. Do you think there is a UK influence in your work, specifically from artists that were big the UK pop scene in the 80s? Is that something inherent since you are also London born and raised?

Yes definitely. There is a massive UK influence in what i do. For me the magic spot is taking the USA soul and RnB sound of writers like Babyface and Jam & Lewis, and then putting a much more European pop melody on top. I think those soulful American chords only come from that style and the melody style only comes from Europe. Combine them and you have my idea of perfection. The best example of this is Rod Temperton who took his UK pop sensibility and applied it to the American soulfulness and wrote some of the greatest songs ever. Basically I want to be Rod Temperton haha. In fact I need to take 10 minutes to listen to Sweet Freedom and Baby Come To Me. Also the music of Stock Aitken & Waterman was a huge huge influence on me growing up. After Abba it was probably their sound and the songwriting of Mike Stock that got played the most at my house when I was young.

You’ve also done several remixes which have been very popular, particularly your remix of Kilo Kish’s ‘Curious’ which won you a remix contest. Is remixing something you enjoy?

I do enjoy remixing as it allows me to be creative without the pressure of writing the song. I've kind of slowed down on it a little bit as I get asked quite a lot, but if I think the song is good I will definitely give it a go.

The Kilo Kish remix was more an exercise in getting on the radar of Kitsuné so it served a purpose in that regard. I've also remixed Kelly Clarkson and Sia in an official capacity but the record label decided I wasn't a big enough name to use my mixes, which knowing the industry as I do, is no surprise whatsoever. Rest assured my remixes were fantastic by the way haha

What do you think of remix contests in general? Personally I find them to be cesspools of EDM swayed by an entrant’s ability to milk social media for votes, but hey…

There can be no arguing with that statement at all. Anyone with Fruity Loops and a Techno sample pack can call themselves a producer nowadays and the amount of crap you have to wade through to find anything of even medium quality is equally amazing and depressing.

Do you have your music with a publisher or have you been approached to have your music included in film or TV? I can definitely hear Le Flex in a TV series such as Amazon’s Red Oaks (set in the mid-80s). Would you be happy with £10,000 in return for ‘Feels Like Ooh’ being used in a laxative ad?

I used to be published in the old days but not any more. I like keeping control of my music and making sure it's not used in any laxative ads haha. Although, Feels Like Ooh would be an ideal title for laxatives or condoms adverts!! TV and film would be great. I'd like it to be in one of those calming films like Lost In Translation etc where the actor does lots of staring into the middle distance thinking about their lost love as Le Flex plays in the background!

Finally, what kind of guy is Le Flex? Does he like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain, or hanging outside the fish and chip shop with a miniature of Beefeater?

I am a lazy bastard. I procrastinate like a champion and have to work incredibly hard just to get off the sofa. I'm constantly fighting the urge to do nothing. It takes up most of my day.
Normally I try and read most of the internet in the morning and then again in the afternoon just in case I missed something the first time. Then i'll have dinner followed by a well earned Scotch and see if I can watch TV until bedtime before doing it all again the next day. When I do finally make some music it is normally rubbish. Sometimes though there is a little bit of gold in there which might become something good. My YouTube videos are almost like highlight reels. You don't see all the bad ideas I had before I got to the good stuff haha.

Thanks Le Flex for your responses!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Synthetix Sundays

It's another huge special even this week on Synthetix Sundays as this week Marko presents the Dark Lords of Synth Special Volume 3, only on Radio Pure Gently!

There'll be a special segment dedicated to the very best in dark synth and slasher wave music featuring this monstrous interviews with some of the premier dark lords in the scene as Marko performs ritualised madness with Surgery Head, Volkor X and GosT!

This week there will be also be a very special edition of Quality Time With Shithouse featuring Marko and I chatting to Chris (Savage House/Sakura Night/Rio Blast/Sunset Cruisin' and a host of others!) and Shelby (Tanimura Midnight/Triobelisk) who were the men behind the legendary MOTU compilations, Ghost Car Records and Swedish Columbia Records about their past, present and future.

Plus a special segment with Jazzi Marzcat and also Synthetix Spotlight and two super exclusive tracks to premier from Dream Fiend and D.notive from the up and coming soundtrack from The Summoner, available  Friday 18th of November at Lazer Discs Records. As well as yet another exclusive track from Slicarus featuring Vampire Step-dad!!

Expect a tonne of hot tunes and loads of giveaways too in one hell of an epic show!

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.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Alex Giudici's Civic Duties

By Sarah Halloran

Isn’t it great when you stumble across an artist you’d never heard before, and find they have a substantial back catalog just waiting for you to pick your way through? That’s what happened with Alex Giudici, and while I only have time and room to focus on his latest album, ‘Civic’, I implore you to check out his older works. Be prepared for just a little diversity, and then some!

Okay, knuckles cracked, coffee imbibed and headphones on, let’s jump straight in! Actually, before I do, it’s worth mentioning that the first thing that jumped out about ‘Civic’ was its artwork. The cover art, also produced by Alex, is a fabulous mulberry-hued art deco cityscape that takes a refreshing break from the pentagrams, leather-clad bikers, neon grids and naked women peeking through window blinds artwork that is always doing the rounds!

Civic kicks off nicely with ‘Tyrannical Behaviour (Feat. David Kaye)’. It’s a cracking start. Tremendously dark with its quirky off-key notes and pounding energy, this track stirred up images of a dark and foreboding ‘War of the Worlds’ panorama with alien craft just emerging over the horizon, obliterating everything that dares to stray in their path.

‘Good Riddance’ features next. Picture a smoky bar and a rendezvous between two enemies. It’s amicable, although both survey each other with apprehension, their minds only one thought away from the guns at their sides. They both take a drink at the bar, discussing the deal they have been sent to agree. The music in the bar builds, a bassline pulses helped along by a rattlesnake percussion that further adds to the tension. The deal is done, both depart through separate doors. Nobody dies today.

The city awakens from its slumber, although it never really sleeps. In a dystopian world, where survival is a 24/7 occupation, the sunrise simply serves as a light source and not the beautiful vision it once was. ‘Sunrise’ is a glorious track. Clean and cheery notes muscle their way through a dark underbelly of oppression, rising from the ashes to meet the sun as it takes its place high above the city to shine down on the death and destruction below.

Title track ‘Civic’, ‘Ride Behind You (Remastered)’ and ‘Beyond Emotions (Feat. Michael Ansara)’ make for perfect night-driving companions with their beautiful piano melodies, edgy synths and dank basslines. Forget the high octane mindless drive you might be expecting; these are tracks that evoke at-the-wheel contemplation at its very best. Girl let you down? Man left town? Get out there and let the music heal your soul.

I think I’ve mentioned it in many reviews, but I do love to hear a good bit of synthwave sax, and ‘After Dark’ doesn’t disappoint. The sax is just wonderful in that lazy, hazy jazz club kind of way, and sounds fantastic through headphones.

Okay, ready for some of that Alex Giudici diversity I was talking about before? Well, next track ‘Star Wolf (Feat. Jock Blaney)’ really changes the pace. The opening notes put me in mind of Sega’s ‘ToeJam and Earl’ and I hope I don’t do Alex an injustice by saying that! It’s pure Funkatron through and through! And then I’ll be damned but we’re treated to some panpipes! I wasn’t expecting those to appear, and usually I hate panpipes with a passion. And all of this amidst some wonderful synth action and ‘Star Fox’ samples. Ah, the memories.

Want to know what drew me to ‘Civic’ despite the artwork? You don’t? Well I’m going to tell you anyway. Scrolling through the track listing I came across ‘Rhythm of the Night (Remastered)’ and that sparked my interest! And it works! Really well! I imagine this was a lot of fun to break down and produce. Deliciously layered with an eclectic range of synths, this will have you singing the chorus you know so well whilst also appreciating the original track in a completely new light.

Hey do you want more of those quirky slightly off-kilter notes? Do you have a bit of a thing for evil computers? Then you’re going to love next track, H.A.R.D.A.C. (Feat. Kevin Conroy and Melissa Gilbert). This is my favourite track on the album, and conjures up images of a trash-strewn, post-apocalyptic landscape, devoid of obvious human life and inhabited only by android lifeforms. It’s only when you look closer that you realise the androids are people you once knew from a life you can barely remember.

The album is rounded off nicely with two killer tracks of equal merit, but with very different soundscapes. ‘Sex Sells’ is top-heavy with drums and accompanied by a brutal throbbing bassline and beautifully arranged synths. This is an album of contrasts and closes wonderfully with gorgeous heartstring puller ‘Tears in Rain’.

When you listen to ‘Civic’ a few times it’s obvious this is an album that has been carefully planned to perfection rather than just a compilation of finished tracks that have been lumped together for the sake of releasing an album. What’s next for Alex? Well, he’s got a number of things in the works including remixing the original Tomb Raider theme and more remixes from the Portal 2 soundtrack. You’ll also find a beautiful piano rendition of title track ‘Civic’ and an awesome mix of La Roux’s ‘In For The Kill’ on his Soundcloud channel.

Alex Giudici’s ‘Civic’ album is available to purchase on Bandcamp here, and comes very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Synthetix Sundays

On this Sunday's show Marko presents The Ladies of Synth Special 4!

He's got four big interviews with the amazing artist and synth producer Mizucat, the super talented vocalist and synthwave producer JJ Mist, super talented artist and 80s aficionado Heather Hermann aka Duchess of Deco and also the phenomenal new sci-fi themed synth producer Sonic Synergist.

Marko's co-host for this special will be his real life partner in crime Jazzi Marzcat; to give  a unique female perspective and touch on the music and scene.

Heaps of download code giveaways and the high calibre entertainment you expect and demand from Synehtix Sundays!

Come join Jazzi and Marko as they  showcase the very best female producers and artists in the synthwave scene.

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

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cryocon's Neonomicon

By Jerry Herrera

We like to use the term “cinematic” a lot because, well, much of the music we love is inspired by iconic (and some not so iconic) movies. It takes a lot to conjure up a story and compose a song that conveys the action and setting that you’re imagining. Any song can travel, but it’s an entirely different beast when trying to illustrate with music. In this respect, Cryocon has created a rich and disturbing fiction in a short but haunting EP.

Neonomicon imagines the edges of the known world, the border of natural and supernatural, terrestrial and extraterrestrial, flesh and spirit. One finds themselves alone on a derelict spaceship, washed in green and the flickering lights of computer monitors, caught between trying to find out what happened to everyone else and hiding from an unknown terror stalking the hallways. We find ourselves at a table on a stormy night, hands joined and chanting, awaiting word from the nether realms. We speed down a lonely road, and we keep passing the same hitchhiker over and over…

The music itself is less synth horror or metal than it is synth menace. Whereas we are slapped in the face and forced to look upon the face of whatever demons or zombies lurk in the minds of the producer of more aggressive tracks, Cryocon instead builds the music around an unseen entity and each track is an outline of a different creature. The instrumentation is also more of a beefier version of ‘80s scores with a sci-fi/industrial twist. I can recall similar sounds in Goblin and John Carpenter scores. The ambience is more relaxed but no less ominous than other similarly themed releases. We may be on calmer waters but we’re still floating toward R’lyeh.

Cryocon I think is a bit alone in this arena because while we hear horror and metal and cinematic score and sci fi tracks, it’s rare that we hear all these elements at once and perfectly complimenting each other. I’ve said of other Cryocon work, that it reminds me of the score for Event Horizon if it had been made in the ‘80s and directed by Paul Verhoeven. My head is full of monstrous aliens, haunted machines, and moving shadows. If you’re looking for a genuine and meaty alternative, you can do no better than Cryocon’s sci fi synth menace retro spiritual hauntcore.

Cryocon's Neonomicon EP is available for purchase on Bandcamp here and comes very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Rhythm Vivisection Halloween Mixtape 2016

Get ready to rock the official Synthetix.FM soundtrack for Halloween 2016! It's this year's edition of the Rhythm Vivisection Halloween Mixtape! This year we're rockin one of the greatest zombie movies of the 80s with The Return Of The Living Dead providing the story for this year's epic mix!

Prepare to be taken on a ride in to the darkness, where fear is your copilot and your imagination is sure to run away with you over two hours and forty minutes of the raddest scares and dares conceivable!


1, Terminal - Megan McDuffee

2, Dark Corners Of The - Aquawave

3, Voyage D’amour - AlphaRISC

4, Calivania - F.U.B.A.R.

5, You’re Pretty Cute For A Ghost - Felikitty!

6, Midnight Maniac - Night Prowler

7, The Killer Known As Hex (Sect 66 Mix) - Vector Sector

8, Midnight Pursuit - James Jupiter

9, Invasion - Expender

10, Le Porte dell’Inferno - Abobo

11, Black Cat - McGain

12, Idolatry - Neon Shudder

13, Sleepaway - Mr Eff

14, Midnight Wings - CONFRONTATIONAL (Featuring Ugo Laurenti)

15, Vampire - Damokles

16, Call The Ponies - The Warhorse

17, Aeons - Gloom Influx

18, Supply Run - Amplitude Problem

19, I Cannot Be Killed - TSTR

20, Dominus Infernus - Glitch Black

21, Covenant - Electric Dragon

22, Can’t Stop Me From Running - Toby Free

23, Herbert West - Atom Force

24, Death And Gold - Powernerd

25, She Wolf - Oceanside85

26, Night Falls - Cryocon

27, Relentless Bug Hunt - MICR0CHIP TERR0R

28, We Came, We Saw, He Died - SYNTHICIDE

29, Escape Through The Night - Kyle Reese Revenge

30, The Midnight Masquerade - Night At The METROPOL

31, D3D - Aerospeed

32, Night of Dread - Agent Murphy

33, The Old Gods - VoidBreaker

34, Ichor The Blood - 20SIX Hundred

Many thanks to all the producers who provided their music for this year's final community mixtape!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Wild Style Of Robots With Rayguns

By Jerry Herrera

Something I’ve wondered in my journeys in this retro wonderland, is why producers only tap into a few of the myriad of retro influences at their disposal. Don’t get me wrong, I think every subgenre has artists who further the boundaries of what that particular sound can be, and in their own little way are wizards and necromancers that have breathed life into what would have been an otherwise forgotten chapter in music history.

But one of my favorite things to do in traffic is put on the “old school” radio station and just rock out to all the R&B classics, the freestyle jams, and all the pioneering hip hop I can cram into that hour or so on the freeway. The music is just the right balance of brilliant and cheesy and there was a lot of innovation happening that’s either been forgotten or bastardized by modern pop. So I really wish more producers in our scene would explore those sounds a little more, or at least take a few hints from the pop/club music of that era.

Robots With Rayguns is the first producer I think of when I think of retro pop and dance. Indeed when I first started exploring the genre and was looking for artists that “got” that sound and aesthetic, the video for Sugarbaby stands out in my memory. It was pretty much everything I could hope for. There was nostalgia but with a modern twist and relevant sensibilities, with all the makings of something I would hear on current Top 40 stations.

RWR is back with Wild Style and he continues to bring the freshness. There’s a signature sound that RWR has maintained throughout his releases and while he explores a lot of different genres on Wild Style, this sound anchors the whole album. Thick basslines, dreamy pads, and pitch bent vocal samples and snippets are the cornerstones of a RWR track but I also don’t think they become repetitive or overused at any point on the album. It’s an addictive sound and RWR effectively uses those tools to create many different feels across Wild Style.

While there may be a unifying handful of elements on Wild Style, stylistically the album goes to many different places and I’m personally satisfied with RWR’s exploration of each. There’s a little bit of hip hop, a little pop, a little freestyle and a little bit of late ‘80s/early ‘90s dance in there. RWR wears his influences on his sleeve and all of them are fun and brash and colorful. I can’t think of that many synthwave artists that are as in love with the bright and funky fresh side of the ‘80s as RWR is.

Probably the best example, in an album full of adrenalin inducing tracks, is Sweat It Out. I feel like the whole album leads up to this track. It features all the signature RWR elements and it’s charming enough and stays within the harmless dance neighborhood but toward the end, it explodes. It’s a track that starts off thumping but ends with a slam, and while you might have been kind of dancing in your chair while listening to Wild Style, Sweat It Out yanks you out of your chair and demands that you throw down your best moves right there in the middle of the living room.

It can be argued that RWR is one of, if not THE only guy out there with this fun and funky approach to the synth scene so the world is kind of his oyster. Yet he doesn’t let that dull his sense of quality and integrity. Wild Style is full of content and puts a smile on anyone’s face. However you purchase it, make sure you play it loud.

Robots With Rayguns presents Wild Style, available on his Bandcamp page here in downloadable formats as well as limited edition runs on cassette and compact disc and it comes very, very higly recommended from Synthetix.FM

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Synthetix Sundays

Synthetix Sundays is back with another episode to make your weekend the right kind of retro, only on Radio Pure Gently!

This week Marko's interviewing Michael and Lisa Marie from Hamerzya and also rockin like a melonfarmer with Street Cleaner!

All the regular segments with Paul Dress2Kill Daly, Synthetix Spotlight with Dallas and Quality Time With Shithouse are scheduled for your listening pleasure and delectation.

Loads of hot music, download code giveaways and the most fun you can have on your own with your pants off on a Sunday is just waiting for you!

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:

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Synthetix Sundays

Synthetix Sundays is primed and set to EXPLODE in another hot new episode! Marko's revitalised, recharged, resplendent and ready to rock you to your foundations with all the hottest music set to devastate, only on Radio Pure Gently!

This week Marko's interviewing dark synth lord Electric Dragon, both members from Reapers and the one and only Cleeve Morris.

Regular demolitions experts Paul Dress2Kill Daly, Dallas' Synthetix Spotlight and Quality Time With Shithouse are going to ensure a dynamite detonation of synth devastation!

It's going to be firestorm of the hottest tracks from the scene with tonnes of giveaway download codes and super exclusive track from The Encounter featuring Stilz to premier so make sure you don't miss out on all the incendiary excitement!

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 Feature Tracks:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bart Graft's Universe

By Andrew B. White

It’s a long way to Tipperary, but fortunately, thanks to the internet you don’t have to trek all the way there to hear the terrific music of Bart Graft. Hailing from Ireland, Bart Graft has released over a dozen albums and EPs since early 2015 – no mean feat it itself but a commendable effort given the consistent quality of the material. His new album “Universe” contains a solid 12 tracks, or 15 if you count the short opening track ‘Intro’ (somewhat obligatory for synthwave releases) and ‘Palladian Sky’ and ‘Outer Limits’ which are both ‘interlude’ type tracks. If you are already a fan of Bart Graft’s previous work you’ll already know the sonic goodness that’s in store here.

As mentioned, the album starts off with the instrumental track simply titled ‘Intro’. This is a very atmospheric track focusing on spacey, late-80s Roland D-50 type sounds and the addition of a subtle vocal sample. Next-up we have the album’s title track ‘Universe’, launching big drums and tasty melodic rock guitars at you, played by Mr Graft himself. Its “action sequence” city here folks!

Bringing things back down is ‘Altitude’ – a romantic, instrumental synthpop cut which is followed by another guitar-heavy track ‘Angel’s Rose’. Here, the guitars are complimented by ascending synth pads giving the track a ‘wide-open’ feel. ‘Outer Limits’ clocks-in at a mere 1:21, a suitable number for framing a scene in a mid-80s Madonna movie, and just like 80s Madge, it’s a bit of a tease, leaving you wanting more.

‘The Blue Planet’ gets funky with a nice RnB/pop vibe, solid bassline and a small dose of hammer-on guitar. I can imagine Axel Foley mincing-about in a montage scene in “Beverly Hills Cop” with this one. With ‘At Aphelion’ things change direction completely with a drum-less, outer space, soundtrack bent. Apparently Aphelion is the point in the orbit of an object where it is farthest from the Sun. With that in mind, the music for this track is beautifully representative of it’s title.

‘Grand Designs’ evokes “Top Gun” with its half-time drums in the verses and sprawling electric guitars, before building into a solid 4/4 beat. This is a suitably romantic track that counter-balances male blow-waves with enough testosterone for action stations if need be. I’m picturing aircraft hangers, aviator sunglasses and an epic sunrise here…

‘Fields of Bezhin’ presumably takes its title from a 1930s Soviet film “Bezhin Meadow” which was never completed. The juxtaposition of 1930s communist Soviet Union and 80s music is an interesting one. Check Bart Graft’s video of the song featuring stills from the film here. 'The Killing Joke’ in an obvious reference to the band of the same name; you can clearly hear a homage their song ‘A Love Like Blood’ in this. But sans-reference, the track still sounds like a solid original with a catchy melodic synth line.

‘Fair Is The Light’ is a play-on-words, being that the track is built on the sound and feel of the Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument). This is a fun track and nails the Fairlight drum sound that is well known across so many hit songs. According to Wikipedia “Hiraeth is a Welsh word for which there is no direct English translation. The University of Wales, Lampeter attempts to define it as homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for the Wales of the past”. So it is no coincidence then that the next track ‘Hiraeth’ emulates these emotions. A flowing instrumental track with only a little percussion and a sprinkling of Enya if I may say so.

Nicely following-on from this is ‘Lowest Winter Sun’ with it’s variating rhythm and tinkling polysynth melodies. Finally, the short interlude ‘Palladian Sky’ introduces us to to ‘The Eternal’, the last track on “Universe” – a mid-tempo instrumental and similar to ‘Grand Designs’, the style of which Graft has a real knack for successfully composing.

Bart Graft pays attention where it counts in terms of song arrangement, his choice of sounds and melodic structures. He combines these with great drum programming and skillful guitar chops. I sometimes think some instrumental tracks would be better off for having vocals but that isn’t true in Bart Graft’s case. The combined ingredients result in strong instrumental songs that come together very well. When artists are consistent across their releases, fans tend to come back for more. In that regard, those who are into melodic, feel-good 80s music will find lots to like about “Universe”. It comes very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM and is available digitally on Bandcamp via Rain Dragon Records here.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Synthetix Sundays

Synthetix Sundays is finally back!! After some horrnendous failures with technology we're able to present a new show! Please bear in mind this is a couple of weeks old now, but no less relevant and we hope entertaining, only on Radio Pure Gently!

Marko's rockin and extended interview with Arcade Summer this show as well as the regular segments with Paul Dress2Kill Daly, Dallas's Synthetix Spotlight and Quality Time With Shithouse.

There's oodles of hot tracks and download code giveaways so be sure to tune in for a great time.

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 Feature Tracks:

As mentioned in the show Synthetix.FM is partnering with Boombox Magazine. If you're a producer who'd like to have their music used in the magazine's video features please visit the site here and hook up with them on Facebook here.

The 4th Annual Synthetix.FM Rhythm Vivisection Halloween Mixtape!

As of now I'm also taking submissions for the next community mixtape. The Halloween Mixtape's become a bit of a favourite for many now and I'm hoping 2016's is rockin to the max. The stipulations are few: the music must be towards the darker end of the synth spectrums (horror synth/slasherwave/dark synth/giallo disco/etc) and have been created in the last 12 months. It doesn't have to be exclusive or unreleased, as long as it's been made since the last Rhythm Vivisection Mixtape it's all rockin.

All music MUST be sent via email to with Halloween Mixtape in the subject and the files must be MP3's (preferably 320kbps) and tagged/titled correctly with producer name and song title. Only one track per producer. Tracks must be original work, no covers, no remixes.

The cut off for submissions is Monday the 17th of October, which gives you a month to get something rockin if you don't already have something in mind.

All tracks that meet the criteria will be included in the mixtape, so please be 100% happy with your track before sending it through.

I'll be posting updates in the Synthetix Music Facebook Group so keep up with the developments there or if you have any questions please comment to this pinned post in there. And if you're new to this thing be sure to check out last year's Rhythm Vivisection Halloween Mixtape here.

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Palace For The Master Of The Universe

By Rick Shithouse

As I've well documented over the last few months I've become enlightened, entertained and entranced by a new awareness of many current bands making 80s AOR music. This is being done in such a completely authentically 80s way that it blew my mind. I finally found the the guitars and vocals to go with the synths I've been loving from the 80s inspired synth scene. Which leads us to this point; the first (hopefully of many) reviews we'll be covering on Synthetix.FM of this wonderful new generation of 80s inspired adult oriented rock.

And what an album we'll be covering first. The debut album from Palace is a virtuoso performance of 80s homage from start to finish and serves as a spectacular initiation into what all these styles are capable of. Master Of The Universe is eleven tracks of beautifully written and performed melodic rock that would fit beautifully into any classic 80s genre movie.

The lead single and title track was something I already featured on a recent Synthetix Sundays and this song on it's own made me fall in love with Palace's sound. In a true move of brash confidence the album opens with this song and sets you up for a ride that rises to a fever pitch and stays there for the entire record. 'Master of the Universe' begins with a synth loop pulled straight from an early 80s Nick Rhodes library and then rocks into huge chords and catchy riffs. The vocal performance of Michael Palace is absolutely one of the strongest aspects of this entire release and this man's voice and phrasing homages all of the best strong male vocalists of the 80s. This golden voice speaks some of the most incredibly awesome 80s cliche lyrics you're likely to hear outside of 1989 and it is an experience to behold.

Switching gears slightly the second track 'Cool Runnin'' pours even more drama into the synth and guitar maelstrom. Power, passion and fuelled by an elegantly restrained vocal performance 'Cool Runnin'' is an action/cop show/movie montage extravaganza of epic proportions. The huge chorus and story laden lyrics paint a picture that's defined by its clarity and detail. There's a genuine soul you can feel in Palace's music that resonates through each layer and especially during the solos. It's an honesty and reverence for the classic 80s sounds that comes across innately.

Following 'Cool Runnin'' is 'Man Behind The Gun'. The rock spreads deeper in this piece as the Def Leppard-esque opening salvo moves into more contemplative movements packed with dramatic vocals and uplifting melodies. The riffs are still up front but the rawness is dialed back in a similar way to how Asia worked their AOR magic in the early 80s. It's great fit for Palace's vocal style and adds another dimension to their sound.

In a similar manner, the next piece changes tack once again this time opts for the classic 80s rock ballad as their modus operandi. And what an epic it is, 'Part Of Me' is part gentle seduction and part a rousingly uplifting celebration of love. This is the 80s love theme you wish your life had running in the background. The imploring vocal performance is a huge highlight but one can never deny the awesome emotive power the synths, guitars and drums illustrate the scene with.

'No Exit' begins with a more progressive rock flavoured opening before moving into more lovelorn passages of undying love and the realisation of an eternal togetherness but not moving forward. The melancholy air of this track with its very tortured chorus add a bittersweet taste to the experience and, as always, the drama is magnified beautifully through all the band's performances.

The slower pieces on Master Of The Universe I've found to be deeply rewarding as the repeated listens bring out so many more dimensional qualities weaved into the sound. In 'Matter In Hand' we get a beautifully orchestrated anthem that shines with positivity and character while the vocals add a new kind of delivery to the story. Palace's singing becomes almost conversational and intimate yet then pulls back for an unrestrained and powerful chorus. It's inspiring and heartfelt and completely rockin to the max.

The musicianship in the band really does elevate this record beyond my expectancies. The attention to detail to every second and every instrument is like its been done by seasoned veterans and there's an element of control that exists on every sound to keep it as true the 80s as possible. A great example of this is the guitar solos. They're devoid of modern rock or metal trappings and instead make every note and chord count. This goes the same for the drums which adhere beautifully to traditionally 80s patterns with each fill and flourish being crafted with love and care. 'Path To Light' is a wonderful example of this, especially in regards to the drum performance. The soundscape just comes together with superbly refined detail without breaking decades.

'Rules Of The Game' brings back the melancholy love song but this time goes much darker and the broken hearted voice gives a soulful performance in front of the musical drama. The song is thoroughly fraught and wrought with openly wounded emotions and comes straight from the heart. It's an engaging and also pained song that will have you remembering the last person who broke your heart all too vividly.

The breaking up continues into the next piece 'She Said It's Over'. This track in particular I've really fallen love with over my many listens of this album. The beauty of the opening passages lead into some of the most eloquent lyrics on the record and the melodic refrain is the perfect foil for the stunning chorus. The hook of which runs deep and its interplay with the verse refrain is a huge payoff. The mix is intoxicating and the story is a great take on the emotional roller coaster of a break up that fails to bring closure with the raw nerves of love unable to find solace.

Things begin looking up on the album's second last track 'Stranger's Eyes'. It seems like there's a little four-track story in Master Of The Universe of a particularly bad break up and this is the final chapter. I fell in love with the begining of this track with it's beautiful acoustic details and magnificent backing harmonies. This lyrics once again recall lost love, and the familiar deja vu others can bring us. Drowning in a stranger's eyes is a powerful lyric and you'll  be reminiscing and feeling nostalgic along with Palace the whole way through.

The album finishes with a resurgent celebration of love, life and rock'n'roll after the previous chapters of hearbreak. The Palace sound is reborn with passion and fervour. The energy of this song is almost blinding in its completely overpower magic. The chorus alone is sure to inspire even the most jaded listener with its brazen postivity and unapologetically rockin presence. The back end of the track is full of gorgeous vocals that get more than a little dangerous and as the music fades out you'll be feeling just a little 'Young, Wild And Free'; guaran-damn-teed.

Palace's Master Of The Universe album is presented by Frontiers Music on their site here on CD, as well as through Amazon here and for digital download on iTunes here. You can also stream it on Spotify via the page on Frontiers Music site . This record is definitely one of my favourite musical experiences this year. As someone new to modern generation of 80s AOR sounds this has been a wonderfully rich initiation into this heavily rewarding music. If you're any kind of fan of 80s movie soundtrack singles, early 80s AOR, late 80s chart rock or any music that wears its 80s heart on its sleeve for all to see, unabashedly and shamelessly, then this is an album you need to experience. Here's to more good times and great rock'n'roll and this album comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

CTRL ALT ESC's Commencement

By Jerry Herrera

CTRL ALT ESC is a Canadian duo from Toronto that have entered the synth pop/rock arena with both some catchy tunes and somewhat ironic sensibilities. It’s always an interesting and enjoyable challenge to decide whether an act is making music one would hear in the ‘80s or making music inspired by retro influences. It’s a fine, ever shifting line between the two and I don’t think many artists have a clear idea themselves. What we get then, are moments where the music takes us back to that era and moments when the genre is pushed forward by retro inspired creativity.

Commencement is an album that does both, sometimes in brilliantly timed shifts or additions of instrumentation, other times it can be a bit like a kid playing with a light switch. I think this is more a symptom of the vocal synthpop genre than anything else. It’s difficult to be a “serious” band when your influences can be seen as cheesy or “lol so retro.” You can’t really write a pained love song when you’ve got video game blips on the track, for example.

However, Commencement hooked me right away. Access is the cyberpunk intro to the album that does a great job of getting those hairs on the arms standing up before dropping us into Your Love Is Dangerous, which is itself full of ‘80s swagger and confidence. It’s definitely Robert Palmer through a dystopian lens. The following tracks are in both theme and construction similar to the first proper song. There’s not a question that these dudes are talented and have an ear for that retro sound, across the board. There’s both rocking guitars and synths, a little bit of pop and R&B flavor, plenty of 8-bit arcade accents and lyrics about fast women and guarded hearts abound. Indeed, I kept thinking of Shattered Dreams by Johnny Hates Jazz when listening to Commencement.

This is also the album’s (only) weakness. Every song has vocals and I fully admit to being a hypocrite for simultaneously loving vocal synth and also using that as a mark against an artist. But a top to bottom album featuring vocals is going to blend together at some point. Even vocalists I love deeply aren’t featured on every track by a given artist. This is also meant to say that I think the musical content on the album is plenty meaty, and some instrumental tracks here and there would be most welcome.

 All that being said I think that the foundation is there for an amazing synthpop band and I get strong Chromeo vibes from these dudes. Probably the most praise I can give them is for their cover of Bizarre Love Triangle. It’s a wonderful homage to the original without trying to outdo it, or take it in a boring, twee direction. Remember Frenté? The last track, One Shot, is an emotional synth ballad about being a tough dude with a broken heart that evoked some bromotions from me.

Commencement is above all things, a pop album. From the production value to the songwriting, the aim is clear that this act wants to go places on retro synth wheels. Their sound for the most part seems to aim to be mistaken for actual ‘80s pop hits, as if seeing their name on the charts next to Hall and Oates, Glenn Frey, and Robert Palmer wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. I’m already picturing their music featured in the opening credits of a crime/romance drama, the title of the film spelled out in neon cursive as CTRL ALT ESC sings about mean streets and tough women. An enjoyable first effort, and enough genuine artistry to warrant an excitement for what comes next for these guys.

CTRL ALT ESC presents Commencement, available for purchase on their Bandcamp page here and comes very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Synthetix Sundays

Marko's back and rockin another massive episode of Synthetix Sunday for your listening pleasure, only on Radio Pure Gently!

Thia episode features interviews with the slasherwave visual artist of choice, the one and only Ariel Zucker-Brull. Marko's also getting down to business with the Bishop Of Battle himself, Bob Battle!

The usual peanut gallery of regulars is also rockin the scene with Paul Dress2Kill Daly, Dallas' Synthetix Spotlight and Quality Time With Shithouse all ready to rock you how you need to!

There'll be tonnes of hot new tunes and a whole mess of giveaway download codes for those listening live 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 Feature Tracks:

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Alpharisc - Alpha Dream

By James Mann

Within the last several years the world of synthesizer based music has grown immensely. Bedroom artists are emerging through the plethora of digital audio workstations and managing to produce retro and 80s inspired music right at home. (I will admit some more memorable than others) Alpharisc is what I would call Australia’s not so hidden gem. Shane Yates has been producing music for years. His powerful and confident range of sounds demonstrates this proficiency with such clarity, and anyone who has had the fortune of listening to his extensive discography knows what I’m talking about. Beautiful production, dynamic arrangements and an overwhelming nod to the sensibilities of yesteryear with undeniable excitement and energy. However, the approach in producing Alpha Dream was quite different for Shane, and the sounds will not only change the way you think about Alpharisc, but music in general.

What I’ve come to sincerely appreciate about Alpharisc is the range of influences he employs when it comes to producing music. Electro, house, ambient, downtempo, soundtrack scoring and much more. Through each piece there are tinges of these inspirations present, yet the majority of his work under this moniker has suggested a strong love affair with the 80s…until now. ‘The way I put together the release was noticing a theme with a handful of the tracks I had been making, so I decided to keep the feeling similar. Soundtrack, chilled out ambient nostalgia. The tracks were all made around the same time, with a few of the chord progressions coming from projects from the late 90's (Body Swap & Exactly Where I Was Sitting).

Alpha Dream delivers the most mature and flushed sounding tunes I’ve heard from this Melbourne based producer. A remarkable and memorable foray into a wonderland of sounds, touching on horror and Italo themed compositions, early 90s world house, dystopian David Lynch soundscapes, downtempo and psy-chill, music that would hang with the best of Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive and beyond. This release has such detail, thought and atmosphere as each track truly stands apart with it’s own identity. There is simultaneously a sense of cohesion and umbrella of moods which tie everything together effortlessly, while instilling an overwhelming sense of nostalgia and contentment.

Body Sweep opens the dream and strikes through the senses with a Fulci/Italo inspired masterpiece, arpeggiating through your fears and vulnerability while evoking such strong imagery. It’s updated from a late 70s analog horror wonderland with a percussion backing that pulls the composition years ahead. A unique pairing of sounds that Alpharisc creates for himself and listeners. There is a roominess and space which occupies between the notes, as his production and equalizing allow for such beautiful effect. What a strong opener, as the ominous melodies of horror make it for an ideal score. I’m dreaming already.

Switching gears and blasting through world house sounds of the early 90s with downtempo and breakbeat finesse, Heart Breaker takes you to those better years. Already I love that Alpharisc isn’t pinning himself down in just an 80s sound, he unapologetically steers you into music he loves and what he is inspired by. It makes these beautiful and brassy chords and licks that much more appealing. Underwater sounding plucks over gorgeous and open floral pads immediately take me back in time with a smile. There is a nostalgia here with the playful melody that dots the synthscape, and I fully relate to this. Fantastic.

Exactly Where I was Sitting channels the true Lynchian side of Alpha. Mulholland Drive comes to mind. Analog and gorgeous glassy synths create a telling landscape with vibrancy with ominous overtones. Staying true to his love affair with video game inspired music, a chip tune/NES synth lays over the arrangement to make for a unique and telling combination. He really manages to nail such a strong chord progression. Another facet of the Alpharisc project that satiates the ears and demonstrates the versatility of this producer. Already the notion and memories of his past work are temporarily forgotten, these are new sounds and they are simply scrumptious.

Free Fall immediately signals a strong Boards of Canada sound. Atmospheric, downtempo with a cyclical percussion. Being that BoC is one of my all time favorite bands, it’s no surprise that I adore this track. Touching on their influence with his own interpretation makes for an entirely refreshing and new experience. The bridge is highly emotional and executed so well. I just LOVE that Shane is taking his project in such a new direction. This is honestly a sound I wouldn’t have expected to hear from Alpharisc, but the need for an artist to not just reinvent but also produce music for themselves and not just to satiate fans is paramount. I had a chance to catch up with Shane and he told me this about the work and some of the Boards throwback sounds.’The difference with this release is the two decades of Boards of Canada influence that some may be able to identify, I have been quite fond of their music since I accidentally discovered them in 1996 with their EP Twoism.’

Living in Misery is a downtempo beauty. Hypnotic, emotional and reminiscent of early Massive Attack with an almost dark wave approach. Combining elements of Clan of Xymox with an ethereal draw playing out, I simply love this. A trip hop beat drifts through the swirling pads and creates a confident and stunning arrangement I just get lost in. Pensive and sad at the same time, Living In Misery is one of my favorites on Alpha Dream. This is the essence of dreaming.

Release My Army is an exceptionally well crafted tune that evokes strong images of a video game OST, but not just any game. Uncharted 4 and up when it comes to caliber. Arp oriented lines build around a somber mood while a breakbeat builds in the background. Steel and icy sounding pads come together for a powerful piece that comes in waves. Again the craft and innate song structuring Alpharisc has honed in on over the years plays out in splendid order. Industrial tinges and airy bursts of chords accentuate the orchestra inspired piece. Spectacular.

Paying homage to the one and only Erik Satie, Alpharisc embarks on his own interpretation of Gymnopedies. This has a Burt Baccarat sound, a jazz styled grounding of chords while a brassy lead take us through the familiar journey of one of the most lasting and beautiful pieces ever written. Instead of evoking feelings of sadness, there is a vibrancy in this though Alpha’s choice of synthesizers. Lasting and new, this is redefined in such an endearing manner. Massive points and impeccable choice to close out my dream.

What Alpharisc has managed to do in Alpha Dream is something exceptional. He demonstrated a remarkable proficiency in genres outside of previous releases, and the results are spectacular. Staying true to music that most inspired him in producing Alpha Dream, as an artist he broke through barriers and boxes, notions and assumptions that he may indeed just be one “kind” of producer. How terribly wrong could you be? As punishment I suggest looping Gymnopedies for a full day to instill a new kind of thinking. A different way of approaching music and expectations, as the two can coincide in not such an attractive manner. This came from the man who blew us all away with strong 4/4 130 BMP synthwave tracks we could only listen to while palm trees and beaches flew past, right? For shame. As for what’s next in the Alpha World? Lots. 'In the near future I’ll be creating some more Italo inspired beats, remixes and soundtrack themes. I am very happy I have a group of people following me, listening and sharing kind words about the music I make. To be able to make music I truly love and have others enjoy it, is a very rewarding feeling.'

The moods and results of this beautiful release take you through a different kind of nostalgia, and one that makes it one of the most appealing and varied releases of the year. Burgeoning synth artists, please take note. Different is OK. Different is good. Different is fantastic. Make sure you when you fall asleep tonight, you choose the Alpha Dream, it’s a game changer that will have you opening your eyes in an entirely new way.

Alpha Dream is available through Future Retro Music here and comes very, very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM,

Brighter Than A Thousand Suns - Alazia

By Andrew B. White

“Alazia" is a five-song EP of collected singles released by Brighter Than A Thousand Suns (BTATS) between 2015-2016. The band is essentially a three-piece made of husband and wife Angelika and Randy Roswell, Angelika handling the lead vocals and synths with Randy on synths, programming and guitars. Third member Andre Tangredi contributes some very powerful and tasteful drums, moving things away from a strictly programmed environment. It seems that BTATS have recently relocated cities and unfortunately Tangredi has not come along for the ride. Hopefully the band will be able to find a drummer with the same talents, and judging form the band’s YouTube videos, this could be a tall order as the man has some serious ability!

The ‘Suns note that the songs on this EP sit in more in synthpop territory while future releases will be more “darker and harder rock orientated". It’s not hard to see the band making this transition as many of those elements are already present here, although somewhat restrained. Angelika’s voice is powerful and definitely has the chops to sit along bands such as Paramore (which I’m assuming is the type of direction they intend to take). There are also similarities with other contemporary synth-based pop acts such as The Naked And Famous in evidence – the large choruses and hooks on ‘Reach Out To Me’ for instance.

Make no mistake – the songs on “Alazia" are big, professionally produced, polished and nicely arranged; the point of difference to other contemporary acts being the subtlety-honed 80s influences. There’s a lot of DX7 making itself felt on ‘Reinvent’, both in the marimba lead and synth bass, and that continues across many of the other tracks. Overall the EP sits somewhere around 1987 in terms of production and sound but has been brought fully into 2016 in terms of execution.

All of the songs are very good – catchy, well written and the performances are top notch. Again, I must mention Andre Tangredi who brings some real energy to the songs with his drumming. The music might not be to the liking of those looking for outrun or more retro 80s vocal pop, but if you are a fan of the later 80s and its sophisticated, heavily studio-produced sound, there is plenty to enjoy here.

You can pick up “Alazia" along with several other releases from Brighter Than A Thousand Suns over at Bandcamp here.

2DCAT - Regressions 

By Jerry Herrera

I have no trouble admitting I was drawn to 2D Cat because of the vocals. Vocal synthwave artists are becoming more popular and I think we have some extremely talented voices contributing to our scene and it’s very exciting to hear a new one, though from what I understand they have existed in some form for a few years now. Those of you that have already listened to Regressions will make the comparison to other female vocalists in the genre but I’m not here to compare and contrast. 2D Cat is perfect pop blended with bright synths and echoed snares, reminiscent of the heavy hitters of popular New Wave, but with more neon and lasers.

There are moments during Regressions that I feel like I’m someplace with lots of marble columns and billowy curtains, other times I think 2D Cat have taken space synth and given it pop sensibilities. Instead of long voyages across alien expanses, we’re gleefully planet hopping on autopilot because the crew is too busy dancing. I think this is more them incorporating a mountain of influences rather than deliberate track design. Still I think 2D Cat is an exciting project and I believe that “Believe” could have been a hit on the radio back in the ‘80s, or at least a retro inspired film/series. Take note, Duffer Brothers.

2DCat's  Regressions is available for purchase through Bandcamp here.

The Northern Lights - Into The Flames

By Andrew B. White

The Northern Lights have had a handful of very popular tunes on Soundcloud and it’s easily to see why. Along with a number of EP and album releases over the last several years, The Northern Lights have firmly established themselves as synth stalwarts with a lush, dreamy and emotional 80s sound tied together with some solid hooks.

Hailing from California, The Northern Lights loosely sit alongside fellow residents Sellorekt LA Dreams and FM 84 in terms of musical kin. As far as comparisons go, The Northern Lights get a little deeper and denser than LA Dreams’ freeway escapades. Unlike LA Dreams, on “Into The Flames” all tracks feature vocals that are presented in a less traditional way – positioned back in the mix, rather than out-front. They have a textural quality, somewhat reminiscent of the way Liz Fraser sang in the Cocteau Twins. There’s a melody and an obvious voice but you can’t really work out the words. This delivery helps to set The Northern Lights apart and give them their unique character. Everything is also awash in a lovely reverb that enforces the dream quality of each song and although that may imply ‘dreamwave’ territory, the music here definitely rooted in nostalgic 80s magic.

The four songs on “Into The Flames” make for repeated listening. Previous fans will not be disappointed. You can get the EP now for free (or name your price) at Bandcamp here and it's worth noting they have just released a mixtape “The Lost Cassette” featuring 16 outtakes from various Northern Lights projects available here.

Alleron - Mirage

By Rick Shithouse

Ahh nostalgia. Those intoxicating memories that bring forth such powerful and fanciful future fantasies. I've recently found a growing facet of my nostalgic passions is for that late 2000s period that ushered in the new generation of 80s sounds. One of my favourite crossovers back then were the 80s driven nu-disco/house sounds that have turned into Future Funk today, but the late 2000s iteration of these styles kept equal balances of funky 80s groove-centric homage and modern French House influences of the day. If you, too, yearn for the sounds of Casio Social Club, Breakbot, DigiKid84, Bestrack and a whole generation of other producers that were rockin the scene with these inescapably groovy sounds then you'll be wanting to grab Alleron's Mirage EP as soon as possible.

Spread across the four original pieces and three remixes are some heavy duty funk house sounds that roll like a summer tide and sway with a flow that's infectiously satisfying. Opening with the pulsing energy of 'You Should Not Come' we're given highly refined funk basslines cut up with precision and dexterity in the melodies and completely on point vocal samples.

The title track, 'Mirage' walks in with a funk fuelled swagger and more pefectly sliced and diced vocals. The music is hazy and full of summery vibes and takes its own very good time to land with a beat your just champing at the bit to feel. The choppy elements rock in perfect time with groove of the bass delivering thrills and chills in beautifully generous portions.

'Cobra' takes the rockin to dramatic highs and breaks things down in a superb display of stripping things back and building them back to incredible highs in that classic late 2000s style. It feels just as fresh and new as it did then, ironically. This kind of style had such a short lifespan before it moved into other directions that I'd find it very hard to believe anyone fell out of love with this sound due to over exposure to it, so that nostalgia level runs awfully high and true throughout the Mirage.

Completing the EP is slightly different take on the stylistic approach. 'Stratosphere' slows things down just a touch and in doing so brings in just a tiny shade of vapor aesthetics. The fit is like hand in glove and proffers many possibilities using vaporwave styled samples within the context of these movements,  travelling in a French House direction; not a Future Funk one. 'Stratosphere' rocks and pops along with a hypnotising momentum that takes you deep into Alleron's crafted Mirage.

The EP contains remixes from Absolute Valentine, Alpharisc and Niky Nine who each add their own little nuances to the original tracks and in particular Alpharisc's more direct French House remixing of 'You Should Not Come' even gives an authentic to the period nostalgic remix experience.

Alleron's Mirage is a vision that will satisfy those nostalgic cravings for a lot of different facets of 80s inspired modern music, get the vibe rockin and feel that flow on Lazerdiscs Records Bandcamp page here.