Wednesday, March 30, 2016


This time round on Audio/Visual we're visiting with another classic boombox: the inimitable Sanyo M-X920 (or MR-X920 for the Japanese model),  also suffixed by a K or L depending on region/band selection. But confusion aside the X920, as it shall be referred to from this point is on, is one of the finest exponents of big portable audio systems from the glory days of the late 70s and early 80s.

Coming in at a formidable size that's more than two feet long and just over a foot high this is classic full size boombox that is just as high on features as it is on sound. The big change that occurred towards the end of the 70s was power in portable audio. The whole premise of using this kind of system outdoors as an entertainment unit meant volume had to increase dramatically from the smaller units of the mid 70s and the X920 was Sanyo's flagship model for 1980 to rock the streets like they needed to be.

With 18cm woofers and a massive (in context) 20w (or 32w, depending which marketing you believe) of power the X920 has a rich sound that is full of presence. The radio weighs around 20lbs/10kg and feels solid and high quality. Sanyo were one of the first manufacturers to really bring the higher end features of a home stereo into portable audio and from the green dial light and weighted tuner knob to the full logic cassette deck the entire experience feels refined and damned expensive. And expensive it was indeed. In 1980 the recommended retail price (as per the sales brochure) was ¥99,800. Converted to US dollars and allowing for inflation the equivalent price today for this radio would approximately US$1,400. Even though it's very hard to find an equitable price due the much cheaper costs of manufacturing today, the fact remains that the X920 was as high end in quality as a home system and made to a lofty specification.

This radio was sold worldwide and seems to show up more in Europe and Australia (outside of Japan) than in the US, which is a bit of an oddity for distribution in regards to this particular Sanyo model. The only Sanyo radios that were higher-end than the X920 were, arguably, the M-X960 BigBen and mythically rare M-X820 (both of which will be covered in future installments of Audio/Visual) but it's the X920 that really is the epitome of Sanyo's boombox design and performance. The marketing campaign in the US alone should give you an idea of the value Sanyo wanted associated with this particular model.

Several design points are very individual to this radio. The first being the overall shape with the narrowing of the top section with very defined lines. The varying textures and finishes are beautifully implemented and the chrome strip that sits under tuner dial adds a great deal of elegance and is completely without the more over-the-top uses of chrome in many later boombox models. The inputs on the back are also individual to this unit as the back section steps out and the inputs sit on the top edge behind the handle. Small plastic caps were provided to cover the RCA sockets and prevent dust and dirt building up in them too, another touch that shows the effort put into this unit's design.

As far as the pop culture cache goes for the X920 it's appeared in more recent productions than vintage media. Perhaps due to the extremely robust build quality there may have been more of these units that have lasted, but that's purely speculation on my behalf. The most notable, ironically, being in the UK serries New Tricks, as seen being carried by Nicholas Lyndhurst blasting Club Tropicana by Wham! no less. But there is one iconic album cover that has immortalised the X920 forever.

You can almost make it out beneath all the thoroughly amazing ridiculousness, but Malcolm McLaren's Duck Rock album is home to the most famous X920 of all time. Forever immortalised as a piece of pop culture that is a true icon of the time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ben Businovski Grabs The Keys To Gotanda's Maserati

By Rick Shithouse

Following the Ben Businovski experience over the last year or so has been a very engaging little journey as his sounds have evolved and matured. His first album release, Gotanda's Maserati, marks a destination point on that map that is populated with a specific kind of synthscape that Businovski has refined beautifully well in the lead up to its release.

Having personally met Ben and been an instant fan of his wonderfully dry wit and astutely keen mind gives me a bit more of a window into this record but the strength of the tracks and how they're used to describe scenes and times should be vibrantly obvious to everyone through out.

The sound is a mix of styles and thematics that goes for a minimalistic and soft aesthetic that hugs corners rather than stabbing sharp angles. The music is hugely Italo flavoured but it's a certain vintage of Italo that Businovski channels and then relocates into a Japanese space. The fact he works this particularly niche little combination into a full length album is a true sign of his creativity and ability to work to a specific theme while still exploring its many facets.

The primarily early 80s aspects of Italo Disco are taken from steamy discotheques and reborn in tall Japanese office buildings. Stripped of their upbeat and of so delightful chintzy-ness, the Italo flavours are given aloof and distinguished presence amid swells of slowly descriptive rhythms and percussion that are actively bustling and energetic while still retaining a decisive direction.

The first track sets a massively visual stage that Businovski then expands upon and tells contributing stories around. An extracted, long establishing shot of a seemingly motionless concrete, steel and glass behemoth in the still of the night, lit to enhance its monolithic presence. The music slowly unveils its intentions as a light turns on in a window; just to prove you're watching video and not just a still image. Endless corridors of empty offices, unlit, uninhabited and the only place and time some kind of solace and peace can be found for someone who's life and market is on the brink of collapse. 'Catalogue Chic' describes a way of life that's a dream for nearly everyone viewing it but the idealism captured in its glossy pages becomes a hollow untruth. A close up of a contemplative face, staring out of the window on the 25th floor, staring out across a city he doesn't even know. A haunting melody casts a cool breeze of melancholy through the still empty building. Dream or nightmare? Depends which side of the glass you're looking out from.

The sense of beauty mixed with feelings of isolation and disconnection run throughout much of Gotanda's Maserati's tracks. The title track is again haunted by some spirit that refuses to be forgotten while light synth melodies dance with lightly choreographed steps. The Asiatic nuance that Businovski merely hints at through the leads makes the atmosphere just become piquant enough to know one is definitely in Japan but not strong enough to bludgeon the listener into something more tritely stereotypical.

This subtlety is what holds the album together and allows the tracks to blend and overlap with each other as different aspects of the story move around the different people and places. The camera pans slowly across darkly lit, mirrored walls as glasses reflect and refract the light through exotic liquid colours. 'Drinks At Ginza' ushers in a suave sophistication to the scene as a driving and danceable groove brings in a wider shot of motionless men in pristine suits broken by slowly gyrating feminine shapes and colours moving as one with the beat. This track is definitely one of my favourites on the record as it has such an understated coolness to it that eschews so many classic 80s lifestyle promises and fantasies you know you'll never experience first hand.

In numerous tracks Businovski just changes the recipe slightly to allow a new location to be explored and often at critical times in the story's juncture. 'Market Corrections' follows the story the next day as the once empty office building is now a hive of worker ants desperate to extract as much as possible from the trading futures that tick and scroll by in a manic fashion. The electronic machinery used is echoed in the melody with with numbers switching by the minute amid implored shouting. The ending of this track with its plodding and deliberate pace gives a sense of exhaustion to the proceedings which adds that final piece of humanity to the mix. The companion piece to this track, 'So Much Business!' switches floors in the same office building and cuts a less frenzied groove around the office workers whose roles are far less visceral than those in the previous piece but are no less intense.

The romantic side of the album comes in two parts as the new office girl catches our protagonist's eye unexpectedly and an emotional warmth begins to rise up through the music and the starkness of his world gets given softer colours and smoother edges. The enticing first interactions of 'Right Beside You' finds that electric spark igniting desires once forgotten in the face of a career. The heart once cold now pulses with heat and passion. Melodies intertwine like holding hands as fingers hold and embrace tighter. A yearning grip tightens around hers as they become hypnotised by smoothly seductive synths. He never stood a chance and she never saw it coming.

'Sweet Nothings' continues this into a traditionally schmaltzy wonderland of romance that any watcher of Asian cinema will instantly recognise. Soft focus, bloomed colours, walks in the park, huddling under a single umbrella, him spilling his wine cooler accidentally while trying to look suave, her cutely losing her hat while playing on a child's swing in a playground. These delightfully out of context scenes are a staple of any romantic interlude and the score is perfectly upbeat and innocent with a pure naivete that's sugar synth sweet.

But the haunting ghost of the financial market that controls both their lives can't be contained for long. The nightmare of 'Neoliberal Dreams' rolls into misty view as the pressures of his career threaten to crash down. Dark shadows against boardroom walls, apologies for failure met with unfeeling eyes, the tie that begins to tighten like a noose and the night sweats and fitful, recurring dreams torture his subconscious when she's not there. He is consumed by this and he's been part of the system far to long to break away. The score to these scenes is so beautifully constructed and conveys feelings and fears in equal measure. It's undeniably dark yet full of human frailty.

'Floating Point' is the final act of Gotanda's Maserati and although it doesn't finalise the fate of the characters we've been following it does pull out for a wider perspective. The whole office building is viewed in timelapse as the employees teem in at the opening of the market and leave at its close, the night comes in and the activity ceases. But at night, as all the lights go out one at at time, one remains on on the 25th floor. The passing of hours in seconds lets us see the tiny outline of a man at the window. Motionless, staring out over a city that he doesn't even know. The night passes and the sun lights another day with brightly sparkling synth melodies bringing in a new day and then fades out to black as the employees once again repeat their work day once again.

Ben Businovski's Gotanda's Maserati is presented on his Bandcamp page here in the usual array of digitally downloadable formats. I loved every minute of this album as Businovski, like all descriptive and passionate producers, creates a wonderful soundtrack to a specific place and time. The melodies are always captivating and the subtlety of his songwriting and ability to extract such rich nuance from his structures is entrancing and intimately detailed. The mix of musical 80s cultures feels genuine and true as well, and over the course of a full album that's an achievement in itself. Gotanda's Maserati comes very, very highly recomended from Synthetix.FM.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Lock and load and get ready for a synth onslaught as AIRBORNE brings you all the most rockin recent EP releases!

Magic Dance - Haunting Me EP

By Andrew B. White

“Haunting Me” is the fourth release from NYC’s Magic Dance (Jon Siejka) and comes hot on the heels of the Kiss Scene EP which came out in late 2015. For this new EP Magic Dance changes direction slightly by adding a healthy dose of electric guitars into the mix. However, all the elements that have gained Magic Dance a steady and loyal following are still intact – a mixture of vocal and synth-based instrumental tracks with highly melodic arrangements, wrapped-up in a conventional pop song structure.

The energetic instrumental track ‘Last Light’ opens the EP and is an uplifting mix of soaring synth and electric guitars. If I’m beginning to sound like I’m cutting-and-pasting the same line in my reviews about this style of music, well… this track would be perfect in an 80s John Hughes-style film. So, Enough said!

Title track ‘Still Haunting Me’ is the first of the three vocal tracks on the EP and Jon’s voice is in fine form. His vocal style perfectly suits the style of music he creates. There’s a passion and an energy required to give these songs the authenticity that is needed to pull them off, and there is plenty of that going on here. Guitars are pushed to the fore and there’s a great solo by Tim Mackey on this.

‘I Wanna Know’ is next up and is a highlight on the EP for me. With it’s big synths and rocking guitars you’d expect to see this as a video on MTV, wedged in between Journey, Heart and Foreigner. Not only is this a great sounding song but Magic Dance manage to complete the whole package with the use of sublime breaks, builds and bridges — going the extra mile in overall songwriting craft.

‘Another Life, Another Time’ closes out the EP and is a classic rock ballad lamenting a love lost. Chugging guitars, piano, a healthy dose of chiming synths and layered chorus vocals set the scene here. I can picture the music video for this now – a girl, a guy. Rain. Longing looks, hands breaking apart in slow motion. May a little extra hairspray. A solo shot of the guy fading to back at the end… Casting calls are going up at model agencies now…

On this EP there are no remixes or alternative versions — it’s just four new strong, right-on songs. It’s great to see more artists embracing A/C rock and exploring the Top 40 chart sounds of the 80s that are not solely synth pop focused. Fans of Lachi James, Kristine and Work Of Art should definitely check this out!

The “Haunting Me” EP is currently available on Bandcamp in CD and digital formats here and comes very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.

NeodroneX - The Core

By Lachie Hunt

After two full length LPs, American synth producer NeodroneX is back with a new EP. NeodroneX (or Giancarlo Montalbano as he is known outside of the scene) has a history of creating lush rich sounds in his previous albums, and The Core is no exception.

My personal favorite tracks on The Core are Cyberscaper and Grid Slave. Both have incredibly strong lo-fi sounds to them, and are expertly done. Grid Slave features awesome synth solos with a whining saw and high pitched plucks. Cyberscaper manages to blend piano with synth stabs and a rolling bassline that is able to compete with some of the best.

The other four tracks are pretty damn fantastic too. Chromium is funky as hell and sounds like the perfect loading screen to all your grid exploits. Tetra is a very bass heavy and once again piano heavy track. D1s1ntegr8te has an epic feel to it and also features some heavy bitcrushing in the background. Core Eater revisits the synth stabs and brings the EP to a close in an amazing tense fashion.

The Core is worth your time and money for sure if you're a fan of Lost Years or anything in that style of the synthwave genre, pick up a copy on his Bandcamp page here.

The Complexity of a Man's Vision and the Consistency of an Android: An Exploration of Android Automatic's Visions EP

By Michael CA L

The word "consistent" gets thrown around a lot, and while I don't believe any single adjective (especially one so lacking in creative substance) should be the definitive descriptor of any artist and their work, there's definitely something to be said about consistency when it's coupled with terms of higher value and significance. When an artist is willing and able to explore new terrain, go in unique and innovative directions with each new work, and yet maintain a certain quality and poised follow-through in the design of each of his efforts that elevates them in a manner that is striking to the receiver, regardless of the new directions being explored, then maybe the word "consistent" gains a bit of leverage. Such is the case with Detroit's Michael Gene Graham, more commonly known among retro-synth fans as Android Automatic, and his latest effort, the Visions EP, is a perfect example of consistency coupled with innovation and a succinct, precise clarity of vision.

The work of Android Automatic first gained my attention with the Watching Stars EP, which was released in late 2014. With its slick and streamlined compositions and production, perfectly optimized mastering by David Klug, and vivid, glossy, cybernetic and steel-plated cover art courtesy of Basil Murad (aka Blood + Chrome), I was hooked from the very first listen and have looked forward to and thoroughly enjoyed each subsequent release. With Visions, the listener is treated to the same detailed and deliberate production and song-design (and the same precision mastering from David Klug), and yet Android Automatic (as is the recurring trend) manages to configure his latest effort with fresh sounds, unique songwriting angles, and the vivid, expressive cover art of Alexandre Lemoing at Neon Dreams Designs.

Saturday Night in the City

Appropriately titled, the opening track on the EP has a kinetic gravity to it that draws the listener into the light/dark flickering strobe of urban nightlife. Rolling along on a disco-inspired beat that is complimented by a thumping bass line, the listener is propelled onward into the nocturnal machinery of the city. Above the street-level flow is shimmering, melodic synth work and sleek guitar riffs, while subsurface there's a sweeping spaciousness that the listener could get lost in. It's a smooth, striking track that burns with a kind of steadiness, surety and vintage elegance that's rich with sensation, confidence and texture.

Distant Eyes

"Distant Eyes" is a track that resonates with my love of strong arpeggios that center a track and add a certain element of control and deliberation. At two minutes and twenty-five seconds in length, it's the EP's shortest track and one that seems to end just as soon as it begins due to the attention-grabbing bounce and vitality that shines through it. The distinct combination of boisterousness and focused organization is unique, and the contrast between the two ensured that my focus was singular and unwavering throughout the song's brief but memorable duration. We've all heard songs before that left us wanting more. Well, listen to this one and start begging.


The EP's eponymous track brings the tempo down to a slower speed, and inspires visions of murky, densely-packed underground 80's social venues - places where smoking was permitted, and smouldering looks and hazy thoughts were part of the ritual. Make no mistake, though. The downtempo nature of the beat isn't meandering, nor is it lost in a fog (which is more than can be said for the clientele which frequent the darkened establishment within the imagined vision). On the contrary, it's a beacon through which the listener can trace a clear path to the forefront of their own lucidity. With an arpeggio synth and lead melody that are clear, strong and purposeful, and a bass line that is robust and unwavering in its measured steps, "Visions" is quite a trip.

Long Way Home

The final track on Visions brings the listener out from the underground and into the light. It maintains a downtempo step, but gone is the haze and fire-glow ambience, replaced instead by a kind of crystalline virtue that fades into view and re-acclimatizes the listener with a breath of cleaner air and a clearer headspace. The track steers gently but steadily towards a moment of singular, cumulative radiance (you'll know it when you hear it) that is truly something to behold. This moment is more than just a powerful and striking piece of music - it's one that's encapsulating and paradigmatic, in which each of the four visions on the EP seem recollected, reviewed, re-appreciated and yet one which is also beautifully distinct and in and of itself. It's a thing of beauty, and due to its sheer power and all-encompassing sound, a fantastic and perfectly-suited way to finish the EP.

The ability of Android Automatic to move within his sweet spots while at the same time reconfiguring and expanding his sounds is one of the reasons his music is so continuously appealing and, sure, for the sake of wrapping things up neatly, let's return to the word "consistent." With the Visions EP, the artist takes four snapshots that are framed within his own style and sound but works with them in such an inventive and dynamic way that they burst far beyond their borders; in doing so, Android Automatic delivers another masterful exercise in synthetic expression, reaffirming himself as a truly notable force within the retro-inspired scene. The result? An EP that comes very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.

Visions is available here through Android Automatic's Bandcamp website.

LNDRMN - Concept EP

By Sarah Halloran

So, when you think about artificial intelligence, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Man vs machine in a post-apocalyptic landscape? A quick game of Global Thermonuclear War? But what if a mechanism became self-aware and developed a fascination with humans and human emotions without wanting to automatically destroy them?

LNDRMN’s concept EP is a “collection of stories centered around a very special, technological creation - a sentient mechanism that can think and feel just like a human being”. Fans of the vocoder will instantly fall in love with this EP, and each story or track is told from the point of view of the sentient mechanism, or Alphadroid as he eventually names himself.

There are beautifully bright moments but also a dark undercurrent to this EP that suggest feelings of confusion, love, enlightenment and futility - in other words, what it’s like to be human. Stand out track for me was “Alphadroid”, but more of that in a moment. “We Are Human” starts us on our journey through Alphadroid’s self-awareness, and delivers crisp percussion, a cosmic melody and plenty of electronic angst. It’s a shame I can’t include the backstory and lyrics for each track here, but they really are worth a look while listening to this EP. You really do get the whole package with LNDRMN.

The artwork is pretty awesome too. We are carried through the EP on a wave of detailed and beautifully produced melodies, well thought out lyrics and rocket-propelled beats. And throughout, I was rooting for Alphadroid and hoping he’d find what he was searching for. I do love a happy ending! The EP culminates in a real stomper in the form of “Alphadroid”. The beats thump, the bass bangs and there is an almost ominous mood to the melody and lyrics as we realise our sentient hero may be becoming a little too big for his metal frame. The final line “I am the Alphadroid. A superior humanoid” leaves us hanging. Is he about to give the T-1000 a run for its money, or settle down in a beautiful cottage and lead a peaceful and happy life? I’ll leave you to decide.

LNDRMN's Concept EP is available on his Bandcamp page here in the usual array of digitally downloadable formats

VHS Glitch - Chrome Death OST

By Lachie Hunt

This release is a bit different to most we cover in that it's actually an OST to a video game. However, there's a lot to love about VHS Glitch's Chrome Death OST. The way a producer approaches this kind of project is always interesting, as writing for a purpose and with a motive is a skill that definitely has to be crafted. VHS Glitch can add another feather to his synth cap as he creates a befitting soundtrack to this particular game. Need more convincing? Check out the trailer.

The real standout track here is Chrome Death itself, beginning the five track OST in powerful form. The synth stabs and sliding leads are able to make the listener feel an intense feeling of speed, despite the slow BPM of the song itself. The guitar that enters later in the track feels both chill and fitting. Written as the theme to the game this does everything possible to make sure you know what you're in for. My other favourite track here is Pedal to the Metal, which has hard hitting drums to it and also has a much more Dark Synth style sound to it.

The three other tracks are also worthy; Burned Asphalt is equal parts ambient and OutRun, with incredible synth stabs thrown in. Moment of Silence is a slower paced heavy guitar track and The End with its running bassline also somehow manages to stay fairly calm for the most part. In the context of the game however, all the tracks take on a personality all their own, just how a game soundtrack should work.

 This OST/EP release is available for purchase through VHS Glitch's Bandcamp here and the game itself is available on iTunes here.

Absinth3 - Retropolis

By James Mann

I could preface this introduction with cliche phrases like “Fasten your seatbelts” or, “Prepare to have your mind blown,” but I won’t. While this is entirely tempting mostly in part because these make perfect sense when describing the new album Retropolis from Absinth3, I’ll leave it with this. It’s time to set your sights for a new year, a new era, and a new kind of artist that delivers some of the most emotionally driven 80s retro themed music you have heard before.

Gracing each track with such care and utmost sophistication, this music prodigy who is just 16 years old is packing top notch compositions with an astounding ability to hone in on dynamic melodies and grooves. The signature Absinth3 sounds allow you to drift off into another dimension. A better time. The 80s. Impeccable and crisp production deliver rich and full bodied, glistening works of art that aren’t just soundtrack worthy, but across the board outstanding and intimidatingly talented pieces. Notable varieties in tempos and energies are evident after a full listen, and each subsequent spin outlines more layers and surprises than before. The release steers the listener through a maze of grooves and emotions, touching on glassy synths, funky beats reminiscent of ABC, Roxy Music, warm pads, arpeggiated base lines and tapping into an unmistakable Teena Marie, 80s should disco sound with lush female vocal accompaniments.

It’s evident this musician has a great deal of experience for such a young age, the detailed chords and symphony of instruments are well crafted, each layer occupying a relevant and fitting role to transport and usher you back to your favorite John Hughe’s scene, or nightclub when all the women were powdering their noses. One aspect of Absinth3’s music is the extraordinary usage of female vocals to accompany his arrangements. He switches tones and energy with a variety of guests such as Kaye Kiernan, Lisa Marie Perkins and Chelsea Owen. Each vocalist manages to add such a strong presence that the songs benefit greatly. It’s encouraging to see someone inspire and stack up to some of the larger names in the scene, bringing vocals to the table that truly work. There’s something about his music that’s years beyond his age, and undoubtedly one of the top contenders in 80s inspired music production.

In tracks like Long Island, Absinth3 manages to immediately capture the moods which are perfect indicators for the journey through Metropolis. Emotional and sensible chord progressions play in tandem, and dance across the speakers with a sense of joy and love. I can hear a Timecop1983 influence, but he already manages to own the sound with his unique blend of synths and well, his approach. The beautiful and haunting voice of Kaye Kiernan enter and bump this track up to one of the tastiest arrangements I’ve heard in a while. I’m amazed how this (dare I say kid) possesses such a mature, innate ability for song structuring. An incredible bridge and refrain seals the ends on a wonderful track, and the rest of the album manages to maintain the lush and powerful tunes.

Trust Is A Curious Word explodes with a highly emotive 80s syncopation of full on energy and nostalgia. A downtempo beat is layered with a rich almost calypso arpeggiation while a slap funk bass and glassy notes, warm pads and accents culminate in a audio delight. And….what’s that around the corner? Oh, just another spectacular female guest vocalist who is born for this arrangement. She (Chelsea Owen) manages to rock out a Teena Marie queen of soul vibe with a stunning pair of vocal chords that deliver a powerhouse accompanyment. This is dance floor worthy. Car worthy. Soundtrack worthy, it’s all around incredible. One of my favorites on the album.

Tracks like Metropolis steer you into a more introspective, thoughtful and mature side of Absinth3. Miami Vice vibes lace this pensive arrangement. Somber tones and pads swirl around to create an almost smoothed out ambient/funk 80s inspired track I really would prefer not to stop. It is short and sweet, his restraint is admirable but I could hear this extended into a 5 minute track with a powerful bridge. Forgive me Absinth3, you are at the helm and doing a mighty fine job. I’ll shut up now. Fantastic work.

Enter Dimi Kaye + Absinth3. You may know him as the artist who takes you down retro lane with crafted, addictive melodies on synths. Shreds guitar, and activates driving percussion for powerful and lasting tracks. You may also know him for his epic guitar arrangement that ushered one of the most massive tracks of the year by Volkor X. Regardless, the pairing of minds on the final track of Retropolis is the true chef d’oeuvre. For those who aren’t familiar with the expression, it’s the masterpiece and my favorite track on the album. Kraftwerk laden melodies dot the soundscape and bring in warm and lasting pads that evoke some seriously sweet emotion inside. It builds and raises octaves with more intensity and layering before….yeah you know the Dimi Kaye I mentioned? Guitar bliss and nearly tear inducing, tasteful shredding completes the full package and turns this beauty into among the best retro tracks of the year. Splendid arrangement and all around incredible collaboration between two amazing artists. Well done gentlemen, now Dimi….will you sign my guitar?

Delivering an exceptional release with heart and soul, the wizard known as Absinth3 managed to dazzle and wow the scene with one of the strongest releases of the year. Original and chock full of nostalgic vibes and detail, he went so far above and beyond any expectations and ended up doing what he loves most, making music.

This is a must buy for any lover of all things 80s. It’s a real treat to review this gem, I can’t imagine what the future holds for this musician but it looks bright and very promising. I can tell you first hand, I drank the Absinth3, and I don’t want to come back.

Retropolis is available on Bandcamp here and comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

oDDling Alters Your State Of Mind

By Jerry Herrera

When we talk about synthwave and its siblings, the term “ambient” doesn’t come up all that frequently. There tends to be a clear direction to the music, intended to conjure up images of racing, cruising, chasing and stalking. If I’m being honest, genres like dreamwave and chillwave have a hard time of nailing that truly ambient feel and oftentimes the music only achieves a dream-like state by being boring and sleep inducing.

So can oDDling, a relatively new name on the scene, achieve ambient success with his newest release? I, for one, say hell yes. Altered State of Mind is fascinating to me because it goes against pretty much every rule we’ve come to follow in the genre but still retains the spirit of the music. Throughout the release you’ll find all the right nostalgic synth sounds and basses, but layered and in such a progression that does indeed give one a sense of the music simply existing in a space, but shifting in tone and melody smoothly enough that there is a definite beginning and end to the tracks, but you were too mentally engaged in the synth bliss to notice. A little saddened and the tracks passing, and delighted all over again at the beginning of a new journey.

'Recurring Dream' and 'Ironic Thoughts' are both the perfect introductions to the album and to oDDling in general if, like me, he popped up out of nowhere for you too. Both easy going but melodic and catchy tracks set the mood and temperature and stoke the interest of the listener. 'Altered State' is very ear grabbing, with an odd mix of freestyle/synth funk and 8-bit video game aesthetics, resulting in the aural equivalent of being stoned on a beach and hanging out at the arcade at sunset.

'Ecstasy Crush', 'Contradictive' and 'Control Problem' gave me flashbacks to one of my absolute favorite electronic ambient artists, Autechre, specifically a track called 'Eutow'. I feel warm and fuzzy and buzzy and chill but there are things for me to sink my mental teeth into, to climb on. I’m like a sloth in a tree of synth, ascending and munching at my leisure, but also hanging onto each branch I find interesting.

'Adrenaline' is another exclamation point on Altered State of Mind. Powerful snares and fills, spacy pads, ascending and descending melodies all unite and it feels like I’m throwing bottled lightning against a wall in a dark alley. 'Broken' is the most ambient, literally muted track on the album. It’s hard to describe its melancholy: the rest of the album is the most, and this track is the least. Like having a hangover or being heartbroken, the track cannot muster anything more than a whisper. It’s oddly beautiful.

To end Altered State of Mind is 'Descending', a warm, sunny track full of buzzing basslines, twinkling keys and Bob Ross-esque happy little synths. I felt like my brain was spooning with a beautiful other brain in a hammock. oDDling is ambient in a sense that the tracks on the album create a moment or a scene or a memory, something that lasts but a moment in real time, and stretches that moment out without distorting the image.

I absolutely love Altered State of Mind, and I haven’t reacted this strongly since Abelard’s Meta Valley EP. I can’t say that this album is genre changing or revolutionary, but it definitely is a fresh take on our beloved genre that I hope catches on, and in general an intensely enjoyable experience as a lover of all music.

oDDling presents Altered State of Mind on his Bandcamp page here and it comes very, very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Meteor's Parallel Lives

By Rick Shithouse

In a recent conversation on Synthetix Sundays with my sybling in synth Marko Maric we were discussing the pros and cons of releasing albums and how an album really needs context to hold it together, along with the interest of the listener. And when there isn't this thematic the album can often lose direction and focus, often leaving me, personally, wondering whether it may have worked better split over two or more EPs.

Albums are wonderfully enigmatic entities. An album can capture your imagination and take you on a fantastic journey guided by the music's flow and artistry. The magic making that album work as one over arching concept is something I always find completely enrapturing and for its duration I feel I'm being let into someone elses world and allowed to see and feel their creative soul.

Its funny how a few succinct lines of text can change one's outlook entirely on an album experience and in Meteor's Parallel Lives the preface given literally ties the entire album together. I quote: "This album is a compilation of stories told through songs, each one representing a line, a character with different experiences to others but coexisting in an infinite space, full of human beings with parallel lives." With these words Meteor gives a wonderfully auspicious premise to the music one's about to listen to.

The individual personalities are what separates and at the same time joins the twelve acts of Parallel Lives into an entertaining and illuminating story of lives and emotions of this dimensions inhabitants. Experiences and emotions play out in chapters that are descriptive and full character; all played out against a shared backdrop; unrelated by circumstance but intrinsically linked on a deeper level.

Meteor launches into the grey concrete night with 'Escape The Fate' which really draws broad strokes at illustrating a wider scene before focusing in tightly on the human plight. There's a chasing panic in the canter of the rhythms. An element of intrigue runs through the atmosphere and the smoothly swelling synths mask the rush and energy of the totally rockin guitars. The drama ramps up massively towards the end as the protagonist finds some refuge and a calm returns.

The opening tracks instantly bring a depth to the sound and widen out to a massive vista that Meteor then closes in on for tight shots. I imagine a wide shot of a city at night, with the camera zooming in closer and closer until the individual comes into clear focus and we watch their story unfold before zooming back out again to the wide shot before the next track.

In this respect Meteor gives himself license to deeply explore some concepts in a purely singular way, track by track. Painting in the characters and details with enough dexterity to ensure the listener is never disconnected from the experience. When things start getting super intense on 'Destroyer' Meteor is sure to give the Slash Electro energy just enough current to inflict pain but pulls back to allow the uplifting guitars to bring some beauty back into the picture. The story in this track in particular has an element of danger that seems to lurk around every corner but there always seems to be an escape route that pops up in the nick of time.

The arrangement of the chapters themselves is another strong suit of Parallel Lives as Meteor always makes sure there is differentiation between tracks, be it in intensity, melody or emotion. The cool and placid 'City Lights' is a gorgeous piece of airy synth wonder that's as contemplative as it is captivating. Meteor's use of more traditional 70s prog elements in his guitars and synths lend a rich flavour to the more obviously 80s elements. The combination rocks like nobodies business in nearly all the chapters at one stage or another but it is impossible to deny the raucous retro magic that coalesces in the epic 'Hunter Of Lost Souls'. Using the guitars as the driving force of the track allows the synths to vocalise as delightful accents against the pure bombastic rocktastic riffage.

The titling that Meteor has used is yet another part of the experience that gives the listener just enough of a set up to take in the impending scene. 'She Has A Gun' is a wonderful example of this as a hugely Miami Vice themed passage illustrates the pool side show down under a moonlit night as the protagonist seeks vengeance above the law. But it's the heartfelt synth melodies that bring the haunting loss into the forefront of the story. Rising above the anger and giving a beautifully humanistic hue to the climactic scene.

Meteor's action packed passages are definitely one of his most adept disciplines throughout Parallel Lives. When not opting for all out OutRun chase sequences he deftly manoeuvres into a high energy mode that brings the action on for all comers. 'Defender' even adds just a little ChipTune flavour to the already delicious perilous adventure, giving the track the extra layer of personality and charm.

But it's always the balance and context that rocks the story along. After the intensity of 'Defender' we have 'White Crows' saunter out of the misty streets in a beautifully constructed story that really shows Meteor's aptitude on all his instruments. This is one of the few producers who can make a one man album feel like a complete band experience as the instruments all genuinely attain their own personalities and styles. The depth of the presentation and the details in each passage shine on every layer of the production.

Crafting all these Parallel Lives shows much of Meteor's passion for the musical nostalgia we all crave, but the modern elements are kept in a dutiful balance too. In 'The World I Left Behind' the tearing bass provides just a enough contemporary distinction below the retrolicious synth swell. The balance of the new and old feels just right on all the pieces as Meteor experiments with 70s, 80s and modern techniques without losing the melodic soul of the music.

The final tracks of the album do some wonderful little reprises of some ideas presented in the opening tracks. Like a background character from scene now given their own story after witnessing that original narrative. The familiarity is never too obvious or heavily worn but little pieces of musical continuity draw you even more into Meteor's descriptive little universe. The final track, ironically titled 'Prototype' gives a feeling of completion as an upbeat and enthralling credit roll that hints at even more links between the separate stories.

Meteor presents Parallel Lives on his Bandcamp here and this really is an album that stands up as a true full length experience. I've been taken entirely into Meteor's imaginative world in every track on this record and the structure is so strong that it demands to be listened to as one complete experience. I hope you too find delight in the twists and turns of Parallel Lives as it comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Everything Is Falling Into Place At HOME

By James Mann

Every blue moon an artist comes along and manages to not only captivate, but also stun each listener with melodies and complexities so incredible that calling the effort a true masterpiece doesn’t seem to quite do justice. HOME has managed to do the unthinkable. Pulling out all stops in his latest full length Falling Into Place, and taking the listener through a surreal and cosmic journey in sound; ranging from heartfelt and emotive pieces, to cinematic and tear inducing tracks that seem to make time freeze, to the lounge-iest of funk and beyond with his signature lo-fi elegance.

HOME saturates the speakers with pure warmth and love in this delightful and influential full length release. The array of sounds showcase the most mature and diverse work to date that we’ve heard from this Florida native. The innate ear of this musician and how he approaches each track is truly amazing. Well placed notes and layers create a unique blend of Tyco-esque ambience, Com Truise confidence, and Emil Rottmayer dreamscapes, but the best part is that the thoughtful songs resonate with originality and a stamp of the HOME sound. He manages to create sounds that never pander to the listener, but tastefully divide touches in a variety of genres that come together for music that’s just damn sweet and thoroughly enjoyable.

One thing I would like to preface before moving forward is to note the usage of HOME’s synthesizers and percussion. He jumps into completely signature and unique sounding pads and leads implemented in such ways that separate him from all other artists. From custom tape recordings, extreme reverb, lo-fi goodness and a delicate balance of analog and digital sounds, he captures the ear with a clever usage of melodies and arrangements. I sincerely appreciate he isn’t afraid to accent these synths with effects and sounds that fall far outside the box of “normal.” His percussion is ornate, detailed, and um, huge. Monumental kicks and claps slice through each track with precision and accuracy, culminating in an experience that can only be delivered by him.

In compositions such as 'Head First', we hear a more indie side of HOME, delving into a sweet, recycled melody that layers and creates a confident, pulsating arrangement guaranteed to satiate any listener. The guitar work adds to the blend of beauty and mesmerizing layers that demonstrate talent and finesse. Striking a balance between simple and complex, everything seems to fit just right in this beauty. This opener is massive, and a more than fitting indicator for the rest of the album.

Switching gears, in pieces like 'Flashlight' we are treated to more colorful and playful arrangements that give way to a powerhouse of sounds. His signature and powerful bass, kick and claps form to steer this in a surprising direction with emotive, somber, yet joyful combinations of melodies and layers, stamping the pad as one of my favorites. Having music enable you to smile and replay the track through and through is such a rarity, it’s like finding a four leaf clover in a sea of unmemorable ones.

In cosmic and bright arrangements like 'Bright Lights In Silent Rooms', HOME takes us on a trip through a land of sultry funk, evoking a feel of MGMT but yet again entirely unique. A rolling bass and 4/4 beat accompany Kyoto like synths and a Sytarian vibe, blending together for a dance floor experience I’m craving in a live set pulsating with energy and lights. Gathering momentum for groove oriented vibes is his specialty, and once again the superb production value and dynamic range of synthesizers and percussion deliver the best in retro and future moods.

I love the sophistication 'Falling Head First' brings. There’s no trial and error with HOME tracks, each one delivers a special, personalized package of unmistakably feel good vibes. He has successfully managed to blow minds with this stellar release, to be completely honest it’s been on repeat for several weeks now. (And that’s a rarity for any artist in my rotating playlist). Since he’s been officially backed by Tyco himself and his song 'Resonance' took the Interwebz by storm garnering millions of plays, it’s only a matter of time before he hits, big. I’ve also heard rumors of a live show?

Please do yourself a favor and get my favourite release of the year thus far. It’s available on HOME's Bandcamp page here and is listed for $1, but upon first listen I can guarantee you will feel compelled to give a bit more. The album is absolutely a Synthetx Reference Experience, the highest honor given to an exceptional work of art. Well done HOME. Oh and a warning for those who do procure this bit of gold, the tracks are HIGHLY addictive.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Synth Erotica

Robovixens from 1988 (or Batteries Included) is a delightfully tawdry piece of cash-in smut riding off the popularity of 'Robo' movies in general. The premise is pure science friction as a team of robovixens with "endless sexual stamina" go out to please the many man currently unsatisfied with their love lives.

The presentation is pure sleaze VHS charm as the shot on video scenes illicit all manner of sensual visions. Like many of this ilk, however, those wishing to see visual effects of any description (besides the odd colour filter) in this popular style of skinflick will come away rather disappointed. Leave it to the clever writing to make sure all shots that would require any kind of effects budget happen off-screen and we're left with some stunning pornogirlies of the day doing their best robot impressions; which is no less entertaining, mind.

The soundtrack though is the other star of Robovixens as deep thrusting percussion writhes in time with the filthiest of synth grooves. While Stephanie Rage gyrates her sinful little body to the delight of Scott Irish and Micky Ray, Brandy Wine looks on with great amusement. The purely sexual soundtrack instantly makes one realise that Robovixens entertains on a whole other level as your imagination and longing becomes wholly transfixed by the grindingly glorious Synth Erotica.

Robovixens 1988 Scene 1 from Rick Shithouse on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Valkyrie 1984 & Kirk Gadget - Ghost in the Machine: Episode II

By Michael CA L

It's hard to believe that so much of what we've read in science-fiction literature and film has become reality, but it truly has. Yeah, the flying cars, time-travel and terraforming end of the sci-fi spectrum may still seem incredibly far from where we are, or even implausible or downright absurd, such as what we all saw depicted as "The Future", as explored in material such as the Jetsons, Flash Gordon, Star Trek and other genre-related classics. But I believe now that outright dismissals and head-shakery towards these dated sci-fi tokens is a result of the style, delivery, and trends of the times in which they were produced rather than the concepts themselves.

I find myself smirking less an less these days when reading or watching something involving speculations as to where we, the human race, are headed with all of our increasingly complex scientific knowledge and technological hardware. However implausible "The Future" may have seemed as presented in old-timey sci-fi, plenty of what was dreamt by the prophets and seers of yesterday has become very possible aspects of tomorrow's world. Advancements in nano-tech, prosthetics, the development of A.I., and the chemical, genetic and hardware-centered augmentation of the human body are currently with us and advancing with each passing day, and while the age of trans and post-humanism is still in its infancy, there's no denying that its here with us now and gaining considerable momentum with each new thrust of scientific innovation.

With that being said, one of the literary and cinematic genres which has most deftly predicted and acutely scrutinized the directions in which we currently find ourselves moving is cyberpunk. With an often brutal rawness and unfiltered look at the rough edges of humanity, cyberpunk has held a dark mirror up to our societies and civilizations and reflected back to us an image that may sometimes be dirty or unpleasing to the delicate eyes of the nostalgically-inclined, but one that most certainly demands our attention (if we're not playing the role of ostriches with our heads in the sand, that is), because the worlds predicted by such prophets as William Gibson, Ridley Scott, Bruce Sterling and Masamune Shirow are quite possibly the most accurate predictions of our future world that we have available to us.

Which brings me, finally, to another media spectrum beyond that of film and literature that has embraced the concepts and ideas contained within the cyberpunk genre and explored them in its own way. I speak of music, of course, and in this particular case, the music of synthwave mainstays Valkyrie 1984 (AKA Jay Salazar) and Kirk Gadget (AKA Kyle Sims) who with their newest volume of the Ghost in the Machine saga, have put together a collection of cyberpunk-centered music that encompasses many of the same speculations and scenarios as the aforementioned visionaries, but uniquely address these concepts through sound alone instead of through visual or literary mediums.

With the essence of the music most closely zeroed in on retro-futuristic electronic sound that is both lost in a decade just behind our clearest memories and at the same time posited just beyond the next horizon, the duo take their finely-honed production and composition skills to a place where high-tech sounds of the contemporary digital age couple seamlessly with the grim, reality-blurring and post-human-centered cyberpunk aesthetic of 80's and 90's cyberpunk. To quote Jay Salazar, "the over-arching theme of the album [relates to] Ghost in the Shell" with its "concept of the cohesive amalgamation between human and machine," and this is readily apparent to all those who are familiar with the concepts and aesthetic of that legendary cyberpunk milestone.

From the artwork Jay and Kyle have used to represent their work (a still of GS protagonist Motoko Kusanagi, who is a vehicle through which the GS creators explore the increasingly ambiguous definition of what it is to be human), to the various samples from the Ghost in the Shell anime (as well as other iconic cyberpunk media), to the machine-like, blood-and-fuel-injected, synthetic-yet-organic sounds used throughout the album, Ghost in the Machine Episode II is a work that pulses with cyberpunk contextuality. And like all the best works within the genre, it's a complex exploration of the tenuous relationship between humans and machines with a focal point that rests both on the clean lines of the machine as well as on the beautifully fallible and fragile rough edges of humanity. And again, like the very best cyberpunk, it doesn't just show us a scenario to appreciate on a surface-based level, but encourages us to go deeper; to redefine our notions of what it is to be human and where to draw the increasingly murky line that separates the so-called autonomous from the perceived automaton.

As Rick Deckard famously stated in the cyberpunk masterwork Blade Runner, "Replicants are like any other machine - they're either a benefit or a hazard." Deckard's simplistic point of view which utterly dehumanizes the machine and draws a clear line between the artificial and natural, is famously shattered beyond recognition by the film's conclusion, and this same sentiment of ambiguity is very much a part of the Ghost in the Machine Episode II listening experience. Tracks such as Valkyrie 1984's 'Arise (feat. Galfire)' and Kirk Gadget's 'Vanish (Epilogue)' brood with a human resonance that bring the listener close to the heart of the debate of whether the new world of machines is a benefit or a hazard. There's a warmth to these compositions that makes one yearn for a world in which emotional responses direct action and machines are simply devices through which human contact is facilitated.

Tracks such as Kirk Gadget's 'CONTROL' and Valkyrie 1984's 'Stand Alone Complex', however, are experiments in sound-organization that are delivered with precision, programmed with a razor-sharp focus of intent, and hammered home with control and complexity. They're the kind of elegant musical exercises that inspire thoughts of a near-future where the definition of a human being that is lacking technological augmentation is a definition that invariably includes adjectives such as "imprecise", "deficient" or "fragile." Other tracks, such as Valkyrie 1984's 'RE Embody (Prologue)' and Kirk Gadget's 'Synthetic Hearts (In the City Mix)' strike a balance between the two worlds, where both humans and their technological creations work together in tandem to produce something that is more pure than what either could create standing alone.

By putting together an album that contains one part Valkyrie 1984 and one part Kirk Gadget (with songs by both artists being spliced together and interlinked in a manner that defies an A/B/A/B, separated, half-and-half schematic), Jay and Kyle enable their individual offerings to intermingle and coalesce in a way that is utterly refreshing. We the listeners aren't presented with the typical one-two offering that is standard among split releases. There is no neat separation or dividing line by which each artist is given a half-hour to show and tell. Instead, the songs are tracklisted in a way that tells a single story from the variable, non-patterned point of view of two separate individuals, both with a vested interest in telling the tale with vivid description, but both doing so from different standpoints and through different eyes, minds and technological means.

I had the pleasure of conversing with both Kyle and Jay as I was writing this review, and Kyle sums it up neatly by describing the method as such: "I dug the idea of both of our characters combining forces and I think our styles worked really well to paint a picture of a corrupt neo-Tokyo future city controlled by evil corporations. We both have very different styles and we felt like that meshed well. So....we decided to make a [release] out of it, taking it a step further, and adding a story to our songs." When asked to elaborate on the overall vision, Jay had this to say: "We just tried to make a high-energy record that could be an imaginary soundtrack for a dark and romantic science-fiction story [through] hardcore synthwave/outrun."

The two succeeded with rocket-propelled colours, as the album provides the listener with a diversity of sounds, rhythms, tempos and conceptual exploration that engages on a level that is truly staggering. The unique partnership began when Kyle and Jay met through online networks and decided to work together, resulting in a collaborative track called 'Midnight Killer', which was heard as a bonus track on the first Ghost in the Machine album, released in January of 2015. With both parties sharing an enthusiasm for retro-inspired music but learning plenty from each other in terms of production as well as cyberpunk and science fiction concepts, they struck a chord that was strong enough to produce a fantastic first volume of music (Ghost in the Machine Episode I) and carry on towards the creation of this new second volume, which maintains the compelling thematic focus of the first but takes their vision of cyberpunk to bold new places as well.

As Kyle describes, "both [releases] take place in a dystopian, neo-Tokyoesque kind of city, so we tried to shape the sound to that effect". The effect is powerful, and the listener is presented with a aural storyboard that moves from zone to zone, sector to sector, and scene to scene with a fierce momentum that is at once broadly detailed and at the same time singular in its suggestion that the future is a shining expression of humanity's technological aptitude - for better or worse. And as the mind's eye constructs images to suit the powerful sounds that are presented by this complex and unique album, thoughts that transcend the ordinary and the organic are virtually inescapable. When listening to Ghost in the Machine: Episode II, it's like a new program has been introduced to the mind through the ears. It's as if there were a machine installed within the ghost - or vice versa, of course. And in essence, it's a listening experience that is jarring, multifaceted, highly dynamic, and very well worth experiencing. Unless you'd rather play the role of the nostalgically-inclined ostrich with your head in the sand, that is.

Valkyrie 1984 and Kirk Gadget - Ghost in the Machine Episode II comes very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM and is available for download here on Valkyrie 1984's Bandcamp.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Synthetix Sundays

Marko's back and rockin to the max with another episode of Synthetix Sundays, only on Radio Pure Gently!

This week's episode finds Marko interviewing Without You, I'm Hunting Them and also De Lorra!

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

Marko will have a bunch of giveaways and will playing all the hottest tracks from the last week cause you know damned well know he's going to rock you all the right ways!

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 and featured Quality Time With Shithouse tracks will be posted here on Monday.

Also, as an extra announcement Dan Ex-Machina Kenyon is raising money for Pulmonary Fibrosis after recently losing his Grandmother to it. He and his brother are looking for support and all the details are available on their Just Giving page here.  If you provide your full name and the word SYNTHETIX in the comments of your donation Dan will message you a free download code for his killer Trans Human record.

If Dan receives over 20 donations from Synthetix.FM members/fans,  he'll randomly pick someone to receive a free Ex-Machina t-shirt also, and will do so for every 20 donations thereafter until the fundraiser ends.

Synthetix.FM wishes Dan and Stu all the best with this fundraising project and hopes all you rockers will do what you can to help.

Quality Time With Shithouse Feature Tracks:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

LA Dreams Runs The Marathon

By Jerry Herrera

LA Dreams has been around since the first days of the synth/retro revival, one of the first artists to climb out of that formative primordial ooze. LA Dreams knows how to craft the ‘80s sound just right after all this time, and has contributed greatly to the overall feel and look of the scene as it stands today. I suppose one could step back and observe, having already released a substantial catalog of music and left their indelible mark. Thankfully this is not the case for LA Dreams and he is consistently giving us great tunes.

The latest release by LA Dreams is titled Marathon. Clocking in at eight tracks, it’s a study in proper form and function when it comes to retro synth vibes. Rather than bloat the article with a track by track rundown, I’d like to point out a few highlights from Marathon.

'Of My Dreams' is an exemplary OutRun track that has everything we crave. Properly upbeat snares, with dramatic toms hitting at just the right moment, acting as a gear shifter for the track. Piano keys chase chase the bassline playfully while a simple but memorable melody drives the song forward. Too often producers will try to make their track the star of the show, in whatever experience you’re having with it. 'Of My Dreams' just asks that you play it while on that particularly curvy stretch of road and perhaps have the window down while listening. It’s pitch perfect.

I am a sucker for good saxophone solos, so 'Lush' gets a mention. It’s yet another gently charming OutRun track with a catchy melody but it closes out with sensual elegance. While I enjoyed the first three tracks of Marathon immensely, 'Entangled Road' really grabbed my attention and engaged me in a way the previous songs did not. It’s light and airy but with an R&B/freestyle flair. Big kicks and fat snare/clap combos stand in front of me while warm pads and sparse melodies float off to the sides like synth wings. If the first few tracks had me cruising a beachside highway, 'Entangled Road' had me hang gliding between the buildings of a towering metropolis at night.

'We Were Only 18' could be considered Marathon’s love theme and it delivers in all aspects. Glittering synths that change gradually like soft colored lights on a prom night dancefloor, slow snares and a wistful bassline all come together at a perfect point and I couldn’t help but see a slideshow of teenage moments in my head. It isn’t overly complex or overdone, but again the track is not the star of the show, merely a facilitator of nostalgia. The same reasons I fell in love with 'Entangled Road' come back in Marathon’s final track, 'Never Enough'. Powerful kicks and snares over several different but vibrant melodies take me far out into the ocean, and bring me back to shore at sunset.

Marathon honestly isn’t about pushing the envelope or redefining the genre or bashing you over the head with synth sorcery. It’s an apt homage at all times, existing in the same realm as music actually composed in the ‘80s. It’s a journey of emotion and nostalgia, complimenting fond memories or adding a little retro flair to new experiences. LA Dreams continues to make music that is the definition of synthwave with modesty and hard work and Marathon is another great release among so many others.

LA Dreams presents Marathon on his Bandcamp page here in the usual array of digitallly downloadable formats and is very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Synthetix Sundays

Synthetix Sundays is back with another synthtastic show only on Radio Pure Gently!

This week Marko will be chatting the enigma known to many synthwave fans only as Mr Tengu and Marko will also be interviewing D.I.M.H. in which D.I.M.H. has some big news to reveal!

The regular segments with Paul Daly, Synthetix Spotlight and of course Quality Time With Shithouse are all programmed for maximum excitement and an exclusive track from the one and only Who Ha will be premiered!

Marko's also got a hot batch of download codes and giveaways for the following releases:
OGRE - Calico Noir
Mythical Vigilante - The LP
D.I.M.H. - No Hit Singles
Rogue Six - After the Fall

If this wasn't enough love to share Marko has ONE free tape to give away of the superlative Synth Love Affair Vol 1 compilation, free shipping included!!

All this along with all the most rockin tunes in the 80s inspired synth scene is here to rock you like a melonfarmer!!

Tune in to Synthetix Sundays LIVE on Radio Pure Gently here, at 11pm Perth, Australia time. Please click here to find out when this is in your part of the world. As always the fully downloadable show and featured Quality Time With Shithouse tracks will be posted here on Monday.

Quality Time With Shithouse Feature Tracks:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The LP Of Mythical Vigilante

By James Mann

Mythical Vigilante tore through the scene last year with his powerful and lasting EP, Time Traveller, full of rich and gorgeous compositions showcasing some of the finest talents in songwriting. It was evident this Seattle based producer is no stranger to music, and continually evolves and strives to achieve different moods in each of his pieces and releases. The signature melodies and driving arrangements caught most synth enthused listeners by surprise, and immediately carved a name as one of the more proficient artists gracing the retrowave scene.

Working diligently with a variety of other artists for collaborations and remixes, coupled as a graphic designer, Thomas Hutcherson seems to have mastered his craft when it comes to designing or composing. His latest release demonstrates the range of growth and movement towards an even higher level of proficiency I am now keenly aware of. The LP, Mythical’s latest self release continues to grace us with his energetic and emotional compositions, focusing on driving beats with complex and heartfelt melodies, while taking the foray into moods and genres we hadn’t experienced from the sonic producer in the past.

'Light Riding' opens up the Vigilante gates with a complex and moody arrangement. Alternating between downtempo and a breakbeat/synthwave beat, the percussion and driving bass take the listener through roomy and thoughtful sounds. Almost sci-fi in it’s approach, the dynamics change throughout to offer a thoroughly enjoyable groove that builds on anticipation and surprise. Detailed synth work and a confident wall of sound rocks the listener and grabs your attention. Solid track, although a bit of a sudden ending. MV is off to the races with pure, raw and emotive work.

'Human Girl' delves into the world of minimal disco, triggering a Simian Mobile Disco-esque dance party crafted with the utmost care and eliciting a wide smile on my face within seconds. Minimal, heavy and pulsating bass carries through a swelling of synthesizers to culminate in a truly enjoyable piece. The lead synth reflects on some early Gary Numan and takes me back to the era of New Wave, smoke and neon lights. I really love this one. Mythical steps outside the box, toms dance across the arrangement and it all comes together for one of my favorite tracks on the album. Once again his proficiency in dynamics and uncharted territory seems so comfortable to this producer, and the sounds back this assertion quite well.

Mythical Vigilante joins forces with the mega talented producer Dream Fiend, master of lush compositions with impeccable production value. 'The Rescue' is a journey into everything 80s. A lo-fi intro of brass horns and retro moodiness give way to a spectacular breakbeat, gathering momentum with light arpeggiated synths and monumental brass pads. It joins forces with an incredible feel of confidence and joy. A vocoder fills in, carrying an ominous but at the same time accessible feel that accents the track quite well. A detailed synth solo dances through the speakers. Fantastic track and collaboration. The thought and effort put into this one did not go unnoticed. Strong and confident, I can hear this played across a wide platform of listeners since the appeal is that broad.

'Be Yourself' immediately grabs my senses with an infectious bass and drum line, I’m transported back in time with visions of a packed dance floor and light fractals steering me towards the light. Moody and delightful, this track stylizes the unique and addicting sounds of OMD (Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark for non-80s aficionados) and other artists around the time whose focus was to get you swaying and gyrating through the crowds of people in pure bliss. Catchy melodies layer to create a real work of art. This is the side of Mythical I dig the most. Unapologetic and heartfelt, he digs into personal space and emerges with an impeccable track that is so refreshing and pleasing to hear. Without a doubt my favorite on the album. I could listen on repeat all day and not tire, which says quite a bit about its impression and execution!

'Sunset Strip' is originally a track by the Canadian powerhouse 20Six Hundred. MV remixes this gem and lays his signature touches and in the process weaves a memorable and pleasant path of pure groove and love from start to finish. A sultry saxophone emerges through the bass and breakbeat, dancing around shimmering synths to create a track that’s nothing short of epic. Oh, and a guitar laces the latter part with heartfelt shredding? All of the layers come together for a huge sound, toms cutting through with precision and intent. One of my favorites on the album. This one is huge!

'Watch Out For the Bad Guys' takes you into the dark, subterranean world of the Vigilante. Pounding bass and drums with an accompanying vocoder build a dark, intense vibe swirling with atmospheric synths. This is the Mythical I remember hearing, signature intensity and vocoder which stamps a high quality and sweet production piece. I like the mood in this particular one, it follows 'Sunset Strip' nicely for that instant clarification and reminder that variety is in fact a huge asset to this artist. He cannot be defined by any sound, which works extremely well for him.

'Darkness Awaits' is simply a massive track. Originally a Stilz piece, Mythical took this beauty to another level. Pulsating, punchy drums and bass build for a head bobbing affinity that stays throughout the piece. Arpeggiated and crafted hi-hats compliment each other and remind me of a soundtrack oriented arrangement. Sweet and enjoyable, it’s evident that Mythical’s remixes are in fact his strong suit, and bring fresh and pleasing elements to already wonderful songs.

'Master Blaster' is the product of a powerhouse collaboration between MV and the one and only Kirk Gadget. Cinematic and driving, the melodies and progression in this are incredibly strong. Striking a balance between somber and action packed, lasers and arpeggiated bass lines attack the soundscape for a full range of energy and sound that make this a standout in it’s own right. Combining the best of two artists can be an amazing thing, and these two pulled it off effortlessly. The sounds go so well together and create one of the more massive tracks on The LP.

'Re -Animated' plays off as a nice vignette, crafted extraordinarily well with finesse and detail. Dark and driving with a smattering of glass synths create a really great vibe and track. For being such a short piece, it all pulls together quite well for a momentum that retains the drive that is so well executed in Mythical Vigilante tracks. I really do enjoy this one, my only wish is that it was extended just a bit more.

'The Mind Manipulator’s Murder Disco' is an incredible arrangement, navigating the listener through sections both dark and mesmerizing. Eerie, echo styled samples kick off the beginning over a lethargic beat. Immediately I’m intrigued, as the beat gains speed and momentum the track comes into full force with dynamic changes reminiscent of a space synth opera. A really interesting and fun tune, the bass line and synth arrangements race through scales to grab you as the piece advances to another section. Some of Mythical’s finest work lies in here. Thoughtful piano playing that brings a more organic sense of his work is evident. I think this is perhaps the strongest piece on the album. The epic chord progressions really take this one on another level, potentially a dance floor electronic release.

The LP is truly an incredible addition to anyone’s personal collection. Part of why it’s refreshing on so many levels, is simply because Mythical Vigilante manages to accomplish what other artists strive to do but encounter some difficulty in the process. Execute pieces that entail a wide variety of sounds, influences, and genres while maintaining a cohesive and commanding flow. From New Wave, to orchestrated and cinematic, to down tempo arrangements, I found all of these and more tucked away in this monster of a release with superb production value. He continues to move forward each day in his art and music, demonstrating an innate talent that is undeniable. I genuinely look forward to see what this producer comes up with for his next run, although I’m in no rush. This one is fantastic.

The LP can be purchased on Bandcamp here in the usual array of digitally downloadable formats  and comes very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Objet D'Rad

By Rick Shithouse

Welcome to the first edition of Objet D'Rad, a new monthly feature on Synthetix.FM that will focus on specific design icons of the 80s. First off I'd like to thank Tim Waves for helping out getting our header graphic rockin. You can find more of Tim's wonderful 80s inspired work on his site here.

On with our first edition of Objet D'Rad! For this first post I really wanted to cover one of my absolute favourite pieces of iconic 80s design, something that spoke to me directly when I first laid eyes upon it and just had to own them. This Objet D'Rad in particular is Sharp's WN-30 Sparky Calculator.

Manufactured in 1987 as a part of Sharp's 'Humanware' line the WN-30 calculator is about as iconically 80s in design as anything could possibly get. The Humanware line from Sharp was all about adding colour, personality and high end design to commonly used home electrical and electronic items. We'll be revisiting this range again in the future, but the WN-30 marks a massively high water mark in concept and delivery of re-inventing a commonplace item into something more akin to an art piece.

For context, one must remember, that in 1987 there were no smartphones or home internet or anything like what we have electronically at our disposal today. The calculator was a common and oft used part of every day life at work and school and up to this point (aside from the Casio Film Card line) the calculator was purely functional for functions sake and wasn't seen as an item of beauty in any respect.

The Sparky was an ingenious design that functioned as well as it looked. The diagonal sliding cover not only worked in an exceedingly futuristic manner but also protected the display and solar cells from being damaged. This also reduced the size of the calculator to a small 7cm square when not in use. The buttons are also slightly rounded to prevent them catching on anything.

Original Japanese Print Ad for the WN-30 Line.

The more time one spends surveying the WN-30 the more one notices subtle design choices that tie the whole piece together. The slightly different shade given to the 'On/Clear' button, the use of a geometrically angled font for all the numbers, the way the more vibrant colours are hidden beneath the sliding outer shell. 

Even the intricately fine angled patten that surrounds the display, everything just drips of high end and refined design aesthetics. This didn't go unnoticed either, as the Sparky was featured in the 1987-88 edition of the International Design Yearbook (pictured right), along with numerous other pieces from Sharp's Humanware line.

The sheer elegance of the 80s aesthetic is captured flawlessly in the WN-30 Solar Cell Calculator from Sharp. This is a real hallmark of art design in mainstream electronics from the 80s that remains unsurpassed. The time when major electronics companies took risks on avant garde designs has long past now, but we'll always have these wonderful motifs as reminders of why the 80s was such a visually exciting and ground breaking decade.