Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Synthetix Telegenic

By James Mann

It’s a synth driven world. One with a never ending stash of electrified, pulsing and well…impressive material. Artists in recent years have pounced on the opportunity to recreate the best in 1980s song compositions; structuring sounds, scores, ballads, duets and overall giving praise to the emotive powerhouse of the decade that is the 80s. These results are nothing short of spectacular.

From synthpop, dreamwave, chillwave and beyond; the dynamic range and momentum is astoundingly real, and so is the pace in the current retrowave movement. With each click, visions of a more colorful nightlife, choice in clothing, products, consumerism and attitude with daringly perfect hair come to life through our speakers with tact and execution.

Like a dancer gracing her way across the floor as that Linndrum kick hits in 4/4 timing, splendor, determination and pure happiness fill the room. But what good is a dancer without her partner? To have such a wealth of rich tunes to offer, there’s just one thing that can compliment the beauty in these works of art. That’s where Synthetix Telegenic comes in.

Determined to dance across floors worldwide, accompanying the music with the best in visual display, Synthetix Telegenic brings the best in 80s retro inspired videos. From fan made pieces to high end productions, the bar is continually raised not just for music in the scene, but also the daring accomplishments of these editors and production specialists who seem to notch up their techniques and visions with every release. With the pairing of music and video, the music comes to life for the ultimate experience, and the viewer is left with a lasting and stunning reminder of how well two can make a memorable dance.

#5. (Glitch Black) Glitch Black - “Badlands Escape Pod”

Glitch Black tears through Tokyo streets with a full on assault for the senses in this custom video for “Badlands Escape Pod.” Immediately the driving tour de force introduces a custom logo created by an artist who not only makes some of the best dark retro-synth inspired tunes out there, but also has a huge talent for graphic design and custom animation. Huge points right there. The high energy track takes the listener down a sonic world of wonder and mystery.

A pulsating beat frenetically hits while splendidly in tandem with dancing claps, massive synth leads, anthemic pads and the stunning visuals of the 1989 anime classic, Angel Cop. Scenes of motorcycles tearing through Tokyo highways engaged in combat not only compliments this arrangement, but also elevates the song’s strengths and animation ten fold. “I enjoy producing faster paced tracks, so I think that lends many of my songs to working well with action scenes. And since there seem to be lots of action anime films with a cyberpunk edge to them, I probably won't have much trouble pairing other movies to my songs in the future if I decide to make more,” Glitch tells Synthetix Telegenic. Smart move Glitch.

With each twist and turn of the motorcycles, the attacking percussive elements and the beautiful intense laden synthphonies, the energy feeds off the driving arrangement to create a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable experience. Glitch Black pulls out all of the stops in “Badlands Escape Pod.” Exceptional work here.

#4 (Neros77) Level - 1 “Iron to Lust”

For anyone who has either grazed or fully immersed themselves in the synth scene, Neros77 has undoubtedly become a household word. He is by most accounts (if not all) the benchmark of video standards when it comes to editing, pushing the boundaries stylistically, thematically and musically with each of his exceptionally crafted works of art. His ability to weave intricate edits with a host of pre-production work coupled with themes surrounding his found footage couldn’t be any more delightful. Stories are told. Magic is made. A lifetime of memories and beauty unfolds with each Neros77 premier, with a standard that is of the highest caliber. As summer approaches, Neros77 reminds us how sexy and sensuous the 80s could be. With Level -1’s “Iron to Lust”, the master of all things video takes us on a sultry journey through a well thought out edit of 80s commercials found through YouTube, minus the clothes.

The track itself is wonderful. A thick kick and snare crack to begin a tour de force in sound. An arpeggiated bass line and an intense synth lead layers to combine an arrangement so pleasing, and to accompany this track are the undulating and writhing bodies of men and women splayed out in pure 80s fashion. “I didn't know how it would end I just worked on it day by day and had fun. I know they (Level - 1) might have wanted some more cyberpunk-ish footage, but I like to make something that isn't all that normal if you know what I mean. I also know it was a bit more daring but as a music video maker we sometimes need to go for the edge of things and shock people but in a good way and with a smile.” says Neros77.

The edits are intense, determined and highly sexual. The buzzing energy of the track with your eyes darting in all unclothed directions leads to an R-rated Neros77 affair. But, then again these were in fact pulled from commercials that ran on prime time television throughout our favorite decade. Innocent right? From soap to phones and even braziers, I forgot just how racy and sexual those sweet 80s commercials were! The song winds down and builds back up for a truly beautiful explosion of the finest synths and curves, a unparalleled combination. Spectacular work from the “King of Videos.” Once again, Neros77 has done it again, but this time he has teased and tantalized our senses to the edge while managing to deliver on all fronts. How is that even possible? Of course, it’s Neros77. Now where’s that towel?

#3 Irving Force - “The Violence Supressor”

Irving Force has taken creative control and delivered something that is astounding, a full on visual masterpiece to accompany his track “Violence Suppressor”. Through his blend of determined and punishing synthwave, tinged with cyberpunk edges, this renegade brings to us a top quality, triumphant and bloody saga; produced, written, scored, and directed by Irving Force himself. The track takes us to 2015, where the world has been taken over by rogue gangs who thrive off torture, pillaging and rule by fear. Crooked politicians hold office, and civilization has never been in such dire straights. The opening scenes of the video immediately captivate. The digital world coupled with the lighting, sequencing and music confirm that this is going to be quite the ride. We meet out hero Force who is driving through the streets listening to the Crime Scanner. He is picking up radio traffic of gangs (through his Commodore tape player no less) murdering, attacking and antagonizing citizens. Let me remind you these scenes are hyper real and depict very strong violence.

The level of production is incredible, so for those uncomfortable with such subject matter, heck…keep watching. Force unleashes his arsenal of not just guns but suaveness onto these criminals, engaging in bloody battle where our victor claims the throne and restores order. Not before delivering memorable and righteous monolog bits reminiscent of Kung Fury, to make our savior that much more appealing. Through his shades and trademarked long beard, the Force’s screen presence is overtly strong. His enemies fall and lie in a bloody heap. The quality of storytelling, edits, and special effects makes you wonder how this video didn’t get picked up and released through a huge video production collective or company. It’s seriously that good. I actually enjoy the details and edits in this as compared to Kung Fury. Obviously this production was a labor of love which I can’t imagine took any less than months to make.

Coming straight out of left field and through the screen in hyperdrive, this blazing track and video compliments a pulsating piece of work that not only showcases the proficiency of this incredible artist, but also one who has innumerable talents that involve other types of production including sound design. Do yourself a favor and save this one. It’s without a doubt one of the greatest retrowave productions I have ever seen. It’s nice to know The Force is right around the corner to back me up when I need him.

#2 Perturbator “Sentient (f. Haley Stewart)”

Perturbator stuns us with one of his most memorable and emotional tracks to date, “Sentient,” which features Haley Stewart from Dead Astronauts. The pairing makes for a momentous occasion, as the duo works seamlessly to take the listener through a ballad full of darkness, thought, wonder, and sadness. The dark and paced out beat is enveloped with spacious and haunting vocals, coupled with a cyber world filled with tastefully selected synthesizers. Fortunately for us, Perturbator decided to make a video paired with an artist who is quickly gaining the recognition of making the best in pixel based animation.

Full of detail, thought, and ground breaking edits, enter Valenberg. (The master behind Gunship productions) The video begins on a stormy night, where our heroine stands motionless represented with the finest in pixel perfection. She seems captivated, beckoned by the call of The Benevolent Church through her empty eyes. She is on a mission. The world has been overrun by androids who are threatening the safety of the entire population. She drives through the rain soaked streets while the glorious, symphonic track weaves through the edits. Valenberg manages to capture such incredible beauty through his scenes. I have never seen anything like this before. As pixel art is known for being relatively flat and two dimensional, Valenberg crushes all notions of the past with his expertise. Flawlessly detailed scenes give the viewer a real sense of depth and feeling through a craft that I imagine was painstakingly thorough and extensive to build from scratch. It’s more than evident and the result is glorious.

Our hero reaches her destination, gun in hand set to destroy the android producing factory full of seduction and sin. Her mission is derailed, as she is captivated by the environment. Full of darkness and sex, she succumbs to the rush of the androids. After the sexiest pixel scene of intercourse (did I just say that?), she is sliced with a scalpel to reveal her true identity. She is now an android. The power of appeal, seduction and promise has taken over and our once determined heroine is now part of the android masses. Sublime work from both Perturbator and Velenberg. This is a pairing for the ages. The story is told with depth, and is without reservation one of the finest visual treats I’ve ever seen. The emotion and intensity is unapologetically honest, and we couldn’t ask for more.

#1 Carpenter Brut - “Turbo Killer”

I will admit, it’s challenging to think about how to approach discussing this video from Carpenter Brut. Primarily through the notion that my words would not do this pinnacle in video making achievement justice. So I’ll start a bit about the music. Synth lovers have come to admire and behold the intensity in which Carpenter Brut approaches his music. The wonderful thing about this artist is he is able to inject thoughtful melodies, arrangements and synthesizers detailing feeling and emotion over his beds of grit and storm. Orchestral, cinematic and powerful; each song has it’s own personality while maintaining unmistakable cohesion. What a fine balance and ability to possess, apart from impeccable and impressive production value. “Turbo Killer” is no exception.

The track is a stunner, driving the beats per minute along with your heart rate as the piece elevates you to a state of pure bliss. Now the video. I’ll admit when I first saw “Turbo Killer” I was dazed. After experiencing the breathtaking visuals and special effects (which parallel productions seen only the big screen), I had to gather my thoughts and pinch myself to see if this was actually real or just a dream. Director Seth Ickerman proves this is no dream, and that we are witness to the most exceptional video ever created in the retrowave scene. (I am doubtful I will ever be able to state this in again in the future.) We are introduced to a surreal environment in space, where a floating cross bound towards earth houses Turbo Killer and his muse. Together they are introduced through other worldly visuals, production worthy of Hollywood special effects. Donning a cloak with yellow eyes, we see what is presumed to be Turbo Killer.

Far away, a scared and cowering woman is housed in an electrified triangle, surrounded by a bevy of cars and a man enthralled with her captivity. Turbo Killer and the queen join hands and the then scared woman is transformed into a writing, sexually charged figure. She teases, dances, and tantalizes while the driving music of Brut accentuates each bounce and turn of her waist, chest and head. Toggling between her moves is Turbo Killer, zipping through a fantasy land and racing towards her. The visuals are unbelievable. It’s over the top in the best way imaginable. The intensity and electricity of the pairing of images and music is nearly overwhelming. Quick edits and pristine shot choices keep the momentum unlike any video seen before.

As Turbo Killer approaches he is confronted by the man, who has now falling for the damsel. Shotgun in hand, the mysterious stranger fires the trigger towards the speeding car. But Turbo is quick. He propels his vehicle in the air and right through the triangle, taking with him the woman. A chase ensues with breakneck frenzy, and the man (in addition to the other cars now in pursuit) fly off a cliff into the waiting maze of the cross. The car with our damsel is ahead of the rest, while the yellow eyed master of sex and dreams propels it towards the epicenter of the cross. The light is blinding, and Turbo Killer has claimed his victim. The muse is satisfied and she can continue her reign with him beside her. Sexual, intense, breathtaking, this video has it all. It’s like a speedball through your speakers and screen, coupling and claiming the first place prize in Synthetix Telegenic.

If you'd like to submit a video for possible inclusion in Synthetix Telegenic please contact me via the Facebook Synthetix Telegenic page here.

(Synthetix Telegenic will be back in two weeks with more the best music video productions from the 80s inspired synth scene! Many, many thanks to James Mann for his unwavering passion and eloquence in creating this superb content for Synthetix.FM - RS)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Midweek Flashback: Breakfast Club

By Rick Shithouse

A couple of years ago we had the first Midweek Flashback post on Synthetix.FM where I had a closer look at The System and their then new album. My intention was to devote this kind of post to 80s bands and artists who were still releasing music with a bit of a retrospective on their 80s product as well. It's unfortunate that most producers who made classically 80s music in the decade itself have moved on; with the exception of some Italo producers and the last OMD record, I've been hard up finding any bands from the 80s still rockin the same kind of vibes.

In the case of this Midweek Flashback it's a slightly different proposal, however, as this time we're covering new music that was written in the 80s but hasn't been released until now. I find this even more special as being such an aficionado of the decade means hearing new-old music; especially from a band a greatly enjoy, is a genuinely electrifying experience.

In the case of the new Breakfast Club EP, Percolate, it spans their 87-89 period with a selection of five tracks. Now, just to back peddle a bit, if you aren't aware of who Breakfast Club are here's their iconic 'Right On Track' single from 1987 jog your memory.

This song exemplifies so much of what I love about the 80s and it was an instant favourite song and video. The video is still one of the most-80s videos you'll ever see but the magic of the music is what makes it rock so hard. Breakfast Club had other great tracks too that unfortunately never reached the success of 'Right On Track', particularly 'Rico Mambo' and another favourite of mine 'Expressway To Your Heart'. Breakfast Club's tunes always have an exciting mix of pop, funk and R&B sounds that have a genuinely whimsical and straight up 'fun' nature to them. The infectious melodies were complemented by clever lyrics and the grooves were guaranteed to make the their music super dancefloor friendly.

This period for pop music in the late 80s was an incredibly pivotal one as new R&B influences courtesy of the likes of Janet Jackson's Control and Whitney Houston's self titled debut crossed over with pop, funk and dance music and mixed in all new ways. Not to mention the fledgling electronic dance music scenes and the wider accessibility of hip-hop records. This made for some very individualised styles and sounds for a few years before everything changed in the early 90s. I, personally, find the more AOR oriented pop from this period my favourite. The likes of Go West, Mike and the Mechanics, Level 42, Living In A Box, Johnny Hates Jazz, et al brought a more sophisticated sound to the pop charts. The later 80s records from Spandau Ballet, Simple Minds and Human League also followed in this manner, essentially providing a more 'mature' sound for their now more mature audience from the early 80s.

But, much of the 'fun' of the earlier parts of the decade were losing popularity in this period. R&B was getting dirtier, pop was getting angstier and rock was getting grungier. The whole concept of fun music started becoming irrelevant in this time and a palpable seriousness replaced it instead. The climax of this, of course, was Milli Vanilli's public defrocking and shaming after the 'shocking realisation' came out that they were merely the front piece for the act and had nothing to do with the writing of performing. Funny how the same mastermind (Frank Farian) behind Milli Vanilli did exactly the same thing with Boney M in the late 70s and no one really seemed to care and Boney M are still a beloved icon of the disco era. Timing is everything it would appear; especially true in the music industry, but pop was never really the same after this.

In a roundabout way that brings me back right on track to the Breakfast Club's Percolate EP. The fun and groove and good times are back in vogue with five pieces of pop you'll find infectious and entertaining as the clock turns back to this time for an all new experience. The lead track off Percolate, 'Court Of Love' sets a scene both familiar and brand new at the same time. The Breakfast Club magic hits quick and hard as the bassline zooms into an opening chorus you'll be singing along to the next time you hear it.

One of the things I really miss about the 80s are lyrics that are as fun as they are cleverly written, the delightful 80s naivete is so underappreciated today. 'Court Of Love' is a wonderful example of how the 80s got this so rockin much. Like 'Right On Track' the story told is that thrill of the chase for that one girl you dearly want but plays it half hard to get, half not interested. A piece of classically 80s pop magic indeed.

The EP follows up 'Court Of Love' with my favourite track of the five 'Mirage'. The catchiness of this song is incredibly strong, from the xylophonic melody accents to a chorus bridge that would do Hall and Oats in their finest hour proud. The playfulness of the melody gets great support from the brass back up and, as always, the vocal performance from Dan Gilroy provides that soulfully true and smooth aesthetic that's a hallmark of the Breakfast Club sound.

'Can't Put My Finger On It' sounds like it might have been one of the later tracks as it goes for a more R&B/Funk aesthetic from the later 80s and has just enough New Jack Swing to distance itself from a track from an earlier period. The guitars and brass provide a vibrant soundstage that feels electric and energetic while the vocals croon smoothly. This continues into the next track, 'It Just Don't Get Any Better' as Breakfast Club go just a little ballad-y but prove even in this atmosphere they can't help rockin that 80s fun and playfulness. There's any Amy Grant kind of accessibility to this song that makes sure you get the sentiment but not at the expense of the fun.

The EP closes with another strong jam, 'Hello' with some of the catchiest arrangements that glide with a rockin flow and bassline groove you'll find wholly engaging. The heavy keyboard lead provides the soul while the strings add just enough disco to making dancing a necessity. As with all the tracks on this EP, and Breakfast Club's sound in general, the songwriting and polish makes the music shine in all of its aspects.

I really loved going through this EP, it brought back memories of the 80s as well as making new ones and that is truly rockin to the max. The Percolate EP comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM and is available on iTunes here, Amazon here as well as Spotify here. For all the future developments with Breakfast Club (and another EP is promised soon!) be sure to Like their page on Facebook here. Also, they are looking for video producers to work with, so if you're interested please message them via their Facebook page. Definitely and exciting project I can't wait to see the results of!

I'd like to thank Breakfast Club's Stephen Bray for reaching out to Synthetix.FM to let me know about this release, I hope this becomes something a tad more regular as I'd expect there's a lot music recorded in the 80s from artists we love that remains unreleased. The more these artists know that there's a loving and appreciative market for these sounds the more it will hopefully happen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Transmitting Energy into Endeavour: A Focused Look at Syntax's Transmissions

By Michael CA L

Syntax is a producer that's got his act together, and he got it together fast. Around this time last year, San Diego's James Mann was only just becoming a familiar name to those with their finger on the retro-electronic pulse through the release of his Sunrise EP on 30th Floor Records. This seven song EP gave synth-heads and electronic music aficionados a potent dose of ambient, cinematic, retro-futuristic compositions that contained within each of them the unique capacity to both sooth and energize the listener (a rare and complex feat), and at the same time delivered a poignant example of how to make the most of each second of soundspace by creating dense, beautifully atmospheric exercises in synthesis that are memorable and emotionally stirring.

Before being encouraged to get his music out into the open by TFR label boss Mike George, James was composing music casually while at the same time working full time in Southern California's highly-demanding television industry and, no-doubt, balancing his work responsibilities with a plethora of other time-consuming endeavours. The thing is, James Mann is perhaps one of the busiest, hardest-working personalities both within the retro-synth scene and in life outside of it. There's rarely a moment when he's not focused on one project or another, and if he's not busy composing richly-textured synth tracks or performing them live, he's working longs days and nights with camera in hand, dedicating quality time to the people in his life, or, just for the fun of it, accepting a challenging and labour-intensive contract in a teaching position that focuses on his work in media. Somehow he gets it all done, and perhaps the most shocking thing is that he gets it all done with a smile on his face, energy to spare, and an eagerness for more.

Since those fateful, initial communiqués with Mike George and the subsequent release of the Sunrise EP (remember, this was just a year ago), Syntax has gone on to release the full-length Island Universe album (with guest appearances by Droid Bishop and Tape Loader), started performing live sets at various venues around Southern California, remixed tracks by artists such as Hide and Sequence, contributed songs to a handful of compilations albums, and has now released his much-anticipated Transmissions album. With this new release, Syntax continues to explore that sweet spot between intensity and calm; that indefinable place where electricity and atmosphere intermingle. It's a place where many seek to go but are rarely able to express in a manner as finely and succinctly balanced. The result is a powerhouse of an album that contains all of the atmosphere and densely-textured elements that Syntax's listeners have come to value, but does so in a manner that, true to the life of James Mann, is always densely occupied, always progressive, and always building upon itself.

From the opening seconds until its final moments, the album's first track "Intro" contains within it a powerfully resonating arpeggio, expressive chimes and expansive, densely textured synthwork that each contribute to a powerful, cumulative effect and let the listener know that they're in for a deep exploration of sound and the space between it. It's a potent collage and one that, inside its brief but poignant one minute and twenty-seven second microcosm, introduces listeners to many elements that they will hear again (albeit in various shapes, forms and contexts) as they move through the album and experience the nuanced variety of Syntax's sonic world.

Songs like "Tangents", "Sernride" and "Transmissions (featuring STARFORCE)" are lush and atmospheric, with haunting pads that push all the right buttons on brains such as my own that are tuned towards the atmospheric side of synthwave. Each of these tracks makes full use of stereophonic treatment, meticulous production, and precise mixing and mastering courtesy of ToneBox. Using his evident understanding of how to express organic, human statements through the use of digital technology, Syntax creates a headphone dream in tracks such as these. It's a dream that is emotional, symbolic, heartfelt and brilliantly subtle, reaffirming the concept of less is more in an often deceptively complex manner. "Transmissions (feat. STARFORCE)" in particular is a powerful achievement and quite honestly one of the great collaborations within the retro-synth genre. It's a song that is deeply unique and utterly memorable, and yet perhaps has its distant roots planted in the works of legendary synth masters such as Vangelis and Tangerine Dream. It's a radiant highlight within the continuous shimmer of the Transmissions whole, which says much about the consistency and power of this collection of music.

On the more forceful, up-tempo and storm-driven end of the Transmissions spectrum are tracks like "Parsec," "Transit," "Moonraker," "Catigern," and "Vermillion." Through their use of intense rhythms, pacing and quick-fire melodic changes, these tracks contain all of the irresistible incursion, kinetic energy, density and pressure of a tempestuous weather system rolling in from the beyond. "Vermillion" was the first track heard by most listeners when it came to their introduction to Syntax's new album. Released via Syntax's Soundcloud page, the listener was given an enticing morsel of rhythmic and rolling Syntactic energy to savour until the time when the album was released. In a manner that is distinctly Syntaxian, arpeggios and dense layers of rhythm collide with swirling ambience on this track. Merging with pads and synth stabs that criss-cross the frequency spectrum, all these aspects blend to create a unique display of sound in which space and a tight focus contrast each other with all the ebb, flow and collision of a tempest releasing its energy on the home-shores of Syntax's Pacific coast.

Among the album's mid-tempo tracks are "Sonar," "Lillium (feat. Droid Bishop)," "Startseite," "Yuriko," "Stratus (feat. HOME)" and "Polaris." "Yuriko" starts out in a deceptively gentle manner but morphs into a fast-paced rollick that has distinctive drum and bass influences. Approaching the listener out of the black like a dark omen being carried by all the weight and relentlessness of a black-cloud nightmare, "Polarius" is a brooding track that enters the ears sounding like the aural representation of impending doom. "Stratus (feat. HOME)" is a track that lies somewhere between the realm of the down and mid-tempo. It's one that carries a heaviness and dark intensity and yet was pieced together with an obvious respect for subtlety and the delicate. This collaboration of ideas from Syntax and HOME is incredibly effective, and the song impressively highlights the ability of both artists to capture the aforementioned elements together in one potent composition.

Transmissions encompasses so very much within its hour-long runtime. It's an album that contains a beautiful balance between the heavy-hitting, high-tempo and utterly danceable tracks and the lush, smouldering tracks that slow-burn their way through the body's conductor mediums and into the brain. When one takes a look at the life and times of James Mann, the super-charged creator of the Syntax project, it's not too hard to understand how such a powerful, superbly executed procedure in the harnessing, distillation, transfer and transmission of energy could come to be. James Mann is a man who gets things done. It's impossible to say for sure, but perhaps he's one of the hardest working people within the synthwave community. Whatever the case, his music is a genuine reflection of his world - one where energy is never wasted, only shaped and directed towards one remarkable endeavour or another, and one where there's a constant forward momentum. Until his next creative burst of energy provides us with a new example of retro-inspired excellence, I can only say that Syntax's latest release Transmissions comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.

Transmissions is available here through 30th Floor Records' Bandcamp page.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Synthetix Sundays

Synthetix Sundays is here to save the day with another super powered episode to battle crime on the neon streets with your host, Super Marko Maric, only on Radio Pure Gently!

This week's action packed episode has Marko fighting for justice and glory side by side in interviews with Neon Nox, Dead Astronauts and Arcade High! This is the very first audio interview for Dead Astronauts so expect lots entertaining moves and plot twists! 

Marko's back up armoury is all set and ready to pounce with Paul Dress2Kill Daly, Synthetix Spotlight and Quality Time With Shithouse all prepared to unleash their firepower on the evildoers of the universe!

All this along with all the hottest tracks of the week and tonnes of giveaways this is the blockbuster event you can't afford to miss!

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.

Quality Time With Shithouse Feature Tracks:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Simply Kiile

By James Mann

When music makes a profound impact in your emotional state, outlook on life itself, and in general an overall sense of well being, the conclusion ends up being nothing shy of positive. Enter Kiile, the sweet and delicious soundtrack to all of our retro and modern lives. Full of wonder and nostalgia, this talented artist from Southern California delivers the dreamwave and melodic compositions that remind us all that we are in fact human, and that we can all…well, be happy. Cruising through arpeggiations and baselines of the most authentic caliber, this synth wizard takes us through a starlit sphere of beauty, awe and finesse with his innate knowledge of music and execution of mood enhancing tunes.

In his latest self titled release, Kiile manages to evoke such a wide range of feelings along with poignant, emotive and complex arrangements for an incredibly satisfying ride. Operating under a fine level of constraint, he manages to layer beautiful pads, lead melodies and driving percussion to create a perfect balance. Coupled with wonderful production, each track maintains a signature feel without become cliche….a delicate balance in the world of retrowave with so many artists configuring and executing similar sounds. Some tracks are made for dancing, and some are perfect for that sunset walk on the beach. Kiile pulls it all off in true form, and gives you the options to take the wonder of his tunes anywhere.

‘Dancing With a Ghost’ immediately smacks your speakers with a lovely and heartfelt arrangement. The dream is real in this one. A sweet arpeggiated synth and 4/4 beat immediately capture the mood. (and your heartstrings) Choice layering and melodies build to culminate in the perfect drop out. A slow and steady phased re-entry comes full circle to make the second half of the song even more desirable and energetic than the first! There is a huge Timecop1983 feel/sound in this, but I actually prefer the warmth and speed of this track more than other paced out and slower retro ballads. Class act Kiile, you have our attention.

Los Angeles powerhouse Future Holotype joins forces for a So Cal tour de force in ’Strangers In the Night’. Visions of a John Hugh’s movie races montage styled clips through my head with craft and care, the energy is so palpable AND enjoyable. A constrained and effective buildup of that pulsing bass and shimmering leads coupled with warm pads tears through in high retro-force impact. (I’ve come quickly to realize this is the Kiile sound) Superb and highly emotional vocals with one of the catchiest verses and refrains I’ve heard all year slay this composition and truly deliver some of the best this expansive scene has to offer! It’s effortless and stunning. A solo unleashes over the epic structure and demonstrates some truly fine talent from both of these synthficionados. Well done gentleman, one of my favorites on the album.

Taking the energy down several notches through the land of sensual and sultry, it’s time to pop that top shelf bottle of wine to romance that special someone. Whether she is curvy and sleek, or truly that one in a million, (heck even both) it’s time for romance. A candlelit dinner followed by a censored after hours rendezvous is imperative when I hear the emotional powerhouse ‘Constellations.’ Glassy and thoughtful melodies groove and meld together like two bodies in the night, the passion and heat radiating from each snare clap and chord progression racing and moving towards maximum pleasure. This is one beautiful woman…I mean song! One of the more mature and gorgeous tracks on the release, this is a masterpiece. Does anyone have a towel?

As the day ends and the uncertain cloak of darkness takes over, he reminisces on a time where he could feel her. She was the one who couldn’t come soon enough, yet left all too quickly. The rain drops slink down the window as smeared streaks of light dance through the mismatched drops. Refracting light through his blurred eyes and sadness pays that familiar visit, the realization is reinforced that she is in fact gone forever. ‘Business Class’ immediately strikes a pensive and somber wave of feelings that encapsulate all my senses and being. A Richard Marx/Phil Collins blend of incredible synths open this massive track and maintain their strength throughout. I am immediately transported back to 1985. There is a sense of sadness and pain coursing through, but accessible enough to come through as the most impactful tracks on the album. It’s actually my favorite.

The bell rings. Second period is over and the east wing hallway is now packed with the excited bustle of students, one step closer to their 3 o clock freedom. Strategically you steer right alongside the blue wall of lockers, knowing you will see her. The bouncing blond curls, high set cheekbones and crimson lips. It’s a familiar sight, but the rush of adrenaline and intensity feels like it’s the first time ever. ‘Into Your Eyes’ swiftly switches gears and takes you to a more innocent time in life. We were ruled by emotions, the prospect of the bell taking you one step closer to fun and summer, and anticipating the familiar sight and scent of your summer crush. The moods and synthesizers in this stunningly beautiful composition make these days we will never see again so tangible and real. She flashes a coy look and smiles as you pretend to stare beyond her. She stops. Press play. Kiile finishes the story.

‘Motion Pictures’ continues the dreamwave factory from Kiile, bringing a sweet and melodic composition showcasing crystal and razor sharp production overlaid with sweet guitar shreds. His driving beat and signature bass allow for powerful Juno-like synths to occupy the most nostalgic of headspace, transporting the listener to another dimension. Space, stars and fast motion planets come to mind as I am able to imagine myself far away from the constraints and bustle of work, life and responsibilities. This is a wonderful piece that provides the much needed therapy after a long day at work.

‘Across The Blue Oblivion’ is a ballad for the ages, the slower side of Kiile that transcends time. Heavy lending to the MPM/Timecop1983 sound, the influences are there but he really brands this one as his own. A distant and almost eerie yet comforting sax dots the synthscape for an unusual and pleasing effect. Slow and well planned, this arrangement manages to evoke such a sweet mood. Memories of the past and future collide for a spectacular demonstration in restraint and finesse. I love this. The maturity in sound and production is exceptional and puts Kiile in a class of his own.

Dune Cruisin’ rides the line between romance and power. Two strong and dominating aspects of our everyday life. Another driving arrangement from this SoCal musician displays yet another powerhouse track full of sophistication and class. Warm synths and more Juno sounding leads take you through dream sequence Kiile. The momentum of any Kiile track is lasting, and this one is no exception. Another solid execution and a thoroughly enjoyable piece from Kiile.

‘Out Here Alone’ brings the pensive and heartfelt vibes of sadness and loss in the Kiile arsenal. These beautiful and lasting melodies are exceptional, and to be honest right up my alley. I feel music is meant to touch on not just sadness and loss, but also hope and happiness. Having the ability to demonstrate such a wide range of progressions to encompass both is truly a beautiful thing. All of the right layers are present here. A sense of isolation and warmth comes through and Kiile really knows how to handle and execute. Top track and my second favorite on the album.

Kiile manages to bring something to the scene which reinforces the beauty and joy in songs that capture the best of our 80s and retro sensibilities. Weaving through tempos and synthesizers used to define the decade of anything goes, each track is an exceptional stamp of authentic and emotive work. Not shying away from a variety of moods, it’s evident this artists digs deep to express himself. It’s so easy to get lost in space, time and your imagination with the sounds of Kiile. This without a doubt is one of the strongest releases I’ve heard this year and any lover of dreamwave and all around quality music would be remiss not to add this to their collection.

The album is available on Kiile's Bandcamp here and comes very, very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Objet D'Rad

In this month's Objet D'Rad I'll be looking at a real icon of the 80s, the Le Clic camera. The 80s had an uncanny knack of making a mundane or design-starved object become a work of incredible artistic design. Following on from the success of the Swatch watch the Le Clic camera did a similar thing with the camera. Throwing out all concepts of established camera design, Le Clic came up with something absolutely spectacular and marketed it as a fashion accessory primarily. They sold the lifestyle as the product and the 80s emodiment of marketing never rung truer. But look at those lines, such an absolutely stunning piece of design.

The launch for the Le Clic line was a most bodacious exhibition of 80s excess and can be read in full in this article from the Chicago Tribune in detail and really set the tone for what the brand was about. Adding a 'Le' to any commonplace item instantly gave it a mystique and affluence in the 80s and combined with exciting and vibrant advertising made this iconic overnight.

The energy and dynamism this camera was going to bring to your lifestyle is beautifully realised in this commercial too. The use of still images animated in this manner was another great 80s style that was often used in commercials to crystallise the frame while keeping things exciting and never static.

Le Clic Ad from Rick Shithouse on Vimeo.

All advertising hyperbole aside the camera itself simplified the process of taking photos by offering very few controls and opted for using Disc Film, which was a new format for the 80s and although technically inferior to regular film, didn't diminish its futuristic cachet. The repositioning of the shutter button to the front face certainly made for a avant garde design choice, but not so much for practicality, but that point is moot when the camera itself is so full of style

Even the packaging was highly design oriented with 80s aeshetics positively leaping off the display pegs. The jaunty angle of the camera in the blister pack and the delightfully refined geometric lines just exude style and cool. Of course the Le Clic range traded greatly on the range of colours available and (as evidenced in the advertising above) promoted carrying multiple Le Clics of different colours to again follow Swatch's campaign of wearing as many of their watches as possible.

The original Le Clic range paved the way for slimmer designed cameras that opted for traditional film and through the 90s Le Clic tried to keep their products relevant to the changing times but never recaptured the 80s magic that their first line enjoyed. Although the line launched in 1986 the pop culture references occurred later on. I'm unaware of other movies that had Le Clics in them, but please contact me if you see them in other ones.

First off is the absolutely iconic piece of late 80s cinema Miracle Mile. This is really one of my favourite 80s movies and towards its climax we're spoiled Le Click fanservice as the leads pause outside of an incredible Le Clic retail display (make sure you Le Clic the image for a better look).

Then in 1992 the always enchanting Marisa Tomei brandished a stunning pink Le Clic as Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny throughout the picture, albeit with the brand name carefully removed..

The Le Clic cameras are definitely a classic 80s example of style over substance, but in the decade where consumerism, excess and fashion all blended into eachother in the most inspiring ways sometimes the 'look' is just as; if not more important, than the function itself.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Synthetix Sundays

It's time for another massive episode of Synthetix Sundays, only on Radio Pure Gently!

This week Marko's rockin all the hippest vibes and sharing that 80s love as he interviews one of the dark lords of the synth Daniel Deluxe about his new opust Corruptor and also conversing with sci-fi soundtrack master Holon.

All the regular segments are ready to rock with Paul 'Dress2Kill' Daly, Dallas' Synthetix Spotlight and of course Quality Time with Shithouse, this week for the first time ever featuring an exclusive track from Chrome Brulee's Donnie Lightning!

Along with all the raddest tunes you can handle and tonnes of giveaways this is sure to be another spectacular thrill ride!

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.

Synthetix Telegenic Launches!

I'm also very proud to announce a new part of your Synthetix Experience as James Syntax Mann has has just launched the Synthetix Telegenic project! This thoroughly exciting new venture is going to focus on the most creative and inspiring music videos in synthwave with biweekly posts on Synthetix.FM as well as a dedicated Facebook page and YouTube channel. This is a way to really give that extra bit of love and appreciation to those creative souls giving the music we love a visual respresentation. Get onto Synthetix Telegenic here for the full lowdown!

Quality Time With Shithouse Feature Tracks

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hello Meteor's Weather Patterns

By Sarah Halloran

 “Just a guy making music in a forest”. That’s how Hello Meteor very modestly describes himself. I kind of want to visit that forest if it inspires music like this. If this is your first time listening to Hello Meteor, then your lucky ears are about to get the full pamper treatment. Ardent fans are also in for a treat. So, come on, give that little sideways triangle down there a gentle push and sink deep down into the warm, welcoming arms of Weather Patterns.

So, do you remember the wonderful flying scenes from ‘Flight of the Navigator’ where oceans, cityscapes and green fields are speeding by in a blur below us? Opening track ‘The Continental Shelf’ evoked these memories for some reason, and I hadn’t seen the movie in years. Strange the doors that music can unexpectedly unlock. Warm synths gently wash over this track in waves, and prepare us for the blissful ride still ahead of us - 10 tracks ahead of us in fact! Aren’t we lucky?!

My favourite track on the entire album, and it was a really difficult choice, has to be 'Harbour'. It’s just perfect in every way. Easy going, with a lighter-than-air melody, this track instantly had me closing my eyes and smiling, thinking of sitting on my favourite beach, just watching the little birds flying in and out of their rocky homes, and the water glinting as the sun made its way home beneath the horizon. Am I being a little cliched? Hell yeah! This album is going to be the soundtrack of my 2016 summer.

And on we drift on our soul-soothing quest into short, but very sweet 'Estuary'. As we are met with the somehow comforting trill of cicadas on the wind, haunting synths emerge, bringing the mood down a notch. I feel this is one for listening to in the evening, or late at night when there is nobody else around. Doesn’t music just sound so much better at night? Why is that? Technical answers welcome!

'Confetti' is the perfect follow-up, and keeps us in that down-beat, slightly melancholy groove. And then, a surprising, shimmering key change beautifully brings everything together for the next minute, until finally we reach a sublime and subdued ending.

The gorgeous, warmly familiar, and almost lullaby-like tones of 'Ambulance' are beautifully composed, and in true Hello Meteor fashion, able to stir up good or sad memories, depending on your mood. No percussion, and it’s really not necessary in the slightest, on this gently soothing, expertly mastered masterpiece.

'Do you remember?' has everything dreamwave should have - crisp kicks, floaty chords, tinkling keys and I think I may have heard a flute at one point. This puts me in mind of the track that would play out in a movie where the lead actress is going about her day, waving to neighbours, jumping in the car, carrying out errands, totally unaware that she is about to bump into the man of her dreams. Their paths cross in an accidental bump of heads at the supermarket, groceries fall to the ground, their eyes lock, and in true 80’s flick fashion, a string of hilarious events play out until they finally realise they were made for each other.

Ooh, well 'Makahoa' is a surprising little number, that’s for sure! For a track that is named after an area in Hawaii, house stabs and an almost reggae lilt were not what I was expecting at all. And you know what? It works! Is there nothing this guy can’t work with?

I’m going to cheat a little here with 'High Surf Advisory' and take some of the words from Hello Meteor’s interview with Marko on Synthetix Sundays. The almost ying and yang nature of the ocean was the inspiration here - one moment calm and tranquil, and the next frightening and formidable. Calm, but with an undertone of urgency, this is another favourite for me, and one I’ll return to often.

'Airlift' does exactly what it says in its name and makes us floaty light, lifting us high above the clouds. Up here it’s calm and peaceful, and we’ll be happy to stay up here forever and ever and ever, as we drift on a wave of sliding synths and almost ethereal choral voices.

Alas, against our will, we must return back to terra firma but thankfully it’s to laid back 'Crater', easily my second favourite track on the album. I just love the arrangement of the moody, almost ominous synths, and the crisp and clear production. 'Crater' takes a life of its own towards the end and almost growls out its closing notes. Don’t get too close. This track may bite!

It’s time to end our glorious journey, and step back into the harsh glaring headlights of real life. But don’t worry. You still have 'Only the Golden' and its gorgeous synths and joyful tinkly charm to parachute you down gently, give you a warm hug and send you on your way with some kind words.

For those Hello Meteor fans wondering if Weather Patterns stands up to the last album, The Glowing, the answer is absolutely! In fact, after a fair few plays, I’d be bold enough to say this is his best work yet! I really, really want to visit that forest!

Weather Patterns comes very, very highly recommended by Synthetix FM and is available on Hello Meteor's Bandcamp page here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Lost Years' Venom

By Lachie Hunt

Lost Years is best known for his work on the 2015 film Kung Fury, which is how I discovered him. A friend was actually given one of the tracks from Kung Fury as an example of what he should try to aim towards in his own soundtrack work. Seeing that really made me take notice of Kung Fury and Lost Years' effects on the retro scene in general. Kung Fury has now almost become synonymous with the retro synth scene, and Lost Years is a large part of it.

As far as new full length releases go, a new Lost Years hasn't come out since 2013 with Amplifier. The first release from Lost Years was a super strong 3 track EP, setting the precedent for his trademark hard rolling bass and synth stabs, along with his unique of percussion and panning. Nuclear EP was then followed by Black Waves, a fourteen track, one hour long beast of an album. Tracks like 'West Side Lane' and 'The Harbour Heist' were fantastic continuations of the styles built into Nuclear. Meanwhile, tracks such as 'Temptations' and 'Cold' were of a slower, more emotional style.

Amplifier in contrast was a shorter more danceable release, with ten shorter tracks. The one-two combo punch of 'Breacher' and 'Red Horizon' are still my favourite tracks Lost Years has made. The more ambient style continued through into a few tracks here still, with seemingly less action in them to make up for the more intense tracks. All through these releases the production has been on point, with every track's mix something to look towards for aspiring producers such as myself.

That brings us to now, early 2016. Venom, released with little fanfare, and the only promotion I could see being done by Rosso Corsa before launch was a post saying a new Lost Years release was incoming. That being said, for Lost Years that was probably enough. The cover art, as always, is fantastic although this time it seems to be a little harder on the eyes, although I'm not complaining.

First up, 'A Start Is the Beginning of an End'. This is where the first difference between this and the other releases come in. The production in general sounds much clearer and louder, and it's obvious that Lost Years has decided to go for quality over quantity in his tracks. The track itself is a thirty two second long intro that features a fast arp and really just showcases the improved sound. Its sole purpose seems to be exactly that, as it appears to be the only real filler track Lost Years has done.

'Cross the Line'is where the real release begins however. The intro features a bassline arp that's capable of dredging up old memories from 'The Harbour Heist', with what sounds like a Jupiter bass in the background, the droning adding to the vibe of the song. The usual synth stabs and panned percussion hits mixed with a few different styles of lead help to keep the song fresh along the length of it.

'Skies of Blood' is a little of a misleading title for this sort of song. If you're familiar with previous Lost Years releases, the closest track to this is 'Park Avenue 1989', a song heavily featuring samples from 1989 talking about the Berlin Wall. Fun fact - both these tracks are the third tracks on their releases, which leads me to believe that this was intentional, a sort of spiritual successor if you will.

'Skies Of Blood' is the most chilled out song on the release with a low bass constantly going in the background and an almost saxophone sounding lead tying it all together through the song alongside a plucked synth that sounds amazing. The use of reverb here is astounding, every part of the song is drenched in it.

'Snakebite' feels very different to other tracks Lost Years has produced. The use of additional percussion here is minimal apart from a few tom fills, which is a welcome break. It features the brass stabs and varied synth leads most of his songs do, but here it feels more chilled out, and the bassline feels a little more relaxed.

'The Connection' is the most nostalgic track for me out of the bunch, while 'Skies of Blood' sounds familiar; this song just fills me with the feelings I had back when I started getting into synthwave, trying to produce a track with a plucked string VST in an open source Digital Audio Workstation. The song just takes me back and of course it's markedly in execution than my attempt.

The song itself seems underwhelming at first, a trademark Lost Years bassline with a hard sync lead below it. However at around the 1:30 Mark, a powerful pluck kicks in that is one of my favourite melodies of the year. The arp used in the background in between these sections is classic Lost Years, fast with gaps in it. This track is easily my favourite from the release.

The title track, 'Venom', wastes no time into throwing the listener into a hard bassline and some neat background pads alongside a heap of nice plucks and a large use of synth leads. The melodies here are fantastic as well, constantly being switched out for new lines and sounding great at every turn.

'In Vain' features a vocal sample leading into the main track. It reminds me of something like Crockett's tracks, but with a unique Lost Years element to it. The toms used here are far harder, alongside the reverb 707 that almost clips. The song really just sounds frantic and dark, possibly the darkest Lost Years has ever gone. However I feel the changeover of a few melodies and parts could have been made a little smoother, though that's just my personal opinion.

Venom as a whole is a future classic that should be looked at as an example of how to do fantastic synthwave that covers a variety of tones while keeping the same sound aestheically. Every song here sounds far more memorable as a whole than past Lost Years releases, not that those were forgettable at all, but in those tracks like 'West Side Lane' over shone the rest. Here every track feels up to the same high quality.

Rosso Corsa Records presents Lost Years' Venom on their Bandcamp here.  It's also available on  Lost Years' Soundcloud here and will presumably show up on Spotify at some point. This release comes very, very higly recommended from Synthetix.FM.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Synthetix Sundays

Synthetix Sundays is back with a high powered arsenal of the best in 80s inspired synth music and rockin interviews for you only on Radio Pure Gently! Lock and load, and prepare for mayhem!

This week's show has three megaton interviews from three of the most explosive recent album releases as Marko gets Syntax, Hello Meteor and Robert Parker in his sights for high calibre crossfire and maximum excitement!

All the regular back up personnel are ready to wage battle with Paul Dress-2-Kill Daly, Dallas's Synthetix Spotlight and Quality Time with Shithouse all polishing their own personal weapons of choice in preparation for an onslaught of synthtacular skirmishes.

Marko also has a super secret weapon exclusive track from LNDRMN as well as a B52 load of albums to drop! So it's bomb's away and get ready for the heaviest action you've seen in years!

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.

Quality Time With Shithouse Feature Tracks