Thursday, May 12, 2016


Lee Rosevere - Synthcronicity

By Andrew B. White

Synthcronicity is the newly released EP by Vancouver’s Lee Rosevere. If Sellorekt/LA Dreams had any competition as far as releases go, then Lee Rosevere is his nearest rival with over two dozen titles to his credit. Granted, not all of those are synthwave, but many are electronic and ambient based with titles like “Music for Podcasts” and “Music For Malls” – you get the picture. However, Rosevere also has a dedicated synthwave project called Rocket Maxx with two releases under his belt, so there is definitely a large proliferation of music stemming from his fingertips.

Synthcronicity contains five songs in total and of these two (‘Dreaming’ and ‘User Friendly’) are reworks of older songs. First track ‘Dreaming’ (Body Electric Mix) gently drives a long with a melodic synth lead, some bubbly arpeggiations, chunky synth drums and spoken vocal samples. Second track ‘Neon Skies’ is slower and sparser and rises and falls with layers of instrumentation. ‘User Friendly’ (Future Mix) is features more arpeggiated synths and a restrained four-on-the floor beat that successfully puts it into outrun territory. ‘Telecom’ steps over into a more lightweight pop vibe and, very much like the title suggests, could be telephone hold music or the backing on an ’80s demonstration video. Last track on the EP is ‘Star Song’ and reminds me of William Orbit’s “Strange Cargo” series, pushed in a synthwave direction. This track also features a spoken word sample of Ruth Golding reading excerpts of the audio book "Star Song” by Gladys Cromwell, giving weight to the William Orbit comparison.

Synthcronicity is a ‘friendly’ and inviting EP, very much in the major key of things with great melodies. A little light in the dark and most enjoyable. I’d definitely check out Rosevere’s other releases to hear more of his varied and interesting work.

One other thing about Rosevere’s is that most of his music is released for free under Creative Commons (or name your price via Bandcamp) and much of it can be used royalty free in some instances.

Synthcronicity is available on Bandcamp here and the Free Music Archive here. If you are quick you can also get one of five (yes, only five!) cassette copies of the EP which interestingly enough have been dubbed in real time to one side of the tape only. Each of the five cassette shells comes in a different color!

Paradise Walk & Morgan Willis EP

By Lachie Hunt

Cardiff based synthpop duo Paradise Walk teamed up with Morgan Willis to bring us Paradise Walk & Morgan Willis EP, a four track synthpop slice of bliss.

My favorite track on the release by far is Last Call. It does such a good job at emulating the 80s sound that I could imagine it playing on the radio in the mid eighties. Reverb vocals and acoustic guitar mixed with beautiful synth help to create an amazing atmosphere. The little guitar solos through the song are fantastic too, keeping the groove rolling.

My other favorite is Knife Edge (Against it All). I love it for the same reasons as Last Call, but the guitars are used more repetitively here, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The chorus of this track is legendary, some of the best vocals and lyrics I've heard in the synth scene.

This EP reminded me of Sebastian Gampl's Winner, although with a much more modern approach to production and a more poppy feel. Still very much worth your time and money. Paradise Walk & Morgan Willis EP is available through Paradise Walk's Bandcamp for £5 here, and available to stream on Soundcloud here.

Kattch - Retrorush EP

By Rick Shithouse

Kattch's latest EP is a transfixing and mesmerizing work that does a magnificent job of taking small things and turning them into something vastly epic. How epic? The fact the title track has a 'Side B' goes to show how deep Kattch's investment is in his music. Coming from a very Tommy-esque school of 80s inspired synth Kattch works the subtleties and nuances of his melodies into sprawling monolithic creations that completely enrapture the listener. 'Retrorush' itself is as hypnotizing as it is addictive as the synths and percussion take you on a journey far from where you currently are. The 'Side B' version of this piece adds some battlefield sounding samples, which definitely surprised me, while the track gets tweaked into slightly different shades of itself. I fell in love with this track on first listen and I find myself going back to revel in its thoroughly delightful details time and time again.

Following from the duo of Retrorush's Kattch then moves into the atmospheric 'Hopes (VIP)'. It builds with beauty and that familiar vastness into a far more experimental range that is refreshing and alluring. The synthscape swirls and fades into and unto itself with a percussive track that has more in common with modern hip hop than anything traditionally associated with 80s inspired synthwave music but it works. The sparseness of the scene painted allows for these avant garde mixtures to blend and support each other throughout the story which climaxes with a deep and triumphant final phase.

'RT-85', although clocking in at the shortest track, became an instant love affair with me as the Tommy on Com Truise aesthetic created an absolutely wonderful synthscape. The heavily accented percussion and utterly bewitching modulation kept me spellbound for its duration. A magical and completely enthralling experience.

Rounding out the EP is 'Modern Vintage' which is also given a remix by Dashcam. It's kind of ironic that 'Modern Vintage' is one of the more complete songs on the EP yet isn't quite as experimental as the previous expositions. Nonetheless this track hits superbly hard when lands as the beat thuds with impossible power and the synth melodies layer in with beauty, feeling and a sense of awe. The Dashcam remix changes the geography of the track with a distinctly Asiatic piquancy that really gives the story an entirely different tone and direction. Definitely a remix that respects the original's intention and story albeit with a different cast and location.

Kattch's Retrorush EP is available in the usual array of digitally downloadable formats via Future City Records' Bandcamp page here and is definitely one of the most complete and worthy EP releases I've had the pleasure of listening to in recent times. Definitely worth your expenditure of time and currency.

De Lorra - Chances
By Sarah Halloran

De Lorra - Chances EP De Lorra may be fairly new to the scene, but trust me, this is one artist that I hope we are going to see much more from. There’s been talk this week on a few Facebook threads of synthwave producers churning out the same sounds, and not pushing themselves musically, or the genre to new dimensions. I don’t know about that, but I can tell you that De Lorra has it all sussed, and has worked out the formula for creating stunning track after stunning track. Flawless production, a nose for what will hit us right in the feels and a few little surprises are all there on Chances. So, without further ado, let’s dig deeper to see what makes this EP really stand out.

Title track ‘Chances’ has that dreamy, nostalgic air we all love so much about the genre. Synths melt like butter and build up into heavier, punchy bass and crisp kicks, slowly fading out and teasing us with what’s to follow. Boom! No hanging around here, and we’re straight into the thick of things with ‘See You Again’, a track awash with beautiful reverb, a simple, yet captivating lead synth, and a surprisingly aggressive bass that pulls it all together perfectly. ‘License To Drive’ is a fun track featuring a catchy little melody, and a nice percussion arrangement with plenty of expertly positioned claps, and a tight and dominant kick drum that gives this track some real meat on the bones. ‘License To Drive’ does exactly what it says on the packaging and is just begging to be pumped out through your car windows.

Final track on the EP, ‘The Night Was Ours’ is my favourite, and boy does it take some wonderfully sneaky twists and turns! I love it when a track lulls you into a false sense of security and surprises you with something completely out of the blue, and De Lorra certainly delivers here. Starting off with beautiful, soaring synths and a lifting melody, we’re suddenly thrown into pounding, choppy bass that splinters away into an almost darksynth vibe that would be terrifying on its own, but which works so well with the melody swimming gently above it. Great stuff! In terms of production and sound, for me De Lorra stands up there with greats like Timecop1983 and FM-84. If you’re looking for beautifully arranged and produced synthwave that sneaks in something a little unexpected, check out ‘Chances’ and De Lorra’s other stunning releases on Bandcamp here.

Memphis Raines - The Enforcer

By Rick Shithouse

Memphis Raines's style of hugely movie influenced soundtrack synth work has manifested itself into The Enforcer EP and it's never sounded better. This producer in particular really 'gets' how to structure soundtrack pieces that illustrate scenes and emotions while keeping his synthscape heavily rooted in traditionally 80s aspects. Much like the master of this genre, Professor Zonic Zynth, Memphis Raines has really made his own full soundtrack for a movie that only exists in our imaginations. And though technically an EP this is definitely a full score in every sense.

The scene is set with the title track (originally teased nearly a year ago) and the music is built deliberately and slowly with aural texture bending around darkened structures; leading into brighter and lighter passages. There is a lovingly crafted humanity in the lead melody that is then used as a device to explore more dangerous scenarios. Memphis Raines has a real talent for understanding the necessary timings in soundtrack music like this and is never keen to show all his cards too early and paces his works in an exemplary manner.

This theme continues into the far more intimate yet also foreboding 'A Bullet For Memphis'. This slow motion collapse is full of poignancy and emotion. A serene beauty emanates from the chords as the colour slowly fades from the image and a hand lays motionless on the cold, hard concrete.

'Wall Of Fire' takes a new direction with a more Jeean Michel Jarre flavour attached to the proceedings in some elements and the percussion really does all the story telling. The melodies hang of the drums in a way that magnifies the drama spectacularly.

The more muted presentation of 'Desert Eagle' details the hot, barren wasteland where a man's resolve is all he has. A hugely inspirational synth lead brings to mind a Death Valley montage complete with ritual katas from the leading hero against a saturated orange sunset. They tried to kill him once; that's the last mistake they're going to make. Vengeance builds with satisfying determination through the melodies and you just can't help be uplifted by them.

The Enforcer finishes with the climactic slow burner 'Payback'. The plotting of the pieces to ensure revenge is exacted as quickly and as deadly as possible, rising with more and more power before exploding. Guitars shred with avenging force as a one man army rocks the syndicate to its foundations. Memphis Raines leaves no stone unturned and no justice undelivered with a final act of classically trained vendetta action.

The Enforcer EP is available for download on Memphis Raines Bandcamp page here at a name-your-own-price point. So dig deep and make sure The Enforcer gets the sequel it richly deserves!

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