Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Third Annual Synthetix.FM Year End Synthstravaganza!

By Rick Shithouse

As 2014 fades slowly off into the distance and the credits begin to roll on another year we begin the third annual celebration of 80s inspired synth music on Synthetix.FM with the now traditional Synthstravaganza Top 10s of 2014 and Synthetix.FM Ultimix Mixtape!

This past year has been a hugely successful year for all the denominations of 80s inspired synth music covered on Synthetix.FM as every genre has witnessed development, refinement and even more importantly, much creativity. I look back at the Synthstravaganza posts from last year and the year before and it really brings a smile to my face to be see all the imagination and new inspirations being heard today. I'm not going to get into a lot of kerfuffle about how rockin this year was because I could go on and on and on. Instead, I'd much prefer to let the music speak for itself and that's exactly what the Synthstravaganza is all about!

I'd like to remind you that all these top 10's are entirely based on my own predilections and personal tastes, these don't reflect sales or listens or anything other than what I personally have enjoyed the most this year. The 8 80s denominations are Soundtrack Synth, OutRun Synth, Dark Synth, Electro Funk Synth, Pop Synth, Italo Disco Synth, Synth Romance and Synth Wave and also an Electronica top 10 that covers tunes not essentially 80s in creation and direction.

There's two new additions to this year's top 10's, something I tried to do last year but there really wasn't enough product to draw from. This year, there was ample to draw from! So much in fact that the labouring and deciding over these two new top 10's took the longest time for me to be happy with. These new inclusions are the Top 10 EPs and Top 10 Albums of the year.

The EP and album experience have finally blossomed in the scene with tonnes of spectacular releases in both formats throughout the year. Some very special EP's came out this year that really redefined what can be captured in the short form and the full length album format exploded with loads of concept albums, long awaited debuts, stunning sophomore releases and spectacular new albums from further established producers. That most of these great releases came out in a physical format also shows just how much the scene has progressed in the last twelve months.

New talent has arrived and flourished. New, bold projects have been embarked upon. And that's just on Synthetix.FM! This year saw the opening up of this site to contributors who write reviews, provide other content and generally make Synthetix.FM more accurately representative of the music coming out. Coming into the second quarter of 2014 I was getting burned out enough to be ready to put Synthetix.FM on indefinite hiatus until I found a way to keep on top of things more easily. I then had the idea of inviting contributors and staff to the site which I look back now at as a wonderful decision. Synthetix.FM is about the music and the people who love it, and those people are the ones that I invite to be a part of the site in whatever way they'd like to.

Moving into next year who knows what new and exciting things will come up, but I know for one that the future of Synthetix.FM is in safe hands due to the many members of the community that have helped out and continue to do so. I'd like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart who has taken time out of their lives to help Synthetix.FM out this year. It means a lot to me and gives me a great deal of faith that what we do on here continues to be valuable and relevant.

On top of this, the fantastic job Marko Maric does on the Synthetix Sundays radio show on Radio Pure Gently is yet another part of the experience I'm honoured be a part of. The camaraderie and feeling of friendship the 80s inspired synth community affords is something I'm very grateful for and something I hope touches everyone in the scene.

But, enough teary eyed testaments. It is time to celebrate and that is something everyone into any of the denominations of 80s inspired synth music should be doing. 2014 was the best year yet for rockin tunes and cool vibes, and I have every faith that 2015 will continue even more so.

Top 10 Soundtrack Synth

1, Victory Theme - Myrone
2, Ninja Destiny - Cobra Copter
3, Mall - Proector 101
4, Don't Call Me Hero - OGRE
5, The World Is Gonna End Today - Tommy
6, China Sundown - LA Dreams
7, Frozen Soldiers - Python Blue & Jon Of The Shred
8, Manhattan Docks - Prof. Zonic Zynth
9, Rejects Of The Wasteland - Nightsatan
10, Leave With Us - 20SIX Hundred

Top 10 Electro Funk Synth

1, Breakazoid - Mitch Murder
 Hairspray - Cobra Copter
3, Walk Like A Boss - Robert Parker
4, Burning Desires - LA Dreams
5, Time Shock - STARFORCE & Action Jackson
6, DownTown - iamMANOLIS
7, Funk This Ship - Phaserland
8, Made In USSR - Pulse 80 & StereoSonic
9, Different Machine - Amazing Police
10, Break It Down - Phantom Ride

Top 10 OutRun Synth

1, Escape Without Control - Dana's Vision
2, Run For Home - Beckett
3, Throttle Up - Dynatron
4, Breaking The Bonds - 20SIX Hundred
5, It's Supercharged! - Botnit
6, PoWer Prostitute - NightStop
7, Crime Wave - Danger Mode
8, Dark Pursuit - Street Cleaner
9, Chrome Beach - KFDDA
10, Running Wild - Tokyo Rider

Top 10 Dark Synth

1, Cyberpolis - Noir Deco
2, Humans Are Such Easy Prey - Perturbator
3, Abandoned Streets (Pt II) - Jordan F
4, Giant Golden Naked Woman - Dan Terminus
5, L.A. Darkzone - Palm Highway Chase
6, Within - GosT
7, Dystopia - Nightcrawler (featuring Vincenzo Salvia)
8, Graveyard Shift - Dance With The Dead
9, The Centaurian Heist - Cluster Buster
10, Devil's Due - Street Cleaner

Top 10 Italo Disco Synth

1, Domenica - Vincenzo Salvia (featuring Giusi Telesca)
2, Same Road, Different Ways - Plaisance & Claudia Ortolani
3, I Wanna Love You Once Again - Ryan Paris
4, IL Stallone - Muscle
5, Time To Run - Supervox
6, My Energy World - Project A
7, Galatine - Mild Peril
8, Train Of My Youth - Olegris
9, Femme Fatale - James Baker
10, Knight Of The Disco - Garth Knight

Top 10 Synth Romance

1, Made A Wish - LA Dreams
2,  (Could It Be I'm) Falling In Love? - Sunglasses Kid
3, Waves - Timecop1983
4, Traces To Nowhere - Mitch Murder
5,  Sunset Stroll - Robert Parker
6,  Fury Of The Flame - RF Extreme
7, Summer Drive - Killstarr
8, Inhalator II Love Theme - Nightsatan
9, Soft Scene - Phaserland
10, After These Messages - Bishop Of Battle

Top 10 Synthwave

1, Fearless Generation - LA Dreams
2, Have You heard - Sebastian Gampl
3, High Performance - Mitch Murder
4, Let's Funk Tonight - Tommy
5, Datacorder - iamMANOLIS
6, Your Move - Phaserland
7, Dance All Night - Rain Sword
8, Los Canarreos - Digital Native Dance
9, Exclusive Coupe - Myrone
10, Excellent Day - Pumping Body

Top 10 Synth Pop

1, Radio - Le Cassette
2, One On One - Sebastian Gampl (featuring Tommy Reeve)
3, The Deepest Blue - Kristine
4,Midnight Steps - Phaserland (featuring Heidi)
5, Darling Dreamer - Sunglasses Kid (featuring The Boy & Sister Alma)
6, Neon Summer - Diamond Field (featuring Nina Yasmineh)
7, Lost In Your Eyes - Timecop1983 (featuring Per Rinaldo)
8, In Your Love - Droid Bishop
9, Stay Sexy - The Wizard Lady Bros
10, Hot In The City - Muscle

Top 10 Electronica

1, Dopamine (The Power Of Love - Robots With Rayguns
2, Dance Or Die - Starcadian
3, Smoke - Isaac Galvez
4, Stardust Orchestra - TZARR
5, S w e e t B e a c h - CVLTVRΣ
6, EXP003 - Emil Rottmayer
8, California Knight - Mr Vtage
9, I Am Dog - Fear Of Tigers
10, Cone Tuner - Klockhaus

Top 10 EPs of 2014

1, Atlantis - Vincenzo Salvia
2, Myrone - Myrone
3, The Pump - Muscle
4, Thunder In Paradise - Plaisance
5, Ninja Empire - Cobra Copter
6, Los Canarreos - Digital Native Dance
7, Matter - Mild Peril
8, Reverie - Dan Terminus
9, Full Throttle - Dynatron
10, Doom Fortress - Voyag3r

Top 10 Albums of 2014

1, Left To Our Own Devices - Le Cassette
2, Interceptor - Mitch Murder
3, Frequency Modulations - Tommy
4, Electric Atlantic - Phaserland
5, Dangerous Days - Perturbator
6, Insomnia - LA Dreams
7, Noir Deco - Noir Deco
8, 195 - OGRE
9, City Hunter - Sebastian Gampl
10, Beyond The Blue - Droid Bishop

And finally the 2014 Synthetix.FM Ultimix. A two and a half hour mix of the top four tracks from each genre. A soundtrack that I hope rocks 2014 deep into your musical subconscious!

That does us for things on Synthetix.FM until towards the end of January 2015. I'm not exactly sure what date the site will be back with new content at this stage but make sure you check back towards the end of the month with all the rockin new year action and in the meantime Synthetix Sundays will continue throughout this period, and I'm sure I'll be appearing on that every now and then as well as the special year end/year begins show next week! Be sure to follow Synthetix Sundays on Facebook here in the meantime to keep up to date with Marko's show.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Andrew B. White's 2014 Synthwave Awards

Top 10 2014 Synthwave Awards

By Andrew B. White

Wayfarer Shades Award for best synthwave-orientated website that wasn't Synthetix FM - Neon Vice

Cut Off Muscle Shirt Award for the most releases that wasn't Sellorekt/LA Dreams - Jupiter 8

Beta Video Cassette Award for best synthwave TV channel - Luigi Donatello

Catwoman Award for most travelled radio DJ - Marko Maric

Palm Tree Award for best Dana Jean Phoenix song of 2014 - 'Dreams' (with Timecop 1983)

Crockett's White Ferrari Award for best 80s artwork posts - Quick Sex FM

Cocktail Umbrella Award for country most likely to dominate the synthwave scene - Australia

Take My Breath Away Award for best synthwave romance - Vincenzo Salvia and Powder Slut

Ferris Bueller Award for sticking it to pirate music sites - Retro Promenade Class Action Compilation

Fast Times At Ridgemont High Pool Scene Award for most anticipated album of 2014 that didn't drop - Kristine's debut

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Matthew Neophytou's Top 10 Of 2014

It has been a great year for all things wave-inclined. For me, ever since my first toe-dipping with Synthwave back in the ‘00s when Kavinksy (BD: Before Drive) and Danger were the most prominent producers, and throughout the years the site has been bubbling up here and there, the call back to ‘80s music, supported by the era’s visual style and neatly polished with today’s production standards, has captured this boy’s imagination for all things retro-electro.

 New producers have emerged and established ones thrive, as the genre creeps ever so much closer to becoming a solidified staple of electronic music through films, video games and online media. There’s only one way this wave is riding, and it’s up. Please do join me while I take you on a journey of my top tracks that have stood out among them all for the year of 2014. Disclosure: it was a hard decision.

 Honorable mention: John Carpenter – Vortex

10. Dance With The Dead – Invader

The musical equivalent of a hardcore power workout, Dance with the Dead duo Justin Pointer and Tony Kim have carved themselves a rightful spot within the genre with their high-paced productions. With a couple album releases this year including Near Dark and Out of Body it looks like they are only getting started. Also worth mentioning is the remix of Kristine’s 'The Deepest Blue'.

9. Nowtro - Late Nights

 Nowtro hypnotises me with his mix of sneering synths and cascading melodies that leave one feeling a bit hot under the collar.

8. Jordan F - Take Flight

 A track that oozes sex appeal, it might just be the musical incarnation of James Dean on a hover board. Just when we got our heartbeat to a normal rate after the Freefall EP earlier this year, Jordan F dropped his LP Slipstream and man, it’s enough to turn this boy into full-on groupie mode.

7. She’s Not Real – Wine – Dark Sea

 From the debut album Not Real Sound by She’s Not Real, comes this piece of seductive electro that takes you on a progressive ride through Mullholland Dr, Bladerunner-style.

6. Waveshaper - Bright Shadows

 Anyone brave enough to remix Make Up and Vanity Set is worthy of a listen to in my books and with good reason too. Off the EP Sounds that Kill, Waveshaper produced a gem with this one, injecting tension-building organ synths into a groovy beat that’s like Phantom of the Opera, the Arcade Game.

5. Steinbeck - Solaris (Mind's Eye)

 So this one is pure electro ‘80s rock complete with the vocals that push you to karaoke this baby while driving down the highway.

4. Fitzzgerald – 1980

 Released only a couple of weeks ago, this song just stood out from the crowd with its high kicks and energetic pace. It’s just one of those beats that brings out the Prince in you. You know, you just want to bust those moves on the dance floor, be all fly and all. 1980 comes with a guarantee to lift one’s spirit, no doubt in my mind. Oh, and saxophone vibes are fully present.

3. LA Dreams - When I'm With You

 Hailing from the dreamscape that is Los Angeles, LA Dreams just keeps hitting home runs with each piece he produces. 'When I’m With You' just resonated with me, it’s catchy pop-infused sensibilities and awesome vocoder sampling make it a truly kick ass song to play when you are head-over-heals for a special someone or just wanna footloose it.

2. Makeup and Vanity Set - Results, Revision

 Discovered MVS when I was perusing the internet for my next fix of synth and I was smacked in the face with 'A Glowing Light, A Promise'. It is a love affair I do not want to end. Creating scores for film projects and video games, MVS has really perfected the art of creating the atmospheric synth-wave track. 'Results, Revision' is a just a cracking example, which just so happens to come from an upcoming film, EIDOLON

1. Thomas Barrandon - Outside The Cave

 I become giddy like a schoolgirl with a kitten whenever Thomas Barrandon appears on my screen, there is this sense of maturity and emotive connection with his material, which has many layers and creates its own story within the realm of the synth. Off the powerful album The New Born Between Mountain and Sea released in Feb, this year, 'Outside The Cave' is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard in a long time. An emotional journey of isolation and reflection, it leaves you with an unknowing hope for the future. The end kills me - which is why it’s my number one for the year. Thank you, Thomas Barrandon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Michael CA L's Top 10 Releases of 2014

Over the remainder of this week we'll be sharing favourite selections from 2014 from some of Synthetix.FM's staff writers. This will serve as a great way to look back at the year and revisit some favourite pieces of music as well as have some fun. This will climax this weekend with the 3rd Annual Synthetix.FM Synthstravaganza on here as well as on the final Synthetix Sundays episode for 2014.

Michael CA L's Top 10 Releases of 2014

By Michael CA L

DATAStream - Corruptopia

In Corruptopia, each track has something interesting about it, with the songs obviously having been carefully composed, arranged and produced by a person who understands synthesizer technology and, more importantly, understands and loves the sound, atmosphere and feel of 80s synths as they were found in film, video games and other media from the era. Looking at the cover art is one of the first things a person might do when introduced to this album, and from the 80s visual aesthetic it's easy to see that this is a story that involves that classic cyberpunk theme of 'high-tech and low-life', involving a future that's technologically rich but socially and ethically bankrupt.

Phaserland - Electric Atlantic

The entire release radiates a clear passion for synthesizer music through a variety of genres and does so with a dexterity, expressiveness, and purposeful forward-movement towards new ground. Electric Atlantic is a beautiful and powerful release.

Droid Bishop - Beyond the Blue

An album of spacious power that contains some of the best hooks of any synthwave release that came out in 2014. A glorious tribute to the interstellar side of the 80s, spliced with contemporary-sounding production and some fantastic vocal elements.

Le Cassette - Left to Our Own Devices

What the members of Le Cassette have put together in Left to Our Own Devices is their cultivated and refined knowledge of 80's sound, production, tone, rhythm, melody, lyricism, pop-hooks, delivery and atmosphere. The synthesized result is a collection of music - roughly two years in the making - that's interesting, catchy, complex, and likely what the band members (all devoted lovers of 80's music and culture) would want to hear when they're enjoying a Saturday night with good friends, good drink and good tunes.The band's enthusiasm, knowledge and clear understanding of what made 1980's synthesizer music great has turned Le Cassette's debut album into far more than the sum of its parts.

Jordan F - Slipstream

The Rosso Corsa label didn't release a tremendous amount of material in 2014, but what it does release is inevitably of very high quality. Jordan F's Slipstream is a radiant example of the sleek end of the synthwave spectrum. It's beautifully produced, polished and is, through-and-through a fantastic collection of brooding, intense 80's-inspired music.

Mitch Murder - Interceptor

There's reverence, respect and revelry in this album. It's a tribute to the feeling of what it was like to grow up in the 80's and to be under the spell of the unforgettable media the era produced.

Timecop1983 - Journeys

A true aficionado of the nostalgic, atmospheric and cinematic side of the 80's, Timecop1983's Journeys is a beautiful release, brimming with fantastic guest appearances and tinged with tones that are subtly melancholic, youthfully energetic, and mysteriously dreamlike.

Haüer - Esperbyte

If there has to be a sequel to Ridley Scott's 1982 masterpiece Blade Runner (I'd rather there wasn't, but that's an argument for another time) and Vangelis was unavailable to take on the scoring duties, I'd prefer that Haüer was in charge of the music.
Enough said.

Wulf - The Summer EP

Excellently produced and very well-composed synthwave tunes that ride the "beaches, sunsets and fast cars" theme to heights that haven't been reached since Miami Nights 1984 virtually defined (or at the very least refined) that now-classic Synthwave trope. It's some of the most fun, well-put-together, mid/fast-paced synthwave released in 2014, and it's destined to become one of my go-to albums for joy riding on warm summer days and nights.

The Dust Collective - Synthia

A new producer on the 80's-inspired scene, The Dust Collective released his debut album Synthia as a labour of love and as his first foray into creating 80's-inspired, synth-based music. It has all the attributes of a producer who grew up in the 80's and loved the variety of sounds and atmospheres that sprang from the era. I knew Dust Collective was making great music that appealed to my synthwave sensibilities the moment I first heard his beautifully textured and melodic tracks on Soundcloud. I'm still stunned hearing them now, but with the release of Synthia, there was the added bonus of having those gorgeous tracks fully realized and polished to perfection, selected and collected together with a bunch of fantastic new tracks that I hadn't heard before.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dance With The Dead Send The Signal

By Jerry Herrera

Looking back on Dance with the Dead’s discography, and having had the pleasure of reviewing almost all of their albums, it sinks in just how adept they are at taking us to synth’s darkest corners and most bizarre dimensions. Some producers give us written backstory and other ancillary information to go with their music, just so we know exactly where we’re supposed to be thematically.  DWTD doesn’t really do that, instead they craft darkness and drama almost exclusively with their music. Send The Signal is yet another journey into the weird, another descent into madness, another tale of terror told through the medium of synth.

The intro track, 'They’re Here' is both shimmering sci-fi synth and pulsating horror bass, arriving at a place that is cold and ominous, like a clear winter’s sky. The theme of Send The Signal becomes apparent right away:  We are not star gazing in wonder, we are looking upward in fear.

'Poison' drops the listener directly in the middle of what I love about DWTD and is a perfect example of their overall style.  Heavy guitars and heavy synths rule this track, which escalates further and further in intensity until we are carried away by a terrifying melody. Fans of ‘50s sci-fi will appreciate the theremin-esque spookiness of it. Indeed, we are being taken to strange places, abducted perhaps.

'Not of this Earth' and 'Spacewalk' continue the stampede of the growling, grating synth juggernaut that is DWTD.  Throughout the year I’ve heard a lot of similar horror synth with similar basslines that I would describe as grating, but in a negative this-is-kind-of-annoying way. I am not aware of the production process nor do I have the words to describe it, but DWTD make their basslines sound like the purring of an engine or the growling of a beast, as opposed to the sputtering of a dirt bike. It’s this level of, shall we say, atmospheric awareness, that sets them apart.

Up next is 'Signals' which strays more into OutRun territory with some lighter synth work and echoed toms and some fist pumping snares. A Strange synth melody dances with an absolutely rocking guitar solo that’s over a bit too soon but I promise you will be yelling “Hell Yeah!” at your speakers.  'Take Me There' steps back a little for some tense drama building before breaking into more guitar teased mid tempo OutRun.  As with the previous track, there is a late blossom of sci fi terror/beauty that is absolutely arresting.

For the final act in their tale, 'Nightdrive' serves as a slower palette cleanser that doesn’t let up on any of the atmosphere but after spending the past few tracks in a state of breathlessness it’s nice to have a moment with something layered and reflective. It’s a track that lets us ask ourselves if what we witnessed was real or not, if the fire in the sky was just our minds playing tricks on us, if the faceless men who came to visit were just products of our own nightmares.

Whatever the answers are, what we are left with is yet another master stroke from Dance With The Dead. I am so proud of and pleased with these guys because they set the bar high for themselves and not only do they consistently meet our expectations with each release, they take us in different and believable narrative directions each and every time.  From the halls of the dead, to the depths of the ocean, and now to dizzying heights in the clutches of malevolent, otherworldly creatures, I have gone to many places with Dance with the Dead, and I will continue to follow them into whatever twisted nightmares they travel to next.

Dance with the Dead presents Send The Signal, which is available at their Bandcamp page here and this release comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.