Thursday, March 26, 2015


FM-84 - Los Angeles EP

By Matthew Neophytou


Having been released just a couple of weeks ago FM-84’s – Los Angeles has been making waves throughout the retro sphere with extreme good reason. The Scotsman resident of San Francisco, has compiled a love letter to the genre we all know and breath.

Throughout the album sunset glistened saxophones kiss the breezing drums cascaded by melodies, as most evident in in tracks such as 'Delorean' and 'Outatime' bridged by slow atmospherically cool tracks 'Nightdrive' and 'Los Angeles', ending in a synth driven number 'Max'.

The over all feel the EP gives me is that of fellow San Fran electronic outfit Tycho, in the sense that FM-84 takes what we relate to the retro genre, strips away the dramatic and by having the keen ear to keep the basics, has in fact given Los Angeles a fresh level of nostalgia.

FM-84's Los Angeles gets a very, very high recommendation from Synthetix.FM and is available at his Bandcamp on several digital formats here and be sure to also check out his latest single Mainframe here, a bit deeper outing but no less awesome.

Nightcrawler - Strange Shadows EP

By Jason Taylor

George Gold's experience as a art director is certainly the crux behind his latest offering of his alter ego, Nightcrawler. Inspired by the Italian Giallo and horror cinema of the 80's which if your interested in, will require some research on your behalf, because it's too much to discuss here in a paragraph or two. The album artwork is cleverly designed as a classic horror movie cover you'd expect to find at your local video store complete with name star casting.

The five original tracks cover all the sonic expression required for composing this style of music. Ominous, brooding textures and rhythms, lots of maniacal suspense and stabbing synths and screams. However, what George has created here really can be described as a work of art fit for some sort of audio art installation with patrons wandering around in weird bird masks. I get a sense that each track is meant to represent a specifically inspired horror scene in George's head and the compositions really takes you there.

I really felt like I was being stalked by something unseen and unclean and I was only seconds away from my annihilation, then transported to a watery dungeon while desperately trying to claw my way up the walls towards a pin prick of light. The stand out track here for me would be 'Calvary' (featuring Vincenzo Salvia). Like with all his other tracks, every sound has been chosen carefully to convey the exact message it serves, and every layer has been placed lovingly across the spectrum to allow a fantastic sense of space yet with a heavy anchor glueing it all cohesively together.

Naturally the remixes bring about the upbeat, four on the floor flavour to the record. The artists clearly were chosen for their different styles and what they would bring to the table in terms of reinterpreting the original material, and each stands alone in showcasing their respective remixing talents, but the stand out remix here for me is Péndulo Oculto (Umberto Remix). As dark as the original version was, this goes to a whole new level with huge booming percussion, sinister, hair on the edge of your neck synth leads building into a massive hurricane layered wall of sound. I think a good remix pays homage and respect to the original while attempting to engage the listener into checking out their own material, which Umberto has succeeded here for me. 

Strange Shadows comes highly recommended from Synthetix.FM and you can pick up a copy from the Nightcrawler Bandcamp page here.

Nitelight - Bliss-817

By Matthew Neophytou 

As we know there are many sub-genres of electronic music - especially within the retro corner - many producers dabble in mixing some together and achieve great audio heaven, whereas others on the other hand, end up the equivalent of a rewinding cassette tape, using an HB pencil.  

Nitelight is far from the latter, presenting us with their second outing Bliss-817, a well-crafted space journey of the experimental kind.

'Running From The Past' is an outrun track if I ever heard one with an underlying hint of Italo electro that pops up every once in awhile but not defining it at all. 'Terrace To The Stars'; saxophone, drums and a vocal breather held together based in a kick-beat and drums, what’s not to love?  

'Wormhole' is the merging of the last two tracks; outrun drum kicks with ethereal synths culminating in a rather cool guitar rift. 'Glitch In The Code' could sit very well within the soundtrack of a video game without it sound like it's trying to be there. Warped synths, energetic beats and an upbeat melody makes this a cool mash of electro.

 'The Rainy Season' is the reflective track off the album, whether you're a ship's computer, who just discovered sentient thoughts, or a crewmember looking out of the portal to the stars. Melodic piano and smooth sounds, ease the mind of a weary traveller. Ending on a cool note is 'Together Again' featuring a familiar vocal sample, slick beat and playful synths.

Nitelight presents Bliss-817, is a refreshing album that does not stay within an overall theme but rather uses it as a platform to create something enjoyable and cool space journey. Receiving a very high recommendation from Synthetix.FM, you can find it here on Bandcamp.

Dream Shore - Thoughts Of Choice

By Rick Shithouse

Following up the great tease maxisingle release of  the track Thoughts Of Choice from earlier this month, Dream Shore has just released his debut EP and it certainly rocks good and hard. The 'Thoughts Of Choice' single teased much of Dream Shore's inspirations and 80s influence but on the EP we're taken in new directions that add more depth and more sheen to what Dream Shore means.

The opening introductory piece sets the perfect stage for the song 'Memories'. Dream Shore instantly creates a nostalgic moods while also bringing in modern synthpop layers into the mix. What drives this undulating but somehow chaotic synthscape is the vocals and Dream Shore has some fantastic delivery an songwriting skills to back up the music.

The title track, 'Thoughts Of Choice' (featured previously on Quality Time With Shithouse on Synthetix Sundays) goes for a far more authentic 80s vibe that has only secondary modern touches and is very strong from beginning to end. This continues into the next track, 'Clear Eyes', which brings home even more emotive pop laden synth gold.

I've instantly been drawn to the phrasing and simplicity of Dream Shore's delivery yet also entranced by his honesty and presence within his voice. The styles and sounds just work magnificently well together in the realms of 80s inspired pop synth music. Could Dream Shore be the next Patrick Baker for the 80s inspired synth scene? From what I'm hearing on this EP; that's a definite possibility.

The EP finishes off with the magnificent instrumental track 'Motivation'. Dream Shore lets the music do all the talking in this experience and when you hear that lead hit you'll know exactly why. It's a real show case for Dream Shore's ability to rock the classic sounds and create wonderful visions and emotional responses sans vocals.

Dream Shore's Thoughts Of Choice EP is presented by Retro Promenade on their Bandcamp page here and is refreshing and engaging heavy dose of quality 80s synthpop. But more than that, this scene is crying out for vocal talent like this and I have a strong, hopeful feeling we'll be walking those delightful Dream Shore's in many different locales throughout 2015.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Searsly Spuhghetti

By Eddie Spuhghetti

"Are you sure you know which one you want?" was the final question asked by my mother when it came to my choosing a game to rent at the local video store.  We'd stand there, looking at all the colourful boxes with "Super Nintendo" labeled on them, trying to figure out which was the "right" one.  Some had clear boxes behind them, others didn't: usually the good ones didn't.  Although once in a while you could come across a hidden gem or just plain old good timing but for the most part, it was either take a chance with confidence or suffer the wrath of Mom's all-knowing sense of your indecisiveness.  When that's the case, I'd just go ask my neighbour to borrow a game that I'd often grab off him called Lethal Weapon.

Like many Action films at the time, Lethal Weapon 3 had a video-game tie-in and although most promotional work did include the numerical significance, none of the final products kept it.  The NES and GameBoy saw identical versions of a side-scrolling beat-em up, while the Amiga, Atari ST, C64 and DOS-based home-computers got a more traditional platformer.  One console port was made for the SNES (an unreleased Sega Master System port was in-development but never completed) and has since become a diamond-in-the-rough simply in terms of the music: it's unbelievably good for such a medicore game.  Composed by Dean Evans and Barry Leitch, the game's score was for the most part ported from the home computer version with a few unique tracks replacing others.  The title theme heard in the video below remains the same in each port but with noticeable differences due to system hardware.

Although no actual compositions from the films were used in the game (you don't hear the familiar Riggs jingle), it's impressive just how well Leitch and Evans nailed the tone of the series.  It's heroic, it's thrilling, and it works at getting you into the mood of being either cop racing against the clock to prevent an explosion, narcotics smuggling, Joe Pesci being killed or another explosion.  What I'm getting at is that the game can be repetitive in terms of gameplay; there's no awesome driving levels here, just jump and shoot your way to the end.  Besides level design, it's the music that does the best job of keeping things fresh to an extent as it differs per mission.  Or if it really gets too repetitive for you, just set your tv to mute and toss on Protector 101's L.A. Cop Duo EP!

Searsly Spuhghetti - Lethal Weapon (SNES & Amiga) from EddieSpuhghetti on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Craft Of Bart Graft's Art

By Rick Shithouse

What brings someone to write 80s inspired synth music? What is it, in 2015, that lights that spark to say in the musician's muse within: '80s synth, yes, that's for me'. This is something I often think about when listening to a producer for the first time. By picking out elements and themes sometimes it becomes wholly apparent what brought them to this music. Other times, the deeper one delves into the art of a producer the more the glowing soul of 80s love becomes apparent.

Sometimes this love is shrouded amid other influences, other times it takes time to be coerced and nurtured from a tiny glow to an uproarious fire over their musical journey and sometimes it can be a bright spark that blinds in supercharged neon brilliance only to then gradually fade and trail into a memory.

With a producer like Bart Graft, whom I know nothing about beyond his two Bandcamp releases, the path and story are still yet to be walked and written. One thing I do know is that this release grabbed me in a way that felt warm and familiar yet still exciting and full of promise. This self-titled eight track release contains many of the hallmarks I dearly love about 80s inspired synth music and mixes up a couple of things in ways I found very endearing. Bart Graft definitely knows his was around 80s melodies and has a superbly tuned ear for the right sounds too.

From track one you know what you're in for in quick time. The synthscape is clean, uncluttered and very authentic. You won't be hearing any modern production techniques on this record.  The instruments used are bright, colourful and energetic, lacquered in mirror like gloss that sparkles tantalisingly. Bart Graft, like many producer's has used Miami Vice as the base inspiration for this record from the apparent track titles and such but the music goes deeper than that.  'Gespaard's Poolside' brings to mind the musical magic of Synthetix.FM favourites like Spacious Sweep, Plaisance, Jacques 'James Baker' le Boulanger and Sternrekorder with its simply gorgeous 80s naïveté.  It is in the melodies that Bart Graft crafts other elements into the musical tapestry as his own hallmarks begin to show.

There is a wonderful amount of guile and mystery in many of the tracks on the album. Some pieces begin in a manner that alludes to all the cards being placed squarely on the table but all too often Graft then pulls a rabbit out of the hat mid-track to turn the experience in a great new direction. 'Rico's Vice' begins with a cascading waterfall of a synth melody that soon becomes and emotional deluge of beautiful 80s magic. Graft is never in a rush and allows his introductory passages to work in a very soundtrack oriented style that coerces the listener into hypnotising worlds, he also has a keen sense of how to give instruments the exact weight and force needed for maximum impact. The snare in 'Rico's Vice' is absolutely huge, but you never lose the details or mood of that synth waterfall melody. By keeping his selection of instruments to the necessities only a different kind of dynamic range comes into play.

'Marina Soiree' continues the sparkling seaside melodies with structures of beautiful synths being fabricated into dancing glass shards in the sunlight. On this piece an inference of Library styles come into play also, the feeling that this could happily be the background music in an after-school 80s kids TV show is impossible to ignore. Conversely, in 'Graft's Theme' he goes for a more silhouetted mood that hides the grandiose nature of the melody behind thin, muslin veils. Airs of romance rise in words not said but intentions felt.

The next track delivers the hit you've been waiting for in 'Chase On Brickell'. Graft hits the accelerator and rockets into the action with a totally rockin melody that is all suited up and ready for excitement. I absolutely love the introduction of the guitars in this track as the tone provides the perfect foil for the  synths. So much of this track reminds me of my favourite 80s TV soundtrack music and the likes of Mike Post and Pete Carpenter's classic work. The combination of that oh so wonderful naïveté and all out rockin action is intoxicating to the end.

The chase continues into the energetic 'Testarossa' and the guitars return with good measure. This track takes a few more cues from other directions and the midpoint change comes from nowhere to blow your mind in ways only the 80s knows how. A more reflective tone is created in the aptly titled 'Quayside Dreamin' 84'.  The melody meanders in a loose, dream like haze. Saturated colours of the sunset become overpowering and the rippling waters provide just the right amount of lull.

The album finishes by going deeper 'Into The Miami Sunset'. The melody is perfectly accented by the energetic percussion and sauntering bassline with an air of justice and triumph rising in the halting synths. The guitars make a welcome return, this time in a far more poignant manner that befits the arrangements to a T.

Over the course of this record one thing that I was constantly reminded of was how clearly Bart Graft dictated the moods to me of every piece of music using barest of elements and instruments. This in itself is testament to how totally 80s his melodies and progressions are and how each piece of music hangs entirely off that chrome 80s hook.

Bart Graft presents his self-titled album on his Bandcamp page here in the usual array of digital formats. This album comes very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM and sure promises that Bart Graft's 80s soul will be burning bright for a long time to come.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Soiree 80s

I'm honoured to be part of a fantastic new project on Radio Pure Gently  called Soiree 80s. This monthly programme features myself, Marko Maric, Jazzi Marzcat, DJ Spaz and Micky Dodds each having an hour to play our favourite 80s tracks. We've all got different loves of 80s sounds and the mix presents a very broad and varied representation of classic 80s music. Our first show is now available for  your delectation on Mixcloud.

Tune in for some great 80s rockin, and I'll be sure to promote the LIVE event on here next month and follow the Soiree 80s Facebook page here for news and further information.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Mythical, Time Traveling Vigilante

By James Mann

There are artists in the retro scene who without warning take the scene by storm. I mean, a full on assault and barrage of melodies, rhythms and above all, beauty. I had the luxury of coming across Time Traveler, the debut EP from the one and only Mythical Vigilante. This crime fighting time traveler who dons a samurai sword to swear and protect the innocent delivers pure bliss and awe in his latest release. Traversing through soundscapes of barren, destroyed land to magical places filled with wonder and amazement, this artist demonstrates an exceptional knowledge of synth work and crafted melodies in addition to syncopated rhythms that leave the listener astounded and wanting more. It can be difficult to transcend everything you stand for as an artist in just four tracks, but within a minute into just the first track, Mythical Vigilante casts you into his world, and you are now on a mission with this crime fighter sworn to protect those subjected to all wrongdoing and evil.

Light beams. A subterranean underworld. A scientist working late at night in montage fashion to build the cure to save the human race. Distinct images and feelings are evoked when I heard 'Receiving Psychic Messages,' the first track on the EP.  (However the true story behind this track lies in the history of the crime fighter himself) This gem opens up with an incredible combination of dark arpeggiated bass goodness and heavy kick, instantly transporting the listener to another world. Shortly after, delicate, beautiful melodies lay over the darkness and immediately create the blending that can be so difficult to attain; a balance of gorgeous, lush leads and a darkness driving the momentum. Mythical's skill and handiwork is truly astounding. It's apparent he has a innate and intuitive ear for progressions, build ups and making other worldly tracks.

'Time Traveler' is an epic journey and truly illustrates the complex journey of the Mythical Vigilante. His ability to tell a story through music is incredible, a tale of the warrior himself with feelings of magnificence and elegance. His now distinct dark edge starts the track off and quickly is filled with a pleasing Euro-esque melody that builds momentum into full force. Complex toms with impeccable production value coax the listener into a magical space. Inspiring synths build behind the lead and every space and sound is in full spectrum. It's evident the craft and passion behind this artist and track is real, and with Nemix on guitar, a monumental accompaniment to the track shreds across the landscape and climaxes into a crescendo like no other. This is perhaps my favorite track on the EP, as it explores the true depth and talent behind this artist.

'Many Rainbows' follows suit in 'Time Traveler,' and is a track originally performed by Argon Cowboy. Mythical Vigilante tears through the scenery with a poignant remix demonstrating his refined ability to craft another's song and make it his own. After hearing the original, I can hear the similarity in lead and mood, but MV adds a driving, robotic force behind it that makes this a truly an exceptional and original track. A somber, distant lead guides you with a refrain that will send chills up your spine. Again, those lush and complex melodies weave through the track and transport you to another dimension. I close my eyes and feel every intention of this artist, it's just too good.

'Crime Ridden Wasteland' opens with a feel of pure vintage 80's nostalgia, along the lines of soundtracks from 'Romancing the Stone' to 'Risky Business'. I hear the Tangerine Dream influence with beautiful glocks as the track gains momentum. The driving beat and bass take a turn to escort you straight into the wasteland that Mythical Vigilante strives so hard to cleanse. Dark and intense, the sections of this track are numerous. Mythical always keeps your interest with different breaks, beats, and leads. Not an easy feat, as he never comes across as trying too hard. It all seems effortless for this crime fighter.

I could never imagine an EP would evoke and elicit so many feelings about the state of the retro scene. There are so many artists who have their own unique approach, but without any hesitation I would say Mythical Vigilante is and will be a top contender in the scene. The skill level and execution are amazing and worthy of any synthficiando who enjoys music from the past, but blazing full speed into future sounds and arrangements.

As Mythical himself says, 'Inspiration comes mostly from films, new and old. I watch a lot of sci-fi, and horror, but two movies I've seen lately that were a huge influence in this EP were "The Guest", and "Maniac." I just wanted this EP to just sound huge." As far as future projects, he will continue with his current project and delve into others. 'I'm working on two projects at the moment. We don't have a name yet, but it's me on the synths and a vocalist named Nikko Hana who is also here in Seattle.' We look forward to your future journey and crime fighting abilities Mythical, and as any crime fighter would say, the work is never truly done.

Mythical Vigilante presents the Time Traveler EP on his Bandcamp page here and it comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.