Saturday, December 20, 2014

Synthetix Sundays

Synthetix Sundays keeps on rockin through the holidays with another kick arse show!

Lined up this week are interviews with Valkyrie 1984, TCR, Hello Meteor and Fantastisizer!!

There won't be a Quality Time With Shithouse  this week, but I'll return for my final show of 2014 next weekend with a special Synthstravaganza session. Marko will still be joined by Paul 'Dress 2 Kill' Daly, for the usual hijinks and good time rock'n'roll.

The festive giveaways continue with download codes for the following albums up for grabs:

Blazestation - Uncompiled
Glitch Black - Interdimensional
 Lachi James - Paradise Lost
Fantastisizer - No Way Back
Tape Loader - Space Travel
Hello Meteor - Respect your Ghosts!!

And even more to be announced during the show!

Tune into Synthetix Sundays and you're sure to be a winner!

The rockin starts at 9am U.S EST for all of Synthetix Sundays' LIVE action on Radio Pure Gently. And you can catch up with us back here on Monday for a fully downloadable digital copy of the live show.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Hide And Sequence - Resurrection

By Jazzi Marzcat

Getting dumped sucks.  Getting dumped into a garbage dump sucks even worse.  That's how Snow, an android girl, wakes up to find herself, abandoned like a piece of scarp metal by her  owner, Jax.  This is the saga told by music producer Jason Taylor,  known as Hide and Sequence, of Perth, Australia. In his albums of incredibly addictive, and awesome electronic music, The Fall, and the currently released Resurrection.  While this reviews focuses on the seven songs of the newer album Resurrection, I strongly urge all listeners to also check out the first album, where the story begins.  Available on Dark Horse Audio's bandcamp for a "Name-your-own" price, there's no excuse not too! So check it out here.

The song 'Forever' from the first album is highly recommended to be heard, with it's lean towards early 90s synth melodies and beats, reminiscent like that of the band Cause & Effect, and their songs of that time. Most of Hide and Sequence's music does have more modern elements to it than 80s analog synthesizers, but the allure of the science fiction storytelling brings it back to that nostalgic feeling.

Now, unlike the first album, where Snow questions her abandonment, the second album Resurrection uncovers some shocking revelations that she was supposed to have been destroyed, as told in the song 'Skyfall'.  While the odds seem against Snow, the music and lyrics in Resurrection, portray her building strength, and courage.  Snow doesn't lay down and die, but starts to defend her existence.

The title track of the album states this fully without doubt.  A steadfast beat, steady bass, and a strong melody carry lyrics such as "I would rather die. . . in my resurrection", showing Snow's fighting spirit.  The songs 'Fragments' and 'Perfect Lie' continue Snow's confrontations of not only against her owner for abandoning her, but also towards the discrimination that Snow is feeling from the society that she is living in, which is evident in the songs 'Skyfall', and 'RX-1000'.  

'Fragments' has some cool bendy basses and swirling melodies, and the strong, powerful lyrics, "I want to be more than I was built to be". 'Perfect Lie' has a beautiful arpeggio melody, and nice dance-able beat, bringing a more upbeat-ness to the album, although with the highly confrontational lyrics, "You should have destroyed". This shows Snow is ready for the fight.

'My Darkest Fear', my favorite song of the album, has the best production from beginning to end.  Starting out with a symphonic string lead, the hauntingly beautiful melody begins to pick up pace with the lyrics, until a catchy beat hooks in the listener with cool percussion, and layers of synth melodies.  The album closes with the song "Breathe", that leaves us on a bit of a cliff hanger. The word "breathe" is repeated over and over again by our heroine Snow, as the song evokes the feeling of the of her will to stay alive.

An effective change in the new album, Hide and Sequence has expanded his storytelling by having different characters continuing the story in various songs, besides Snow's own soliloquies, (which are represented by vocals done through a vocoder).  For example, with the first song, 'Skyfall', it starts off with a fast pace arpeggio bass and a crescendo melody, to be followed up by a female computer voice telling Snow that she is doomed for termination. The music and the voice over, enhances the intensity of Snow realizing the deadly depth of her situation. We also finally hear Jax, her owner, and his callus disregard for her survival and search for him, in the song 'Fragments', as if a phone call of his is being overheard.

Lastly in the song 'RX-1000', a female news reporter voice, tells of a robot girl's search for her owner, over a cold, more industrial sounding synth melody.   Just shows how much the music, the lyrics, and the vocals are all perfectly matched on this album.   Also, if it's hard to follow the vocoder vocals,  you can check out the lyrics here.

Hide and Sequence has gone through lengthy efforts to create a believable world, and relatable characters not only through his music, but also with the visuals of the highly impacting artwork by Mariana Britto, and videos directed by himself.  A lone girl walking into a car's headlights is the cover we see on the first album The Fall, showing the desperation of Snow's waking into her dire situation.

However, for Resurrection, we see the same girl is being lifted into the sky, her ascension into a new life by her own determination, regardless of the threats against her.  This all breathes more life into the accompanying music, that is so fitting to the futuristic scenes depicted in the artwork.  You can find videos for some of the songs that make the story even more believable, here.

With a promise of third album in the works, Hide and Sequence will be a name to follow, especially to find out what happens to Snow, the abandoned android girl.  Available through Werkstatt Recordings, you can get the digital download here. As of the writing of this review, there are still some cassette tapes available to order also.  Resurrection is a very highly recommended release!!

Renz Wilde - Program EP

By Jerry Herrera

Renz Wilde’s latest EP, Program, brings us a more cerebral kind of nostalgia.  Instead of exploring the trodden paths of video game and film inspiration, RW takes us back to a time when we were on the verge of a technology explosion.  Now it seems strange to be “technophobic” but people were apprehensive about the idea of e-mail or being constantly wired into a global network at one time.  Rightfully so, perhaps?  Where does technology end and humanity begin if we keep giving way to machines?  Maybe we ourselves are merely ones and zeroes in some greater program.

This is a mid-tempo sci-fi cruise, and while there is a lot of familiar synth work happening here, there is also a very interesting, somewhat cold Kraftwerk vibe going on that fits the theme of the EP perfectly.  In four tracks Renz Wilde builds a world on the verge of the future, and all the wonder and fear that brings.

The title track and 'Broken Satellite' are the strongest tracks on the EP in my opinion, because they best represent the Kraftwerk-esque sound of machine music made by a machine artist.  'Candy Cane Express' does exhibit a strange warmth in its melody, signalling that all humanity is not lost.  I should also add that there is an option to purchase the Program EP with two beautiful posters of the album artwork.  For those of us clamoring for more synth related merchandise, this is a welcome stroke of marketing. You can pick up a copy of this great EP form Retro Promenade's Bandcamp here.

Maxthor - Black Fire

By JamesTheSuperGeek

Italo Disco is back and Maxthor utilises it to full affect with his debut EP, Black Fire. The EP has quite an authentic 80s vibe and creates a powerful synthscape. Full of emotive lyrics, iconic 80s basslines, synth leads and guitar solos, this album proves to be both accurate to the 80s and a quite affecting EP. Best songs on this album would have to be 'Black Fire' and 'Will You Wait'.

The EP opens with 'Black Fire', which is a cool, danceable and powerful track that'll be sure to get you moving. Next is 'Will You Wait' which is an arpergio driven track with quite a romantic and sombre, sultry vibe, with a glorious guitar lead which makes its presence known early, then retreats to the background somewhat, to make a return later with an powerful solo. Following is 'Colony', another danceable track with allot of heart and emotion, with lush synth leads that are guaranteed to get you moving.

'Flamingos' starts off slow but builds strength over the course of the song and still retains the same power and emotion of the previous tracks. The last song of the EP is 'Just Take Me Home', an Italo Disco interpretation of the song 'Take Me Home' by Henry Saiz. Maxthors rendition does it's own thing, adding lyrics to a mostly instrumental song which effectively compliments the original whilst still being respectful.

Maxthor's Black Fire is definitely worth checking out. From lush synth leads, emotive vocals, and awesome guitar's, Maxthor captures the sound and vibes of Italo Disco. The album is available at a name-your-own-price on Future City Records' Bandcamp here and I would definitely recommend giving it a listen. Also all proceeds will be going towards the recording of Maxthor's next release, so if you like what you hear show your support. Do yourself a favour and indulge in some quality Italo Disco reinvented courtesy of Maxthor.

Fantastisizer - No Way Back

By Rick Shithouse

One of my favourite new talents of 2013 is back with his second EP for this year, it's Fantastisizer with No Way Back. The Fantastisizer synthscape has always been one I find particularly involving. The emotionally driven melodies are always arranged with great care and delicate nuances are artfully developed. On No Way Back we're taken to new levels of synthual intimacy courtesy of Fantastisizer's imagination and this time we get to experience some of the darker colours in his palette.

Opting for open, spatial vistas of sound, Fantastisizer gives epic, background to his intimately instrumental love poems. The opening piece 'Rendez-Vous' keeps a tension in the air with cutting details kept in sharp focus against a marauding background, the follow up 'Mirror Of You' instead lolls buoyantly on seas of swirling synths with fragile melodies playing of the reflections of the clouds.

The darker side of Fantastisizer's psyche comes into view again in the title track which brings passion and fear together amid a swell of synthual nostalgia. These darker tones definitely give a depth to the experience that eschews the surface gloss and betrays a far greater undercurrent of the unknown, beautifully personified by 'The Stranger'.

The final piece resonates with much more positivity albeit in against a backdrop of misty adversity. The brevity of the piece keeps the thought succinct, however with 'See You There' finishing on a wonderfully uplifting note.

Fantastisizer's new EP is another fascinating work of 80s inspired sounds that always feel personal and balanced with the good and bad within us all. A delicate balance is where No Way Back is poised and it will keep you on this knife-edge throughout. You can pick up a copy on Fantastisizer's Bandcamp page here, which I highly advise you do as soon as possible.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

20SIX Hundred Goes To The Next Level

By Chris 'Python Blue' Day

I may be a synthwave musician, but I am also a soundtrack composer wannabe. While the synthwave genre by definition claims to be inspired by 80s soundtracks, among other retro music, any such inspiration seems to usually become heavily overshadowed by the sounds of the 80s pop charts.

That being said, a tip of my hat goes to 20SIX Hundred with his latest release, The Next Level. While such a title can be a clever promotion gimmick, the backstory for this work suggests otherwise. The album as a whole is focused on a dark future, with occasional narrations to help develop the story for the listener further in which we abandon planet Earth and humanity with it, and the gapless compositions are a nice way to tie everything together. 

The album begins with a surprisingly light-hearted intro instrumental. 'Meditation Phase' does set the stage in many ways with lots of slow flanging synthesizers. A lead melody kicks in with a swelling sound that only further enforces the impression of a Vangelis soundtrack.

The title track, however, begins to give the album a darker tone. The voiceover makes it clear that humanity is done for on Earth, and once the message is made clear, we begin to hear the beats of typical synthwave while still retaining a spacious atmosphere.

'Last Chance' carries on the voiceover alongside a very spooky piano-like synth. The inhuman voice, as spooky as it sounds with its tone and some of its words, is trying to get us out of the situation we are faced with, leading to an excellent buildup to the chase music that defines Final Exit'.

'Breaking the Bonds' is great buildup music. A subtle voice sample of spaceship crew preparing for launch is an excellent touch, as is the use of cinematic percussion, as the listeners attempt to disengage with their humanity.

'To Advance Beyond' contains one of the creepiest intros I’ve ever heard. It’s not until the rhythm guitar and synth bass kick in that I’m assured that this fits in with the overall theme of the album, and it’s worth waiting for. A bittersweet melody is developed alongside a haunting choir as we progress through outer space.

'Away Team' is a more downtempo breather for the listeners. The lead guitar is a nice touch, and it’s nice to hear complex articulations without the guitarist getting carried away in the moment with the playing.

In a similar vein is the follow up track, 'Higher Source'. This track, however, takes the slower pace even further, replacing guitars with a tenor saxophone and electric pianos, giving a nice jazzy intermission to the work as a whole.

We return to the slightly more aggressive tone of the overall album with 'Section 6'. The acoustic piano gives a nice creepy sound to the beginning, informing the listener right away that where we are is not exactly a safe place.

'Boarding Pass' takes a different rhythmic twist to the Nu-Disco sound that colors most synthwave, settling for a sound more reminiscent of electro breakbeat. Said rhythm is performed alongside another light-hearted, Vangelis-esque melody.

Things get even more interesting with 'Metamorphosis'. The resonant sound of the synth bass and its variable brightness really can give the impression of something of no fixed shape, a fitting interpretation for a track named after the Greek word for changing form.

Things are reaching a climax with 'Meeting Place', a thought that is made particularly clear through the return of a cinematic sound. Orchestral percussion and choir, with eventual electric guitar, plays very well this time around with the retro space synthesizers.

A shame that what I felt was the best track, 'Leave With Us', was the last original track in the album. This track especially brings new meaning to retrowave soundtracks, and makes me thankful that I’m not the only synthwaver dedicated to the sound of soundtracks as well. The outro is particularly a nice touch: abandoning drum machines in favor of cinematic percussion, and the voiceover returns to us one final time telling Earth that they need to leave or die off.

The final two tracks in this album are remixes of 'Final Exit' and 'The Next Level', both remixed by CTRL-ALT-DSTRY. While I regret to say I hadn’t heard of this particular producer before, they prove themselves top-notch with their interpretations of 20SIX Hundred’s concept.

20SIX Hundred has The Next Level available on his Bandcamp page here, complete with a CD edition along with the usual digital download formats. Overall, this is an excellent listen for any fans of retro soundtracks, and is without a doubt a Synthetix Reference Experience due to the cohesiveness of the ideas that are realised so vividly and the creativity and vision 20SIX Hundred has explored in each track.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Synthetix Sundays

Marko is finally back from his U.S. Synthwave road trip and rockin harder than ever with a massive return Synthetix Sundays right on time for your holiday season celebrations!

On this weeks show Marko climbs down the chimney and talks turkey with Hide & Sequence, Phantom Ride, OGRE and Phaserland! A veritable banquet of synth delicacies and rockin good cheer.

There are also the regular family favourite segments from the assorted holiday nut selections: Paul 'Dress2Kill' Daly and Rick 'Syntha Claus' Shithouse in Quality Time With Shithouse!!

Giving out the love and sharing that magical time of year there are also incredible exclusives to air from ToyoTomi, Phantom Ride, OGRE, Street Cleaner and Who Ha! Hear them first on Synthetix Sundays!

The presents don't stop there though as Marko digs deep into his sack full of love with download codes to give away for the following albums:

20SIX Hundred - The Next Level
OGRE - 195
Hide & Sequence - Resurrection
and I also have a Droid Sector Decay - Romance Breeds Jazz CD to give away for one lucky listener.

It's a gargantuan five and a half hour celebration of Marko's best rockin yet!
You really don't want to miss this; otherwise your holidays will be rubbish!

The rockin starts at 9am U.S EST, 1 hour earlier than usual for all of Synthetix Sundays' LIVE action on Radio Pure Gently. And you can catch up with us back here on Monday for a fully downloadable digital copy of the live show as well as the Quality Time With Shithouse free, purchasable and feature tracks to ensure the best of times are rockin with you all festive season long.

Quality Time With Shithouse Free, Purchasable and Feature tracks:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Phaserland's Electric Atlantic

By Michael CA L

I first encountered Phaserland's music when Future City Records released their fourth compilation album in late 2013. After hearing the tightly produced 'China Silver and Gold' - a highlight track on the comp, full of the funk-rock overtones and atmospheric synthesizer undertones that would become a signature Phaserland aesthetic - I was eager to hear more. Two months later, Phaserland (alternately known as Ross Trinkaus) released his first full-length album Night Talk in Paradise on Wave Runner Records, and from that point I knew that the retro synth scene had a new powerhouse producer on its hands.

With the coming of Phaserland's latest album Electric Atlantic, Trinkaus expands the themes and sounds of the first album and carries them beyond anything lovers of the synth could have possibly imagined. The album is a sweet blend of intricately-arranged, synth-centered, 80s-influenced music with a strong emphasis on funk and a deep focus on complex rhythms, arrangements and pop hooks. It blends the pumping, post-disco sounds and vocals of the dance-pop genre with the best that the synth funk genre has to offer.

It digs deep into an 80s-lover's sense of nostalgia and is a true successor to what I consider some of the 80's greatest pop moments, including those found on Scritti Politti's Cupid & Psyche 85, Prince's Purple Rain and Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814. Like the aforementioned, Electric Atlantic makes fantastic use of classic synthesizer technology, but the brilliance of it truly explodes from the speakers as a result of its union with Trinkaus' additional mastery of modern software and hardware. The end result is an album that's unique, inspired and fully-realized like nothing I've heard within any retro-inspired genres. The album is its own species altogether, and it's a beautiful beast to behold.

'Midnight Steps' (Featuring Heidi)

The album starts with 'Midnight Steps', a song featuring Portugal's Heidi Gubbins. Heidi, a vocalist who previously showcased her dance-pop vocal talents on Bixby Snyder's 'Moon & Back' single, will no doubt enjoy some much-deserved exposure due to her fantastic performance on this track. The listener is instantly keyed into the production, which is as gorgeously crisp as the composition is complex.

The vocals and lyrics are, like the best dance-pop, exciting and energetic and also seductive and alluring, with the classic themes of dance floor desire and uninhibited passion pressing against the listener's ear as partners might press against each other under the shimmering lights of a music club. In addition to having powerful hooks and an irresistible pop aesthetic, the song is also beautifully arranged.

Whereas a seasoned aficionado might be able to anticipate the changes in a more traditional dance-pop track as it moves from verse to chorus, with Phaserland you don't know quite what to expect as this song steps lightly from one shifting hook to another. It's a multi-layered and multi-faceted song that encouraged me as an enthusiast of complex pop music to think about the sometimes subtle differences between beauty and elegance.

'Covert Action' (Featuring Sunglasses Kid)

With 'Covert Action', Sunglasses Kid brings his flair for capturing the exuberant, fun-loving side of the 80s, including elements of 80s film soundtracks and the dramatic teen comedy. Perfectly suited to its title, 'Covert Action' has a vibe to it that's at once energetic, light-hearted and fast-paced while at the same time being suggestive of the best 80s espionage, cop or teenage escape-from-detention comedies that we know and love.

It's a song that plays like the tight, energetic score to a slick 80s teen comedy or that of an action blockbuster that composer Harold Faltermeyer might have dreamed up. And like the best action-comedies of that era, the suspense elements are never too heavy in 'Covert Action' to stop it from having an intensely fun and charismatically sleek appeal.

'Electric Atlantic' (Featuring Nikki Dodds)

Warm keyboard chords open the song, followed by thumping 4/4 drums and a huge guitar riff. London-based vocalist Nikki Dodds (a prominent and poignant presence on this album, contributing vocals to three of the tracks without mentioning the 'Hot Stunner' remix that concludes the release) delivers a performance here that has swagger, style and radiates personality.

Her voice, both glass-smooth and at the same time licked by a nightclub smokiness, adds a sense of liveliness and heart to the track and makes the already potent groove all the more vital-sounding and energetic. It's a vibrant dance-pop tune that's bursting with bright melodies and guitar licks, with energetic percussive elements that reinforce it to make it a highlight on the album.

'Sushi on the Monorail'

If you're like me, you know of certain songs that aren't remarkably brief in length but seem to defy the rules of time, finishing quicker than their real-time length would have suggested they would. At just over three minutes in length, 'Sushi on the Monorail' isn't especially brief, but because of its intricate arrangement, enjoyable theme of warmly-accommodated transportation, and its video game-esque qualities, it's the kind of track that injects truth into the cliché expression "getting there is half the fun".

The song maintains the charismatic warmth and vitality of the previous tracks as it escorts the listener via monorail from one side of the city to the other. It's almost like an interlude, taking the listener via monorail from an evening spent at the nightclub dancing and revelling to songs such as the previous three. As the song ends, so does the journey. The doors open and the listener steps out into a night air that's distinctly different than what was felt at the start of the journey. Gone are the bright lights and warmth of the city heart. The rider has now entered a different part of the city, this one containing darkened streets, abandoned factories and an industrialized element to it.

'Beyond the Factory'

From the opening moments of 'Beyond the Factory', the listener knows that the bright, shining lights and warm, electric-neon glow of the entertainment district and the city's warm heart have been left behind. The warm vibes and party-atmosphere behind, with this departure clearly indicated by a reverberating crash of steel against steel that echoes through the empty streets. The quiet trickle of dirty waste water can be heard as it flows from a gutter down into a drain and underneath the city, and there's a haunting, descending voice pad that speaks of unseen danger and mysterious inhabitants in this isolated end of the city. An electric howl can be heard that speaks of anger, pain and isolation. This is a dangerous and haunted place.

There's a glimmer of hope, however, as a complex, authoritative synth lead enters the mix and fights its way through the gloom, reaching for a place that offers sanctuary to the traveller in this weary and broken sector of the metropolis. As the song progresses, a fleet-footed guitar accompaniment co-mingles with the synth and the two make a break for the warmly lit bar sign that hangs a couple of city blocks away. The bar's name? 'Funk This Ship'.

'Funk This Ship'

Welcome to a source of warmth and vibrancy that the listener hasn't felt since stepping out into the night after riding the Electric Atlantic Monorail. 'Funk This Ship' is the sound of a Chicago after-hours bar where the talented mingle with the heartbroken and the result is an emotive and soulful funky vibe that inspires drinks to be poured and sorrows to be drowned in them.

Electric piano and a sharp synth lead duel in this track as it moves towards its conclusion, with an electric guitar entering the conversation as the bar's inhabitants drink in the sound and the feeling of it all towards a state of funk bliss.

'Pool Lights' (Featuring Sebastian Gampl)

An album favourite and one of the first glimpses into Phaserland's monumental new full-length album that listeners got a chance to hear via SoundCloud. There's a reason why Phaserland decided to use this track as a teaser to show his listeners...

Munich-based producer Sebastian Gampl has proven himself to be adept, just like Phaserland, at composing intricate, complex, detailed and oh-so beautifully synth-heavy arrangements, and the amalgamation of these two composers in a collaborative effort results in one of 2014's best, most beautiful and enticing tracks.

It's got powerful grooves that are propelled by tight drums and duelling basses - one tin-sounding and slap-styled, the other a low-pulsing synth bass that rumbles deep in the brain. There are parts to this song that hum and thump and others that ride a laid-back groove that is both elegant and sophisticated. The song is pure pleasure to hear and one of the album's best tracks.

'Space Command' co-written by Starforce

Starforce, the king of synthwave collaborations, brings a signature sound to this track, complete with a propulsive 4/4 beat and a future-brass synth melody that speaks of distant worlds and adventurous undertakings beyond space and time. It's science-fiction to the core, and despite not really aligning itself too closely to the rest of the album, it's a powerful song that's enjoyable as a stand alone.

It's a reminder that this is not exclusively a journey on the Electric Atlantic Monorail towards all its interconnected stops, and it's a joyful celebration of diversity of styles and individuals, bound together by common love of the synthesizer and by profound talent within the increasingly-broad synthwave genre.

'Your Move'

This banger of a song song begins with rock drums and an aggressive, overdriven guitar fade-in that would make Billy Idol jealous. The guitar soon gives way to an arpeggiated synth extravaganza and expands into a song that's a co-mingling of the two elements together. The result is a track that battles 'Covert Action' for supremacy as the best montage sequence you wish you'd heard in your favourite 80s film score back 30 years ago.

It's the sound of a training session before the big fight or of outcast teenagers getting ready to do battle in the streets against a rival gang, with killer moves on display and special moves being polished by the best of the best. Shredding, fearless and imposing guitar is in one corner of the ring and funky, flashy, skilfully coordinated synth is in the other. Both are legendary superstars within the Electric Atlantic arena.

'Hot Stunner' (Featuring Nikki Dodds)

Here we have another dance-pop track that features the exquisite vocal talents of Nikki Dodds. 'Hot Stunner' focuses on the warmth and casual, dressed-down vibes of summertime flings and fun, with lyrics like "We cruise, driving so fast, embracing the sunlight" coaxing the listener to drop the teenage angst routine and start appreciating the here and now a little bit more.

The song is a breezy homage to the carefree moments of life and the simple yet undeniably enjoyable pleasures offered by things like the sensation of sunshine on bare skin or cruising fast on winding, coastal roads.

'Hot Stunner' moves fast and has a bounce to it. It makes a person want to forget about the melodrama that often goes hand-in-hand with the overly-cerebral for just a little while. It encourages you to streamline your focus. To simplify. To zero in on the simple pleasures in life for just a few minutes of earth-bound ecstasy. Nikki Dodds, in that smoky-slick, commanding and shrewd voice of wisdom, believes you deserve it, even if your parents just don't understand you.

'Fourth Dimension' (Featuring Timecop1983)

Beginning with a sound clip from the legendary 1976 science fiction film Logan's Run, 'Fourth Dimension' (which features the prolific master of nostalgia-laced synthwave Timecop1983 himself) is the soundtrack to a trip down memory lane. The aforementioned film is a perfect example of the retro-futurism that is created when a film about a far-away future becomes weathered and dated. Instead of looking, as it was perhaps originally intended to, like an awesome glimpse into our world of the distant tomorrow, it becomes a wonderfully archaic glimpse at alternate history or timeline, where the futuristic looks vintage.

Logan's Run, as with many other media and cultural artefacts from times gone by, features a future that looks like yesterday. Or perhaps, like so many fashion trends and techno-fads, everything comes full circle and the classic becomes cutting edge once again, regaining a value that wasn't seen or appreciated the first time around. Retro culture, synthwave and 80's inspired music in general are a powerful example of this. Our love of the 80's era coaxes us to look at it from a fresh perspective and hold it in our hands again, except we brush it off, clean it up, reshape and retouch what we want, and maintain the vital core of it while building on it and turning it into something that's luminously fresh.

We're building upon a foundation that wasn't nearly done being mined, explored or understood the first time around, and Timecop1983 and Phaserland are both masters of taking subtle bits from times gone by and giving them the attention and care that is much deserved. 'Fourth Dimension' is a prime example of this process.

'Kissing in Berlin'

'Kissing in Berlin' is the first of Electric Atlantic's two legitimate slow jams (the other being 'Soft Scene'), and initiates the gentle come-down phase that ends with that track to close the album proper.

It's a beautiful track that has a certain swagger-like quality. Docile as the track might be, however, nobody's falling under the spell of sleep here. It's a potent and commanding song, with a bass line that has a synthetic thump to it and acts as a dynamic lead melody for much of the tune. This rhythmic centre is accompanied by airy synth pads that drift in and out of the song's main focus, and that thumping bassline as well as some hard-hitting snare drums keep the song edgy enough so that there's no mistaking the song for a lullaby.

The energies that this song harbours are radiating through the gaps that each sweeping and lush pad smear against the listener's ears. The song got an edge to it that's just sharp enough to hook itself into the velvet layers that brush against it. It's a deceptively powerful track and certain to be a highlight for any listeners that appreciate the power that can sometimes resonate from that which may initially seem innocuous.

'Straight to You' (Featuring Nikki Dodds)

Nikki Dodds is back here with a mid-tempo jam that's full of the good stuff that 80s pop music was made of. It's a straightforward tune with a traditional verse/chorus interplay that's accessible and feel-good.

The song is saturated in warm synths and chime-filled percussion that put a glow to the tune, and the lyrics are steeped in retro-romance, brimming with the kind of lover-speak that is so pleasingly reminiscent of the best that 80s romantic pop had to offer. It's a charming track and further lulls the listener towards the album's gentle conclusion.

'Soft Scene'

A companion piece to 'Kissing in Berlin'; 'Soft Scene' closes out the the album with another great slow jam. It's a gorgeous, lush-sounding track that exploits my love of the romantic and downtempo synth song. Whereas 'Kissing in Berlin' has a certain commanding presence due to the reverb-laden snare hits and rhythmic, marching bassline, 'Soft Scene' is more submissive and instead drifts like a timid-yet-graceful couple as they take tentative steps together on a softly-lit dance floor.

As if a pair of dancers opt to exit the beachside nightclub in favour of a walk along the sandy shoreline, the gentle sound of waves lapping that can be heard throughout the track takes over as the music ends. It's a beautifully fitting end to things. What started as a frenetic metropolitan experience full of diverse sounds and complex expressions ends with a streamlining of focus, with the music becoming less immediate and more reflective as the assorted personalities the listener's been introduced to throughout their trip on the Electric Atlantic pack up their things and head off in separate directions towards their individual destinations.

With 'Soft Scene' we're left now with a more streamlined and exclusive focus. The crowd has departed and it's now a one-on-one thing, with eyes moving from lover to the ocean-blanketed horizon where the sun will rise on tomorrow's new day.

'Hot Stunner' (Farfletched Remix)"

And as if to prove that two lovers on a beach are not, contrary to what they might believe while they're caught in that passionate moment, the only people on earth, Phaserland cheekily interrupts their romantic moment with one last funky treat. This final bit of exultation goes by a name we've heard before: 'Hot Stunner', but this time the track is remixed by Dundee, Scotland's Farfletched, who has made a name for himself remixing the works of artists such as Vincenzo Salvia and Futurecop!.

His interpretation of 'Hot Stunner' retains the bounce and energy of the original while adding a disco bassline that's got punch and power. It has octave jumps that cannot be shaken from the brain once heard, and the song is a friendly and welcome reminder that there's always someone awake and partying their ass off in the world of Phaserland's Electric Atlantic.

Waverunner Records presents Phaserland's Electric Atlantic album for purchase in digital formats on their Bandcamp page here. If tomorrow's new day brings another Phaserland release, all the better for fans of 80s-inspired music that is boldly progressive, experimental and innovative. Both his first full-length release Night Talk in Paradise and his new masterpiece Electric Atlantic prove that producer Ross Trinkaus has an incredible talent that is exciting to experience and unafraid to push musical boundaries.

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, and it is my distinct pleasure to praise this release as a Synthetix Reference Experience.