Saturday, May 23, 2015

Voltage Controlled Communiques

Hello there rockers, there's no Synthetix Sunday this week due to Marko being ill, so I thought I'd post some bits and pieces from what's happening around scene.

Donate A Track For UK Mental Health Awareness Week

This project of James Mairs' has been gather momentum beautifully over the last week and he's back with an update!

Hey guys this is just an update from me (Nostalgic Fantasy). For those of you unaware, last week was mental health awareness week 2015 here in the UK. And the key focus about promoting the subject was mindfulness and consideration because you never know what it's affecting people on the inside.
And so last week I started an initiative to try and get as many producers involved as possible called "Donate a Track" It started from Friday the 15th and will run right up until the end of May/ early June. Through this time I am trying to raise awareness for Mental Health 2015 by trying to rally as many producers as I can to donate a track, and also spread awareness about the subject and the cause itself.
Since Friday what I have been looking to do is build an open playlist of donated tracks within the genre of synthwave or 80s's based synthmusic in support of mental health awareness and spreading happiness through the power of music.

Music to a lot of people including myself can be a very personal thing, it can be very comforting and it can mean escaping to somebody else's world if not for a short time. This playlist is open to anyone who wishes to add to it but its only for free downloads. And mainly must be within the 1980's synthmusic/synthwave genre however I've made one or two exceptions to accommodate a few people who put themselves forward and wanted to contribute. If you would like to donate a track use the tag "DonateATrack" within you're soundcloud upload and I will add it from there.

Or If anyone wishes to get in touch with me they can also PM me on soundcloud or drop me an email here.

I must say I am truly astounded by the responses I have been getting so far !! The number of people who have agreed to step in, and have been willing to help and get involved truly made me speechless and I am ever so thankful for their generosity and understanding.

I have been working close with Rick and Synthetix to try and get as many people/producers on board as possible since last Friday and I have had many responses from people approaching me with their stories about how mental health has affected them and their families. And just hearing that makes me appreciate just how personal it can get for some people. Mental health is very close to me and I feel it is an important message to get behind, music brings us all together and that's really what I am trying to promote through this.

If you would like to learn more about mental health and find support please check out these links below.

But, as I say right now I am just awaiting submissions but I am keen to keep pushing the idea further and spread the message. It's not too late to get involved and I am truly thankful for all the support people have given me so far and In the words of the two great ones be excellent to each other.

Power Drive 2000: The Game We've All Been Waiting For!

There's been a great deal of 80s inspired synth music used in videogame soundtracks over the last twelve months and the upcoming Power Drive 2000 promises to bring the aesthetics of the 80s in a high action racing game with a spectacular soundtrack to match! Megacom Games have 11 days to go on their Kickstarter to make this project a reality so please get behind it and get ready for some totally rockin racing.

Get all the details on the Kickstarter page here.

The Third Episode Of Soiree 80s Is Ready To Rock!

Doing a set Soiree 80s has been some of the best fun I've had in recent times and our third show airs this weekend! Myself, Marko & Jazzi, DJ Spaz and Micky Dodds all have a selection of our favourite 80s tunes to share with you and as a bonus we also have a two hour DJ set from DJ Dan Williams.

You can tune in on Mixlr on 23 May at 21:00 in UTC+01 here for all the live rockin action and you'll be able to catch the show afterwards on Mixcloud here at your own convenience.

International Boombox Day 2015 Stereo Sonic Electro Rockin Mixtape 

Don't forget I'm taking submissions for 2015's edition of the Synthetix.FM Stereo Sonic Electro Rockin Mixtape still too. This mixtape is all about high energy hard rockin breakdance and street anthems. If you'd like to submit a track for it please contact me via the contact box on this page or via Facebook, the cut off date is July 4th. I'll be posting a few reminders over the coming weeks to make sure everyone gets a chance to get a track included.

Check out last year's one for what's in store for 2015!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Alpharisc In Synthwars

By Michael CA L

Synthwave producer Alpharisc, aka Shane Yates of Melbourne, Australia, is a man who, like so many aficionados of 80's-inspired music, grew up during the 80's and whose exposure to various music-related media of that time left a lasting impression on him. So much so, in fact, that Yates believes that synthesizer music can make life better and solve many of the problems that inevitably arise through simply having a heart that beats. With a clear-minded focus on this personal maxim, Yates has made it his mission to make music that a lover of 80's-music would happily swear they'd heard before in the distant past and on some format of outdated technology, but without the listener being able to identify the exact source of this music-induced nostalgia. Yates has been successful in his attempts, and this is a result of his ability to soak up the vibes, feelings, textures and sounds of the 80's era and transpose them into beautifully 80's-inspired yet deeply original music using modern synthesizers and digital audio workstation technologies.

I first came upon Yates' music with the release of his 1989 Dream Girl EP, released on Wave Runner Records in the summer of 2014 and, about a month later, with the release of the Shanglin EP, put out by Future City Records. Both releases captured my attention after just a single listen each with what I can only describe as a kind of conceptual and organizational unity and flow that was displayed beautifully and succinctly. Each EP has clear thematic focus within it, each is harnessed within the scope of three songs, and each spans a length of time that is just over ten minutes short. Being an ardent fan of the "synthwave slow jam", I know the emotive power and sway that a down-tempo synthwave track - complete with warmth-soaked pads and an ebb-and-flow pull like that of a sunset beach walk when the tide is changing - can have on an 80's-inspired music lover. What's trickier, in my opinion, is drawing out these same lavish atmospheres and nostalgia-inducing thoughts in the listener through the use of higher tempos and compositional shifts that charge at you with aggressive intent instead of oozing up to you smoothly. Let me tell you - to be lulled and romanced while at the same time feeling a certain degree of tension and apprehension isn't something I experience everyday, and Alpharisc's 1989 Dream Girl and Shanglin EPs did just this very thing.

As the above statements suggest, Alpharisc's first two EPs have stood the test of time in my mind, and they serve as some of the more memorable and valuable listening experiences I've enjoyed in the past couple of years. Having followed his work closely ever since, I leapt at the opportunity to hear his latest output - that being his first full-length album: Synthwars. With this release, brought to us by the brand new (and aptly titled) Future Retro Music label, Alpharisc has put together something beyond the most harmonious dreams of an 80's-inspired music fan. It's a release that is completely true to all the things that we know about Shane Yates through his musical output, with the added bonus of being a powerful evolution of his abilities as both a composer, producer and conceptualist. Within Synthwars the listener can feel the artist's desire to solve problems through music, and the release also radiates Yates' strong aspiration to create music that brings back memories of the retro past while staring straight into the future.

The album cover art displays the ever-present, synthwave-standard grid as a backdrop for the title, which is done in a font that emphatically pays tribute to one of the most legendary video game protagonists of all time: Pac-Man. These features, coupled with the fact that the tracks are titled as "stages" (1 through 9, with various subtitles behind each stage designation), mean that we the listeners know right away that we're embarking on a nostalgic trip through an array of themes and mnemonic artifacts inspired by classic gaming and driven home by a central core of retro-inspired synthesized gaming music.

Yet Synthwars is an album that is so much more than the sum of its influences, references or inspirations. Whereas Alpharisc has always been able to create poignant music without relying on melancholic down-tempos, his choice to create an album that is almost completely filled with high-BPM synthwave shows a bold confidence that pays off fully. Apart from the harrowing, mid-tempo 'Stage 6 - Your Move Creep' and 'Stage 7 - Battle Station' (which act as a kind of tether from which the listener can hang onto for dear life after experiencing the album's previous five kinetic attacks), Synthwars is a fast-paced boss rush with as many intensely satisfying moments as one could ever hope to find in their favourite retro-video gaming memories, let alone a musical tribute to them. In Synthwars, Alpharisc reveals to the listener just how beautiful a thing can be when its creator is able to grow his abilities, expand on his talents, and do these things while at the same time devoting himself fully and completely to a specific concept, which in this case was the affecting energy that the best classic video game experiences could contain and the thrilling, joyful impact they could have on the enthusiastic gamer-devotees that valued them.

Synthwars, Alpharisc's first full-length album, is an inspired, invigorating head-trip of a release, and deserves recognition for being not just a fantastic collection of songs with a truly cohesive, total-album feel, but for being one of the best nostalgic explorations of classic video game energy that doesn't involve dusting off your ancient consoles and sitting down for a serious gaming session. As a result, it comes very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.

Synthwars is available in digital formats through Future Retro Music's Bandcamp page here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Searsly Spuhghetti

By Eddie Spuhghetti

Who'da thunk New Zealand would be the source for a rando Back To The Future parody snack commercial!?  Bluebird Foods is a New Zealand based snack-food manufacturer whose parent company eventually became PepsiCo and with products available in Australia and New Zealand, they hold the title as the Kiwi-Nation's #1 chip.  The chips come in a variety of flavours, including UK favourite "Chicken" and while I've never had any kind of Bluebird chip before, I can easily imagine they taste like most other potato chips.  That assumption aside, I don't think any other chip company would attempt to make a commercial based off the hit 1985 sci-fi comedy Back To The Future but someone at Bluebird thought it would be a great idea.  Maybe Needles; it was Needles' idea!

As "Touch of Grey" Doc Brown impatiently waits in an empty parking lot, bright flashes of light erupt and roaring-in comes a Studebaker decorated in scrap metal, wires and a flaming rocket-exhaust.  At the wheel is our "Marty McFly" although he's 10 years younger and looks more like a kid playing dress-up with a Maverick costume from Top Gun and a Rebel Pilot helmet.  With the dog in the passenger seat and the fact that Doc has a camcorder (strapped to his arm but still), these are the real nice touches made to reference the film it's spoofing.  Marty here doesn't seem to be really that excited from his trip when Doc asks if he's doing okay so I'm gonna take a wild guess that this wasn't his first shot at time-travel.  Perhaps he already went a few times and brought back light beer or something lame, so he was told to go back and get something better: potato chips.  Bluebird puts emphasis on how their chips taste like the chip of the future as Doc gorges on the future-chip bag and inputs some commands into a computer so that we can see the chips rotate on a sweet vector-grid screen.  Taking a breather outside (and possibly re-filling Mr. Fusion once the chip-bag is empty), Doc asks if anyone else makes a chip as good as Bluebird's in the future: "They didn't get through, Doc." says McFly.

This company has a lot of balls to suggest that their chip will be the only one standing in the future and that all other chip manufacturers will succumb to their awesomeness.  Lays will be "lay'd-off" and Mr. Pringle will realize nobody likes eating chips out of a can anymore.  While the kid doesn't look much like Marty, the guy who plays Doc does a pretty good job at looking like Christopher Lloyd.  You almost wonder if the company could have just shelled out some cash to get Lloyd himself to do it; much like the various Japanese commercials involving celebrities.

All of a sudden now, I feel like going out to get some chips.. so strap on your Nikes, get the Flux Capacitor fluxing and crank up some tunes: perhaps some Solitaire!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Ghosts Of Soviet

By Andrew B. White

Let’s get this straight to start with – Soviet are not this weeks’s latest newcomers on the synthwave tip. In fact they have been around since the mid-90s which makes them closer in age to the actual 80s music emulated in synthwave that it does to the here and now of the 21st Century.

Soviet started life in Syracuse NY and later moved to New York City where they became part of the emerging ‘electroclash’ scene around 2000. Electroclash included acts such as Felix Da Housecat, Miss Kittin, Peaches and my personal favorites Fischerspooner (still waiting for that decent follow-up to “#1’ guys). Performing live shows as a five-piece in the pre-laptop era with drums, guitars and synths proved Soviet were not just a studio outfit. Between 2000 and 2003 the band released two albums, “We are Eyes, We are Builders” and “Spies in the House of Love”. (Both of these are available on Bandcamp and are recommended if you want to hear Soviet’s journey over the last decade-and-a-half). In 2003 Ruggiero relocated to LA to make the second Soviet record but fell into composing and sound design for commercials. Due to focusing on this new work and the uncertain state of the music industry the Soviet project went into hibernation. This was also about the time that the electroclash movement started dying out, with many of the artists refining their sound towards a more dancefloor-friendly and less “80s” aesthetic. Personally, in its prime, I thought electroclash was going to be the savior of contemporary music but it wasn’t to be – it just fizzled out. Maybe that era was just a short ride before the digital age provided a better platform for the music. I guess Ruggiero probably figured the same thing.

Fast-forward several years and the story goes that while Ruggiero was writing the electronic soundtrack for the futuristic independent short “Life Begins At Rewirement” he was inspired to put together a new Soviet album. This new album, titled “Ghosts”, was written and produced by Ruggiero who also performed all of the vocals. Original Soviet member Christopher Otchy contributes keyboards and guitar and Chaz Windus provides drum programming and synth parts, rounding out Soviet as a trio for 2015. Right now in the musical landscape, the timing seems to be more suited for Soviet to make a mark – electronic music with ‘80s influences has found its feet and is not such a victim to the over-the-shoulder treatment it received from its snarky dancefloor siblings in the early ‘00s.

To that end “Ghosts” serves as universally appealing album to the current synthwave scene and the wider electronic community. On the face of things Soviet doesn’t serve up obvious throwback ‘80s music and neither does the way they present themselves support that theory. Of course the ‘80s are in here – that’s a given – but there’s more of a ‘European’ feel to this music. This could be read as being ‘serious’ – as something dark grey rather than bright pink. The obvious ‘80s comparisons to be made might be the poppier moments of Depeche Mode, a little Vince Clark and some OMD. Ruggiero’s voice sounds more in line with contemporary electronic music of the DFA variety – it’s both strong but restrained; there’s no highway to the drama-queen, synth pop falsetto zone going on here. Musically, Soviet keep everything very clean and crisp with solid arrangements and melodies. Back in the ‘80s ‘clean and crisp’ was often misrepresented and coined as being ‘cold’ but when you have all these nice big synths in the mix as you do on “Ghosts” that theory seems at odds with itself.

There are 10 tracks on “Ghosts”. Opener ‘Onto Something’ is a great smooth, confident synth pop number and manages to pack in everything a good song needs into a snappy 2:49 minutes. From there on in the album flows along with track after track of cohesive synth pop built around Ruggiero’s vocals. Various changes in tempo, nice percussive touches and the odd lick of electric guitar over washes of pads make for good times. Far be it from me to do a tedious track-by-track dissection of “Ghosts" – better for you to listen to it yourself my friend. However, some highlights including the tinkly synth parts in title track ‘Ghosts’, the Erasure-crossed-with-the-Cure bounce of ‘Jealousy’, the drum machine beat and guitars of ‘Overrated’ with its barbed lyrics, ‘Subdivision’s darker ‘night drive’ feel, the OMD-like ‘Changes’ and the upbeat jaunt of ‘Psychic City’. The album finishes up with ‘Symmetric Connection’ which at only 1:46 in length is a bit of a tease. Maybe this is a prelude for what’s to come.

It’s pretty safe to say that “Ghosts” is a Synthetix FM Synthetix Reference Experience, mainly because Soviet demonstrate how a cohesive album should sounds and the zone they open up for audiences to come together from all corners parts of the electronic music community. Soviet presents “Ghosts” on Rosso Corsa’s Bandcamp here, on iTunes here,  on cassette from Burger Records here, on CD directly from Sounds Red Records here, or via their own Bandcamp page here.

As a bonus, there are 20 remixes of selected tracks from “Ghosts” in varying electronic styles. Remix artists familiar to Synthetix FM readers include Silent Gloves and Miami Nights 1984. I’m also happy to see the inclusion of a remix by I Satellite who have been making great retro synth music for over a decade. The remixes are available on the Sounds Red Soundcloud page here.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Synthetix Sundays Returns!

Synthetix Sundays is finally back and better than ever rockin on Radio Pure Gently!
This week's return show features interviews with Aysyne, Glitch Black and Karate King.

Plus all your favourite segments are back Synthetix Spotlight, Quality Time With Shithouse and of course Paul Dress 2 Kill Daly.

What an incredible few weeks it's been in the synth scene, and it's definitely a super hard rockin playlist featuring exclusive tracks to premier from TCR and Karate King, Daniel Deluxe, Omega Danzer and a remix by Volt Age!

This week there's a huge amount of giveaway download codes too, tune in LIVE for your chance to win one of:

3 x Raven0lm - Electro Magnetic Radiation EP
5 x Orax - Until the End LP
10 x the Neon Wolves Scythe Compilation
5 x The Annihilator Compilation
5 x Dallas Campbell - Oases LP
5 x Android Automatic - Signal EP
3 x Glitch Black - World's Ruin LP
5 x Occams Laser - The Road to Fury LP
2 x Alpharisc - Synthwars LP

And more give aways to be announced! This is one show you'll definitely want to catch live!

Tune in to Synthetix Sundays LIVE on Radio Pure Gently here, at 10pm Perth, Australia time. Please click here to find out when this is in your part of the world. As always the fully downloadable show will be posted here on Monday, along with the featured tracks from Quality Time With Shithouse.

Donate A Track For UK Mental Health Awareness Week

Synthetix.FM is proud to get behind the "Donate A Track" promotion for UK Mental Health Awareness Week. James Nostalgic Fantasy is spearheading this initiative in the scene, so I'll let him take over:

Over the next couple of weeks I'm looking at trying to start a new trend of which as an idea I'm quite proud of Its called "Donate A Track" basically the idea is to write/create something whether it be for your audience or someone specifically the point is it has to have been created with the intention of being given to someone or sharing.

The initial idea came about last week when I decided to do an open commission for a friend of mine. I decided to put my skills to good use and do something for someone else for a change, to try and make them happy. No profit, no statistical gain just giving and the desire to brighten their day.

For my contribution to "Donate A Track" I decided to take one of their favorite songs and translate it into synth. As of yet I'm still to share the result with them but it should be posted on my soundcloud by the end of the week/ early next latest. But they have no idea that I did this for them but I'm hoping it will make them happy.

This is where you guys come in, over the next couple of weeks. what I am trying to encourage is other producers to potentially do something similar and donate a track. Create/write something like you would normally do but share it to someone whether it be your audience or a specific person - But post it on soundcloud/bandcamp whatever's your fancy. and label "Donate A Track" in the heading to spread the word.

From Friday 15th to Monday 25th  I will be accepting/ encouraging people to upload their submissions with the tag as mentioned, they can send me a link to their submissions that have been uploaded via soundcloud or what have you over the next couple of weeks And on the 25th I will compile them into a playlist. People can link me to their tracks one of two ways email or via soundcloud link by PM.

My soundcloud url is or you can contact me via email here.

Please get behind this initiative and make a difference to someone on a personal level. Music has immense power over us, give your music the power to be an intentional positive force in someone's life.

Quality Time With Shithouse Feature Tracks:

And don't forget I'm now taking submissions for 2015's edition of the Synthetix.FM Stereo Sonic Electro Rockin Mixtape! This mixtape is all about high energy hard rockin breakdance and street anthems. If you'd like to submit a track for it please contact me via the contact box on this page or via Facebook, the cut off date is July 4th. If you're not sure what I'm after please have a listen to last years to get an idea of what kind of rockin's a goin on!