Tuesday, November 25, 2014

OGRE's Adventure In 195

Synthetix.FM is honoured to have Andy Last of Beyond Synth fame as a guest reviewer for OGRE's totally rockin new record. Take it away Andy!

By Andy Last

It is my pleasure to review OGRE’s latest album 195, a soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist but I really wish did. I should apologize in advance because my prose style is not as flowery and rich as one might expect from a Rick Shithouse review, but we all know there’s only one Rick Shithouse. As a nod to Rick, some of the review may go into flights of fancy as I say what I imagined while listening to a particular track.

Anyone who knows me knows my love for OGRE’s music. So much so that, with his blessing, I made his track 'Shore Thing' the theme song to the Beyond Synth podcast. To this day, the majority of the questions I get regarding the show are new listeners asking me who makes the theme music. Hopefully I’ve made Robin a few British pounds in the process.

OGRE a.k.a. Robin Ogden, was the first person I interviewed in the synth scene and to this day remains one of my favourites, with the track 'Shore Thing' being one of best songs I’ve ever heard regardless of genre.

195, like all of OGRE’s releases is beautifully mixed and mastered and sounds great on any system I play it on. All of his work has a full sound that always seems to sit perfectly in the sound spectrum. He really is one of the top producers in synthwave in terms of his production values and his use of actual field recorded samples gives the tracks a truly authentic feel. You’ll also hear some nods to classic 80s films like Terminator and Commando which was also a nice touch.

Since this whole album is awesome from start to finish, I have chosen to highlight my personal picks. What I like about Robin’s style is he creates a true soundtrack experience while still allowing the individual tracks to be enjoyed as standalone pieces of music. This is something that sets this release apart even from the movies and soundtracks he takes his inspiration from.

'Don’t Call me Hero' is definitely the title music of the album and sets the tone for an epic adventure. What impressed me first was the scale of this track. Starting out with a percussive heartbeat reminiscent of The Terminator, the pace quickens with synth brass and horns that blare the heroic main theme.  And if your mind was not already blown, the track gets even bigger during the theme reprise when the orchestra widens with deep staccato trombones and strings. This song is so awesome, listening to it would make watching videos of an old lady walking a dog into an epic event. 

In 'Dragon Breath' the hero sets his sights on his mission and begins his road trip through the abandoned highways of the post apocalyptic cityscape. After an emotional conversation with his lady partner, she decides to come with him on his adventure and maybe even get some revenge of her own. With her arms wrapped around his waist, they ride an armour plated motorcycle through a light sandstorm. The blue lights of the Robot city shine through the orange haze. 

With the track 'Interceptor' we hear some James Horner influence from Commando with the horns and steel drums. But what sets this apart from the actual Commando soundtrack is this is just a kick ass song to listen to. While I enjoy the Commando soundtrack in context, listening to it without the film isn’t quite as enjoyable experience. 'Interceptor' takes that vibe and distills it down to two and a half minutes of greatness. John Matrix would be proud. This is the sort of track that makes you want to eat green berets for breakfast.

What I love about “Fireside Remembrance” is the way the reverb of the solo horn sounds as though I am sitting in on a recording session as Robin is playing. There is something very present about the sound in this one giving it an almost live feel. For one brief moment on this journey we get a glimpse into the studio. The tune of the processed electric piano truly evokes the title. The hero tells his partner the story of how he came to be mixed up in all this. A story of love and loss. When the tale is done, his partner has fallen asleep. For now there is a brief peace before the danger ahead.

'Faces of War' is obviously inspired by The Terminator but unlike Power Glove who, in their Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon soundtrack, emulated The Terminator in an almost “sound-a-like” fashion, Robin takes the inspiration and elevates it into a full on epic sound with horns and stabs and makes it something greater. A slowly increasing tempo adds to the tension of this track with a series of ascending orchestra hits that lead to a reprise of the theme. A small victory for our Hero in a tumultuous battle.

'Negotiations Over' is probably the most “songy” track on the album with a consistent dance beat. Although the track 'Mission Complete' is labeled by Robin as the end credits, my personal interpretation is that this track would play at the start of the credits. For me, this parallels Vangelis’ dancey Blade Runner end titles. A reprieve from the twisting and turning of the rest of the tracks, 'Negotiations Over' let’s you breathe while still delivering the scale you’ve come to expect form the rest of the album. And while being slightly anachronistic to the rest of the album, I thought the glitch-hoppy moment in this track was really cool.

The bottom line is that Robin, as a musician keeps getter better and it’s been my pleasure to not only enjoy his music as a number 1 fan, but to count him as one of my first friends in the synthwave scene. While I chose to write about these particular tracks, I enjoyed 195 completely and simply didn’t have the time to write a novel detailing every track. I’m sure once you check it out you’ll have favourites of your own. 

195 brings a sense of scale which is not often heard in much of the synthwave scene. The high end production values along with the use of many interesting sounds and unique samples truly sets this apart in the synth soundtrack genre.

195 is presented on OGRE's Bandcamp here in digital formats as well as limited edition cassette. This record is a great achievement and comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM. Run to Bandcamp and pick up 195. It is awesome. The end.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Hello Meteor - Respect Your Ghosts

By Matthew Neophytou

The diversity of the wave genre is one of the aspects that draw me towards it each time I hear a track. From heavy strobe beats to melodic synths on the cusp of the cosmos, without a doubt I am taken up, up and away, the latter is where we find ourselves with Hello Meteor's  EP Respect Your Ghosts, capturing my imagination like a Henson production circa 1980's.

'I Don’t Need You Any More'… throws you in into a space of wonder and reflection, the mid and high synths play together a story that leaves you asking who is the object of which the title is referring to?

Straight away the piano on 'Fantastic Violence' sets the tone on this almost noir track, slipping into a staggered beat that is cool and mysterious, speaking of noir 'Furious Pursuit (tech noir)' continues the feel of the previous track but ups the momentum.

'Dragon of the Black Pool' takes us on a chilled drive, mesmerising us with a feeling you’re comfortable with, having listened through the album, strings and beats float together along the stars with this one.

Hello Meteor presents Respect Your Ghosts available on digital download on Bandcamp over here, and gets a very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM, for a new wave journey that is stripped of all the excess but no less thematic in execution.

Isaac Galvez - Cleta Squad EP

By Jerry Herrera

Isaac Galvez’s Cleta Squad EP dubiously begins with stuttered, jangly synths that seem to last a bit too long and for a moment I’m left wondering when the track is going to begin, or if this is really what has been submitted to the listening public.  What I am not aware of is that Galvez is building up to something, carefully, quietly, in the background.  Out of nowhere, the title track explodes into warm synth, fat claps and snares that bang on the rings of Saturn.  It’s an ethereally broken track full of little wisps of madness and I was instantly drawn into Galvez’s sound.

It’s a somewhat recognizable sound.  Isaac Galvez wanders into territory claimed by Com Truise and M83.  It is a chill place, but where the aforementioned would rather float in a haze of sustained choruses or fuzzy repetition, Galvez brings a clearer vision.  Something more breezy, tropical if you will, and uniquely pleasing infects all four tracks of the Cleta Squad EP, like having a cocktail in a hammock on the shore of an alien beach.

I will say this is not typical retrowave so there’s really none of the expected themes at work here but where some may avoid this EP for this reason, I say that it is all the more reason to pay attention.  There is genuine creativity going on here and while I wouldn’t say there is risky experimentation in the EP, Galvez has an innovator’s heart and a strong sense of aural curiosity.  I’m saying it now, Isaac Galvez is a name we will be seeing a lot more in the future.

Pick up a copy of Cleta Squad on Isaac Galvez's Bandcamp page here.

The Kolour Kult - The Kolour Kult EP

By Rick Shithouse

The ages of 80s sounds are usually blurred with inspirations from numerous parts of the decade with most modern producers however this is definitely not the case with Kolour Kult's sound on their debut EP. There rockers know their late 80s electronic pop sounds better than you know the back of your hand and this five track release encapsulates a very specific era of 80s sounds superbly.

You can hear the influences of the original 80s fabricators of this music and envision them nodding their heads in complete approval at Kolour Kults kick arse homage. The late 80s sounds of Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, New Order and Bronski Beat mixed with positively late 80s vintage R&B sounds are brought back to sparkling life through out this EP; lead by a vocalist who really gives a spectacularly accurate performance through all the pieces.

The Kolour Kult may hail from  New York but their musical souls are wholly based in the UK and the energy and fervour of their reinvention of this period is something special indeed. The synthscape is absolutely 100% unmistakably accurate to this vintage from the percussion to the heavy orchestral stabs. The opening track is really a huge standout piece, 'Sentimentality Falls' is part Pet Shop Boys' cover of 'Always On My Mind' and and part dancefloor synthpop anthem with a range of elements that rocks to the max from beginning to end.

'Lose Control' gets more clubby and dubby with a groove made for dancing and synth hooks you'll get reeled in on and time and time again but it's on 'Hearts Like Ours' that the Kolour Kult bridge an impossible gap between Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Cameo. The amount of polish in the production gives even more authenticity to experience and the final tracks give themselves even more anthemic stature, rockin to the max on the hugely dramatic 'Hearts Like Ours'.

The Kolour Kult's self titled EP really brings in a new dimension to the established favourites of 80s inspired synth music and creates their own perfectly formed niche to develop these sounds further. Grab a copy of this great EP via their Bandcamp page here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Scythe: Mutant Devolution

by Jon of the Shred

Chapter 1: Paragon

Chaos raged through the Paragon laboratory and the city around it. Camp Terror was burning to the ground, warfare and bloodshed running rampant through the streets. Two rebellions had been sparked on this fateful night, the cause of all the chaos. Everything Paragon had built in the last 6 months was now burning to ash.

One group of rebels consisted of enraged citizens, who claimed Paragon was exploiting them. These people maintained the safety of the territory, they guarded all the walls, they did walks around the perimeter, usually performing all these tasks with little or no Paragon assistance. It was a group of citizens, not Paragon officials, who went out every two weeks on supply runs, risking their lives, sustaining heavy casualties. Meanwhile Paragon remained holed up in their giant laboratory and office facility, rationing the food off as they saw fit. They did little to support the community after getting it started 6 months ago.

In Paragon's mind these folks were ungrateful. These usurpers were all living under the umbrella of safety Paragon provided. Paragon made it possible to survive in the post-Apocalyptic Dawn wasteland comfortably, and none of these peasants appreciated their efforts. Everyone must do their part. Loyalty to industry brings stability to society.

The other uprising was a much more unexpected scenario....

In the wake of the apocalypse, Paragon refocused the efforts of their entire organization in launching their long hidden project – a militarized cyborg police force known as Meganet. And now the Meganet cybernetic system had gone online – without Paragon initiating the launch sequence. The cyborgs had gained a sentience of their own, and started lashing out violently against humanity. What were the odds, two rebellions in one night! An uprising of angry citizens and the awakening of the cybernetic sentience, nearly one year after the Apocalyptic Dawn, all the while the planet Scythe still plagued by the undead....the planets were not aligning for Paragon.

Camp Terror was, indeed a farce. It was a ploy to get citizens doing the bulk of the work to keep the Paragon research facility powered up, all so Paragon could finalize and launch the Meganet project. Paragon had started to the form a safe-zone just 6 months after the Apocalyptic Dawn. Their location was around the perimeter of their biggest research facility, located in Donovan City. This laboratory housed the bulk of their cybernetic technology, 70% of their chemical and biological weapons cache, and even the technology to travel space – all projects they kept hidden from the Scythian government and public. Which is exactly why they chose to start the safe-zone there. Now they could hide in plain sight, inviting survivors to help them retake Donovan City and develop it into a livable safe-zone, which in turn enabled them to continue research in a powered laboratory unimpeded by the Impaled. To Paragon it was a win-win situation – safety for labor. And having the citizens do the bulk of the work allowed them to procure the necessary resources needed to launch the Meganet system without putting their own employees and scientists at risk. The citizens of the safe-zone would unknowingly fuel the rest of their research. But the greatest irony of it all was the fact Paragon had caused the Impaled apocalypse themselves – with the 8X-13 gas.

Paragon's hidden project 8X-13 was just one of many botched experiments. They had been conducting years of research to invent a substance that could greatly extend the human lifespan. Many tests were run, and they all failed in their own ways. 8X-01, for example, caused the test subjects to vomit out their organs violently within a half hour of ingestion. 8X-02 caused the test subjects to bleed profusely out of their eyes, ears, and noses. 8X-03 caused almost immediate heart failure. Each new iteration of the project bore horrible consequences.

8X-13 was arguably the most dangerous gas of the bunch. 8X-13 caused the death of the test subject, followed later by reanimation. When reanimated, these mobile corpses were driven by pure motorized instinct to consume the flesh of the living. These creatures would pass their sickness on to anyone they scratched or bit. All 8X-13 test subjects were gunned down and burned, their ashes scattered to the wind. Yet Paragon were undeterred by all these heinous results, and continued making more and more chemicals unimpeded.

With each botched serum, Paragon would make shipments of the dangerous chemicals to their warehouse facility on the outskirts of Specter City. 8X-13 was the final shipment to Paragon's Specter City warehouse and was the cause of the apocalypse. Members of the extremist group Euphoric Damnation broke into the laboratory the day of the 8X-13 shipment, inadvertently releasing the gas whilst attacking the facility. 8X-13 quickly spread throughout Specter City, and within a week the undead outnumbered the humans 100 to 1. At the peak of the 8X-13 apocalypse, the Apocalyptic Dawn, the undead numbered 10,000 to every 1 human. 

Now, a year later, the walls of Donovan City, the infamous “Camp Terror,” had been breached. Swarms of the Impaled had begun to pour into the safe-zone, ironically returning to the birthplace of 8X-13, the very substance that allowed the existence of these vile creatures. The Impaled clawed at the fences surrounding the Paragon facility. Amidst the chaos, the remaining scientists and faculty of these facilities scrambled about, filling their convoy trucks with as much weaponry, resources, and research as possible. While the organization sustained hundreds of casualties, the majority were able to file into their trucks and crash through the fences just as the Meganet cyborgs emerged to attack. And now as the Impaled poured through the fences of, the human and cyborg rebels alike rained bullets throughout Donovan City. Paragon had been forced to donate their most important facility on the entire planet to the monsters they created....the cyborgs, the Impaled, and the impoverished.

Chapter 2: Over the Desert Plains of Zu-Rakeen

Decades before the apocalypse, the deserts of Zu-Rakeen were already a chaotic wasteland. Criminals, murderers, drug dealers...all the scum of society were banished to the desert to fend for themselves. The giant Wall of Rot blocked the deserts of Zu-Rakeen off from the free lands of Scythe. Paragon were also rumored to have been sending political dissenters into the deserts – anyone who publicly questioned the power and influence of the corporate giant seemed to disappear mysteriously. All conspiracy theorists who spread the rumor of the corporation puppeteering the Scythian government seemed to conveniently vanish.

The Paragon convoy was headed for the Wall of Rot, to travel into the deserts of Zu-Rakeen and escape the wrath of the Meganet Cyborgs and Camp Terror rebels. Many enemies of Paragon lurked in the deserts, criminals and innocents alike THEY had banished into the wasteland. Cannibal tribes roamed the sands, all the murderers and thieves and criminals now forced to feast on the flesh of the innocents. The convoy was well armed and prepared for conflict, knowing fell well they would likely be assaulted by enemies with personal vendettas. 

The convoy drove three days upon the one paved road of the desert – the Neon Highway that led to Death Canyon. Beyond the Canyon lied ports that would take Paragon to their one remaining outpost – the facilities and living stations located on the Islands of Dar-Keen. But before they could reach the Island of Dar-Keen, they would have to brave the most dangerous stretch of road on all of Scythe – the infamous Blood Run.

Chapter 3: Blood Run

The Blood Run was the final 15 mile stretch of the Neon Highway before it descended into the underground tunnel system that would lead to the ports of Dar-Keen. Despite the dangers of the desert and the dark history of the Blood Run, it was the most common trade route on the entire planet. Paragon used it frequently in times of both peace and war. They generally spent weeks planning these convoys to limit casualties and conflict. This time, however, there were no plans in place to ensure safe passage through the Deserts of Zu-Rakeen. There was no strategy to make it through the Blood Run whole. And they had the bulk of their biological and chemical weaponry loaded in these trucks. One truck even carried all 8X-14 through 8X-17....

Gunners atop the trucks stood poised, alert, and anxious. Any signs of life they would disintegrate with the plasma cannons and machine gun turrets. The cannibal tribes would need powerful weaponry and a brilliant strategy to successfully overtake the well-armed and heavily guarded convoy. Despite the odds being stacked, the crazy bastards would attack regardless of their weaponry disadvantage.

The convoy finally reached the foot of the canyon, the craggy peaks and rocks towered ahead, casting menacing shadows across the desert plains. Surprisingly they had dealt with no conflict in the three days it took to traverse the desert. The air still stood thick with electric tension. Not a single Paragon member spoke a word, the only sounds being the rumbling of engines, the humming of the Neon Highway, and the sounds of scant wildlife scattered throughout the desert.

The vehicles continued to barrel onwards as they entered Blood Run, picking up speed rather than slowing down. The sun set above in a vibrant display, the sky red as if with the blood of the countless deaths at Camp Terror. Or perhaps it was a premonition of things to come on the Blood Run....

A mile in, still no signs of danger. A few of the truck gunners saw it immediately though - a flare gun. The Cannibals began to pour in from the sides of the canyon on motorcycles and ATVs brandishing all the weapons they had managed to steal from other convoys in the past. Up ahead, the bulk of the Cannibals vehicles lied in wait. The chase had begun....

Chapter 4: The Chase Begins

The convoy barreled forwards, never hastening in speed. The cannibal's stolen trucks and cars up ahead all peeled out in unison. Bullets and plasma beams dotted the evening sky. The first two vehicles collided, neither the cannibal nor Paragon official attempting to avoid it. The explosion rocked the canyon. Shrapnel rained down, raining from the sky. One shard of metal found itself buried deep with the neck of a cannibal on a motorcycle. Another cut the arm off of an unlucky gunner.

Despite the size of the ambush, the Paragon convoy managed to break through the road block with ease, only two of their trucks being taken down in the process. The final 14 miles would now be a deadly chase. The Cannibals were picking up speed, many of the motorcycle, dirt bike, and ATV riders catching up to the last car. One of the cannibals chucked a spear at the gunner on the final truck of the convoy, and nailed a lucky shot. The gunner toppled over the side of the truck.

The cannibals on bikes and ATVs managed to surround the last track of the convoy. The gunner in the truck just ahead picked two of them off with well-aimed shots, but was quickly neutralized with a bullet to the skull. The cannibals trucks and cars were now catching up as well. After a well timed jump, a cannibal managed to smash his fist through the Paragon trucks window. His hand quickly found the driver, ripping the drivers throat out. The cannibal pulled the body through the window and dropped it to the gravel below, the corpse immediately rolling and twisting in sick ways. Seconds later a cannibal on a bike lands a bullet in the passenger of the trucks skull, and the cannibal atop the truck jumps in and takes control of the truck, swerving off to the side but coming out clean.

Now that the cannibals had grabbed a fresh Paragon truck, they had considerable more fire power. Another cannibal managed to jump aboard and man the plasma laser, and began firing rounds into the trucks ahead. The cannibal's goal is to steal these trucks and consume the flesh of those inside, not to destroy them. For this reason they take out the tires of the trucks, and manage to get three more in their possession.

The chase has spilled out of the canyon, onto the final mile and a half stretch before the Neon Highway descends into the tunnel system. The cannibals manage to take out the tires of one last truck, their fifth victory of the day, just before the convoy dips into the tunnel and the metallic gate slams shut behind them. A few of the cannibal's vehicles smash into the gate, the vehicles exploding in fireballs. Casualties were to be expected, and it only means more food.

5 trucks with loaded plasma turrets, with several human casualties to feast on...this was a decent victory for the cannibal army. But little did they know just how much weaponry and chemicals each of these trucks housed...

Chapter 5: Mutant Devolution

The cannibals never looked inside the trucks, instead they drove them immediately back through the 15 miles of the Blood Run, picking up  all salvageable corpses along the way. They were headed for the Rotting Keep, their base of operations. Their leader, simply known as Slasher, would decide what is to be done with the goods and provisions found within the trucks.

The giant makeshift gates opened to the Rotting Keep, and in poured the 5 stolen trucks. Slasher was already waiting by the gate. Speaking quickly with the commanding cannibal of the assault team, Slasher gives the order for the assualt team to take the haul to the cargo hold – each would get first pick on the new gear for procuring the goods. Unfortunately for the assault team, the very first truck they inspected happened to house 8X-14 – 8X-17...

Upon opening the trucks and seeing the barrels and canisters, the cannibals made the deadly mistake of thinking they contained Entity. In the deserts of Zu-Rakeen, the drug was a luxury – very rare and even more coveted than alcohol. They struck a deal immediately to take the Entity as their haul, and distribute it to the community without letting Slasher in on it. 

To celebrate their new business venture, the assault team immediately cracked open one of the barrels. They'd catch a quick high, then cart all the Entity back to their living quarters within the keep, hide it and secure it well, make sure it was under guarded watch at all times....only this wasn't Entity. The liquid inside had a sickly greenish hue, much darker than the drug. But the cannibals mistook this as a sign of greater potency, and immediately filled up several shot glasses to kick off their high.

What they had really opened was a batch of 8X-17. Within a minute of drinking the 8X-17, the first round of cannibals were vomiting violently. In yet another lapse of all remaining cannibals who hadn't ingested the 8X-17 immediately became even more curious, desperate to get high. Only two of the cannibals refrained from indulging, backing away from the group and questioning the decision to hastily ingest this substance. 

At the 3 minute mark, the first set of unwitting test subjects began to scream in agony. They fell to the floor, some curling up into the fetal position and others writhing about in their own vomit. They clasped at their faces and thrashed about. The two cannibals to refrain from trying the substance started to back away, heading slowly towards the alarm button at the back of the room.

Then with a sickening tearing sound, one of the cannibals chest ripped in half, a new fleshy appendage bursting through. His face twisted counter clockwise, the skin stretched in a sickly fashion, then started to melt. The other cannibals started reacting in similar fashion, all sorts of sickly mutations ravaging their bodies. The two cannibals at the back of the cargo hold quickly hit the alarm button and sprinted out of the room.

Chapter 6: Sieging the Wall of Rot

The 8X-17 had mutated the cannibals into sickly, grotesque monsters. Complete abominations. They lived in a state of constant agony, still semi-conscious but driven by the instinct to dull their pain by lashing out violently. Their horrific screams and wails were nearly constant, and sounded anything but human. The surviving cannibals rushed about the Rotting Keep, gathering as much supplies as they could. Their plan was to escape the Rotting Keep and the wrath of the mutants.

Slasher had decided it was time to scale the Wall of Rot, to attack Paragon and bring the organization down. They would feast on the flesh of the Paragon scientists, make them pay for their misdeeds and twisted scientific experiments, then roam the countryside – plenty of food for the lot of them. They could take back the cities from the Impaled, forge a new Rotting Keep in Donovan or Specter City.

The cannibals that escaped did not have time on their side, however. The mutated victims of 8X-17 began pouring out of the Rotting Keep, chasing the Cannibals as they headed towards the Wall of Rot. Slasher lead his convoy towards a tower that had been out of commission since the Apocalyptic Dawn. This would be the best place to scale the Wall of Rot – less resistance from Scythian guards.

The cannibals arrived at the wall and began preparing their equipment for the climb. They only had enough equipment to send a half dozen cannibals at a time, and the climb was a lengthy process. The cannibals had been malnourished and underfed since the start of the apocalypse. Even animals were scarce these days. It would take all of them some time to scale the giant fortification.

All the while, the mutants remained in hot pursuit. They were faster than the Impaled- they could sprint at decent speeds. But the day and a half drive to arrive at the Wall of Rot had put some distance between them and the cannibals. The mutants emerged on the skyline just as the first round of cannibals started climbing the wall.

Little by little, more cannibals reached the top of the Wall of Rot. Many began to take up sniping positions, picking off the distant mutants. Some of the mutants had begun to breach the line, quickly downed by the cannibals stolen weaponry, but so many more were approaching. Mutated animal life had begun to emerge as well...mutated wildcats, wolves, coyotes and more begun attacking the cannibals.

With the consistent wave of mutants bearing down on them, Slasher finally decided the only way to minimize casualties would be to blow up a section of the wall. The cannibals had found explosives within one of the trucks they had stolen. After the explosions were set, the four vehicles took off in opposite directions as pairs, driving along the side of the Wall. When they were each a mile out, Slasher detonated the explosives. The Wall of Rot had finally been breached. Perhaps the mutants were nothing more than a necessary agent to facilitate the cannibals return to the free lands of Scythe....

Chapter 7: Legacy

Just one year after the Apocalyptic Dawn, and Scythe was in even worse conditions. The Impaled set into motion a seemingly never-ending cycle of chaos and cataclysm. No problems were solved, and more seemed to arise every day. The innocents suffered and evil prevailed.

The Meganet Cyborgs gaining sentience and lashing out at humans, driving Paragon from their home base and the nomadic Frozen Soldiers out of their home in the North.

The mutant devolution of various creatures, both man and beast, ravaging the deserts of Zu-Rakeen.

The cannibals conquering the Wall of Rot, now once again roaming the free lands of Scythe they were banished from to feast on the flesh of the innocents. 
A war between the Wasterider gang and Euphoric Damnation extremist group.
Deadly chemicals exposed into the world – 8X-17 mutants, 8X-13 undead, and a weaponized form of Entity.

The armies of the Lone Musician and Maverick consolidating into one, the only formidable force of justice left on the planet.

But the one thing all of these groups had in common...was a hatred for Paragon. And it was more than deserved, as this Legacy of chaos and destruction throughout the planet...was all caused by Paragon.

Rock the full Mutation Devolution experience on Jon Of The Shred's Bandcamp here and be sure to check out all the other scintillating Scythe chapters right here on Synthetix.FM!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

LA Dreams Of Insomnia

By Rick Shithouse

The epic journey of LA Dreams into the synthual realms of emotionally driven 80s inspired synth music continues in 2014 with the release of his new album Insomnia. Can you believe this is LA Dreams eighth full length album for the year? Eight. That's something amazing right there in itself. But that this record is easily one of his best for the year, indeed ever thus far, is even more astounding.

LA Dreams seems to hit a new high point with every second album he releases and Insomnia continues that trend from the last album of his that really blew me away. I find it interesting how I approach each LA Dreams new album now, and it's certainly unlike how I approach any other producer's work. I always, without failure, start looking for differences. Different sounds, atmospheres, emotions, motifs as my fear of LA Dreams running out of ideas and recycling things is something I'm very scared of. Then the music begins, and again without failure, everything is all of sudden fresh, new and vibrant; removing all doubts in a flash of neon synth magic. The seemingly infinite well from which LA Dreams' muse springs from is hugely apparent throughout Insomnia.

I think the one main area that LA Dreams really delves deeper on every record is the emotional relationship he has to the music. It's always been there, it's always been front and centre to the experience, but on Insomnia I feel a new emotionally intimacy within the tracks. Like an understanding is achieved, a concept of true love and beauty is now explored deeply beyond the puppy-love attractions. That's not to say LA Dreams' previous records were shallow, not at all. What I'm saying is the depth to the pieces goes much, much deeper than before and the music resonates with new found understanding.

Because of the sheer volume of LA Dreams music I've been lucky enough to enjoy over the last couple of years I feel I've gotten to know the artist via his music and establish an understanding of what his music means and its place in his life as well as in mine. That's what makes his music so special to me I think, in some way I feel that with LA Dreams the same kind of kinship long-term fans have with bands/performers they've followed for decades.

The music speaks to them and it is part of their life; a constant that they use as the soundtrack to their lives through many different phases of their lives and lives of those creating the music. On a smaller scale I feel this with LA Dreams music. I feel that it speaks to me directly and gives me those magic feelings time and time again. With each new record it is a new journey into possibilities, familiarities and new anthems to my own life.

Across Insomnia LA Dreams explores all these things and more and creates lasting connections to the future, past and present along the way. The opening pieces really set an incredible scene as the production on this album seems to broaden its range and become even more lustrous. The first track, 'Insomnia' does this with a huge drum track and synths that stretch out into infinity before your very eyes as the drama of the epic refrain casts a timeless spell. The big sounds don't deny any intimacy of the melodies however as the subtle nuances are conveyed with lovingly crafted detail.

LA Dreams' flair for the dramatic gives way to jubilant 80s positivity on the second track 'Reaching For A Shooting Star'. The inspirational nature of this music is embodied in the lead melody and then goes into montage-madness overdrive throughout the successive chapters. You've just got to hand it to LA Dreams for really making 80s style melodies come to life in so many of his tracks, a life full of hope and dreams, a life that begins in the 80s and never ends.

The balance between the intimate and dramatic is done ever so well on Insomnia as the album swings from one extreme to the other with incredible dexterity. The OutRun breakneck drama of 'Feel The Burn' ensures that energy levels are peaking in the red zone from go to whoa. The pieces of this track assemble into an awesome gleaming chrome metal thunderbolt of 80s energies; striking with precision and force along a slick, black highway into the future.

There are a few really, really stand out tracks on Insomnia. By 'stand out' I mean stand out. Period. Not just on this album, not just in music by LA Dreams but stand out from all 80s inspired synth music. On 'Made A Wish' LA Dreams creates one of my favourite pieces of new 80s sounds thus far. The absolute simplicity of this track and its tremendous emotional context wash over me like an electric ocean of warm champagne. The music is felt as much as it is heard and LA Dreams mastery of the melodic structure gives the music a beautiful life of its own. Every time I listen to this record I need to experience this three to four times in a row before I can possibly move on to the next piece. If you have an 80s musical soul it will glow deeply within you throughout this genuinely enlightening piece of music.

'Taken Under' swerves out of the tenderness of the previous chapter and takes the LA Dreams sounds into funkier back alleys under the cover darkness. The flow of the energy is tidally immense and the lure of adventure in the streets of the city becomes something neither of us can resist. The joyride orchestrated by LA Dreams will take you into a night you'll never forget.

The scope of synthscapes are widened in LA Dreams' totally kick arse take on Ninja Synth with fragrantly inquisitive 'China Sundown'. The colours swelter amid a blurred horizon, instruments bring a cool clarity to the scene with the soothing beauty of the synth flutes luring you into an absolutely amazing  bass guitar driven break down. The groove is cut at the perfect angle to enhance the asiatic ambience while rockin to beat of western drum. East meets West and the the combination of sounds is blended to perfection.

One thing that I always love to muse over, with instrumental music in general, is how the title of the track relates to the music itself. Sometimes it's of a very obvious nature; sometimes it only seems that way. With 'The Weekend' LA Dreams creates in my mind the magical hour of late Friday afternoon when the promise of the weekend seems incalculable with possibilities. The anticipation of those next forty eight hours becomes so exciting and this track is like the ultimate soundtrack to making those totally rockin plans. Whether they happen or not is a different story; but right now none of that matters it's all about possibilities and so is this inspirational track.

LA Dreams is getting in the habit of finishing albums with flourishes of new ideas that break from the themes explored on the rest of the album and Insomnia is no exception. The synthscape is classed up to the max with luxurious piano details sparkling in seas of synthual auras. The bassline is certainly pushing the action towards the bedroom as a sensuality emerges and 'Things Get Lost'.
Let's hope they find them in the morning.

LA Dreams presents the Insomnia album on his Bandcamp page here in all popular digital formats. For me this is the tightest and most focused LA Dreams album this year. The emotional depth is explored with absolute honesty and clarity through every piece and the stories in every track feel keenly developed with the goal to maximise the intensity of every element; allowing nothing to be lost or any passage to become superfluous.

Insomnia is as good as LA Dreams has ever been and this album, be it from any artist, would be a huge achievement but given the clearly ridiculous work rate of LA Dreams it becomes even more amazing. Like I've said on Synthetix.FM many times before (and I hope many more times in the future) LA Dreams exemplifies so much of what I love about 80s inspired synth music and his Insomnia album is a definitive Synthetix Reference Experience in what this music is all about.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Synthetix Sundays

Just cause Marko's touring the U.S on a synthwave odyssey it doesn't mean there's no Synthetix Sundays! Filling in for Marko over the next few weeks will be RPG's own The Right Reverend Larry Lang, The Larry Lama (Lawrence Lang) rocking your world with 80s inspired synth magic.

Quality time with Rick Shithouse returns this week as well as Paul "Dress To Kill" Daly with his 100 Followers or Less segment as well as Larry's own aural delectations.

Synthetix Sundays airs on Radio Pure Gently at 10am EST/3pm UK/GMT/12pm AEDST time which is one hour earlier than usual.

Synthetix Sundays will be on every second Sunday while Marko's away and as usual the full show as well as the Quality Time With Shithouse free, purchasable and feature tracks will be added to this post on Monday.

Quality Time With Shithouse free, purchasable and feature tracks: