Even though it's only the later part of January, I'm beginning to notice a trend in the batch of releases that have surfaced this year. In nearly everything I'm hearing from producers who debuted last year I can feel a development and maturing of sounds and ideas. One only has to look back to some of the early releases from last year to a producer's latest track to hear this, it's something that should happen of course, but it's something that is now becoming much more persistant.
The 80s inspired synth scene is a microcosm of a microcosm. The nature of genre specific music is that it carries the traits of the genre throughout, but it's these perceived traits that are now blossoming and growing into forms still defined by their source but also exploring new ideas, methods and formulations. Like all music there is going to be a natural evolution and the scene is currently populated with producers expanding beyond their safe zones and taking risks they weren't in 2012. The artist that attempts to mark their own individual sound is one that will flourish in 2013, whereas those that stick to the base specifics will, I believe, become lost amid the other soundalikes.
It's only when Lost Formats came out in October last year that I realised how firm Betamaxx's grip is on what makes 80s synth great. Lost Formats, reviewed on Synthetix
here, cemented this producer's sound in my mind. Being able to listen to essentially a whole year of Betamaxx in one place displayed this to me this very succinctly. This release really made me start to pay a great deal more attention to Betamaxx and in his new album I feel my attention is well and truly rivetted to the Betamaxx experience.
Interface allows the listener to drink in beautiful neon atmospheres of spacious synth sounds and finely crafted melodies. The diversity represented on this album is stunning, so many different styles are explored but the quality of the experience remains very high throughout. As Lost Formats showed much dabbling in the classic 80s styles, Interface takes this smorgasboard of synth delicacies to even higher gourmet levels with delights that fill the senses and inspire the imagination.
The album never feels like a ragtag group of musical experiments though, no. It feels carefully planned and conceived with the goal to make the Betamaxx sound eminate throughout the eleven tracks with a resounding presence and energy all it's own. Almost every single sub-genre of 80s inspired synth is present in Interface. The romance of the 80s juxtaposed with drama and electro action, soulful soundtrack moods contrasted by energized italo funk. It's all in here, and it all feels right at home.
The instruments used on this record are some of Interface's most impressive features. Synth sounds are wonderfully developed with gorgeous tonal qualities, as one would expect, but the cast other sounds on the album are what makes the musical atmosphere really come into it's own. The depth of percussion is superb, powerful snares and crisp details fill the sound stage while the bass lines and choices for their sounds are astonishingly refreshing. These ingredients mix and combine in each track making for a tasty and exciting treat in every single morsel of every course.
As the album takes on the many flavours and dimensions of the 80s one begins to feel the Betamaxx soul in each track. Recurring nuances and arrangements that sound brand new, soundscapes that one initially feels familiar with become unrecognisable and invigorating in their freshness. The moods of each vignette never feel like false but instead have a clean sincerity in absolutely every second of Interface's duration. Some of these experiences, however, feel a little truncated with fade outs that seem to come all too soon when they initially promised so much more. Most of these are designated as interludes, but one can't help but think they to deserved as much presence as the other set pieces.
It's records like Interface that are going to raise the bar for every producer of 80s inspired synth music. The fear of genre-stagnation becomes a non sequitor as the creative forces in producer's such as Betamaxx are currently gathering tidal strength in making exciting, authentic and inspiring new musical experiences. I hope Interface is a shining example of what's to come in 2013, as the sky really seems the limit, but the stars feel like the destination.
Interface is available on Betamaxx's Bandcamp here and comes thoroughly recommended as a wonderfully engaging album of quality 80s synth experiences from Synthetix.