Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Plaisance Salutes The Kids Of The 80s

Plaisance has been producing his own brand of heavily influenced 80s synth music for nearly a year now and his releases have always made me sit up a listen. His unabashed love of authentic sounds and melodies make for some exquisite soundscapes that are often tied to perfection with an overriding thematic. His 'ocean' series of works, such as Boat People and Regatta tell beautifully detailled stories that encapsulate the 80s mythos in vivid and imaginative ways.

With his latest album Plaisance has channelled a new muse for his process and gone back to the youth of the 80s to inspire his new record. This subject matter is relatively untapped in the scene, which is surprising as the kids of the 80s were definitely the focus of the decade. Music, TV and movies seemed to be much more focused on capturing the imaginations of kids. The bright colours, simple geometry and an appreciation of fun is felt throughout this decade and this echoes throughout Plaisance's new record. Children Of The 80s is an homage to a decade when it was cool to be a kid and growing up was an option best avoided, a time when the summers lasted forever and each day promised new surprises and experiences. Let Plaisance take you by the hand and open your imagination to a new perspective.

The Plaisance sound has taken on many new influences and personalities through this album. The italo driven synths of his earlier works have been replaced with more traditionally Library oriented characteristics. I, for one, am a huge fan of Library music from the 80s and it's modern reinterpretations and Plaisance has, possibly inadvertently, made some totally rockin Library music that in many cases would be well at hope as an intro theme to a kids after school TV show or backing a hyperactive toy commercial. From the outset, with '1980' Plaisance makes it very clear this is not going to be tied to traditional reinterpretations of 80s synth, from the dancing xylophones to the synthesised sax the soundscape rises like a refreshing breeze, cool and wistful with boundless energy.

As the album continues into tracks like 'Kids' and 'One Happy Family' a candy coloured idealism takes the tone into the perfect dreams that really never come true, but still provide masses of optimism. The melodies are full of glorious chintz and are sweetened to dangerous levels but the soundscape is so vibrant and oozing in positivity that the whole experience blends with an honesty that is pure Plaisance.

'Rock Slide' ushers in some very imaginative sounds and arrangements that sparkle with a frenetic energy that bounces happily in an out colourful dimensions and layered with a constant stream of aural details that add even more action. This feels like the ultimate kids science TV show theme song; I can see many visuals of kids being astounded by rudimentary science experiments all cut in fast time with the pace of the music, accompanied by bouncing question marks and science related symbology.

The time for making learning fun has ended as play time begins with Plaisance's great little homage to classic video game soundtracks: 'Continue?'. Fighting game samples and more energetic melodies bring to life virtual battle that takes place on TV and arcade machine screens, and still does today. The action moves into moonlit bedrooms, well past our bed times, with the throughly awesome 'Pyjamaninja'. Plaisance's take on ninja synth is delightfully executed with eastern melodies backlighting the onslaught of home made cardboard shurikens and broom-katanas. The always engaging naivety of Plaisance's sound adds so much playfulness to this track; it genuinely captures the atmosphere of childlike wonder over the magic of the ninja.

'First Kiss' takes the innocence of childhood and crystallises the moments we remember forever. Melodies are bright and illicit those feelings of walking on air and the glimpses of maybe growing up just a little. The bassline of this track really carries the moods beautifully and take you back to the time when a kiss was just a kiss, and that was more than exciting enough. It's a superbly written piece that really tells a story full of new emotions and possibilities. Conversely, 'Dreams And Nightmares' delves into more of a solitary space, where one is left to one's own subconscious and logic isn't a necessary part of the experience. The soundscape grows dark with shadows as fears are visualised with synths creating eerie and haunting melodies.

As time passes and we begin to grow up just that little bit more and the changes we go through to becoming adults begins, and that 'First Kiss' starts you down a path to more 'earthly delights'. In 'Basinger, Wilde And Me' Plaisance takes us down that path to more night time fun, that doesn't involve us dressing us ninjas this time and is instead much more about being transfixed on that late night music video show.. with the volume turned down as low as possible. Scantily clad melodies entice and jiggle before us while our mind and pulse race with each pounding, lascivious beat.

The end of the decade and the end of a period of our lives is signified by '1990'. The soundscape reflects this with a decidedly late 80s piano refrain looped over those familiar early techno rhythms. The lights of the night usher in a new age as childhood is left behind and the new promise of a decade full of new adventures and experiences beckons.

Our childhood thusly completes, as Plaisance has told it, and the stories told within are equally magical and familiar in their ability to conjure such memories. I found this album completely relatable to my own childhood in the 80s, and the record provides a wonderful window to look back through to past times and experiences. The music hits all the right notes at the right times and it's chronological chapters make for a perfect experience of recounting a childhood that no doubt many had shared in a similar manner.

Plaisance presents the Children Of The 80s album on his Bandcamp page here. Unlike many albums in the 80s inspired synth scene that go over all to familiar territory this record presents something new and engaging that captures emotions and spirits with a new context. I think there are very few producers in the scene who could have created this kind of album with such honesty and authenticity, and I'm very pleased that Plaisance did and did it so well. Children Of The 80s is a story many of us will share in, but all of those that listen and let it into their hearts will experience the 80s just that little bit more vicariously through the magic of the music and the magic of Plaisance.

Synthetix.FM very highly recommends this album to all fans of 80s inspired synth and applauds Plaisance for such wonderful creativity in making this concept album so totally rockin to the max.

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