Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Video Home System Brings The Cinema Into Your Living Room

As time goes on it's really interesting to find what hallmarks of yesteryear are remembered so fondly decades later. One of these little niche things that crops up frequently in the 80s inspired synth scene is the fond remembrance of VHS as a format that, in recent times, has gained an air of resolute sentimentalism. In the age of digital high definition video being commonplace in most parts of the world now, on nearly any device with a screen, I find it endearing that the VHS format, and it's shortcomings, has become and icon of the 80s that is now revered and emulated.

The days of tracking errors and chroma shift are long gone, but what they stood for in the grander scheme of things lives on. Indeed, it was VHS as a technology that changed the way consumers could watch media, but the industry it inspired, particularly the home video market, was yet another past time that is fading into obscurity. Video Home System has created an homage to the phenomenon of
this truly 80s technology delivered via a self titled seven track EP, bringing together the worlds of low resolution analogue color and thoughtfully constructed synth music.

From the classic home video studio ideas, to high synth drama and a myriad of other passages that harken back to classic Library and soundtrack synth pieces, Video Home System has made an enduring monument to the glory of VHS and its place in history.

The EP opens up strong and brilliant. Dazzling synths sparkle and soar with firework bursts of aural colour. 'And Now For Our Featured Presentation' is instantly recognisable as a classic studio ID from your favourite home video company complete with mirrored chrome and high action animation. Within seconds you're 'there' and you know theres going to be much more excitement to come.

Track two works some heavy duty synth funk into proceedings with delightfully chintzy synth melodies riding a somehow sleazy yet wholesome bassline. The authenticity of the instrumentation begins to shine in this track, the sparse soundscape allows for an uncomplicated live sound which comes across beautifully. The music really takes on a life of it's own as 'Chrominance' rocks on.

'Chase (Freeze, Sucka)' allows Video Home System to fabricate a new preview for the summers biggest action cop blockbuster. This track reminds me a great deal of Wang Chung's soundtrack work in To Live And Die In LA, which is assuredly meant as a compliment. The pounding drums and undulating synth rhythms are accented by dramatic leads and pointed police radio samples. As the sirens begin to close in the music fades out for the final stand off between justice and a mad man.

Rockin into track four, the beautifully bouncy bassline leads us into a synthscapade full of classic Library passages. 'Master Control Program' intimates sci-fi themed futurism with technology becoming humanity's enemy and a hero must rise to stop this monstrous threat. The melodies are action packed with an anthem like quality that is full of hope. It's a wild ride into the future that might spell doom for us all, like all great previews it always leaves us wanting more.

'Pulse Code Manipulation' finds Video Home System travelling into more metaphysical realms of aural enlightenment, melodic refrains ask questions and beg for further introspection as their paths are laid out before us in patterns and modulations. It's the uncomplicated nature of the production that adds so much refinement to this piece, the layers are crafted majestically and usher in all manner of imaginative possibilities.

Something from far left field arrives in the next chapter 'Head Cleaner'. Synthesised reggae vibes echo and with extended delay and jam along to the warbling melodies. It surprises me how little of this genre is explored in the modern take on 80s synth as reggae was hugely popular throughout the 80s, and synth interpretations of it were certainly not uncommon. This track feels like the perfect soundtrack to an 80s wine cooler commercial, with luscious bikini babes and playful surfer dudes showing how ideal their lifestyle is, and yours can be. Cheers!

The final piece on the EP is 'Five Keys'. I found this track very engaging as it takes the live sounding production to new levels with it's freeform structure. The bass and guitar tracks are absolutely rockin a classic Jan Hammer styled soundtrack piece that would be very at home on any episode of Miami Vice. The languid nature of the track really puts you in that Miami frame of mind, the sun sets and the night comes alive with the dangers and thrills of the shadowy underworld.

Video Home System has captured the spirit and times when VHS really was something very special, this EP is full of great nuances and details that tell a new story in every piece while keeping the authenticity of the soundscape a priority. All the elements come together and create an experience that focuses the wonder and promise this new technological experience could afford.

Video Home System presents this self titled EP on their Bandcamp page here for digital download and also as a limited edition hand signed CD. I encourage all fans of 80s synth music to give this a close and attentive listen, the stories within are exciting and engaging and full of 80s magic. I'm unsure as to whether this is a one-off project or an ongoing concern for the producer, so I can only hope for more rockin good times with Video Home System in the future.


  1. This band I never hearded before. About that I am very impressed on which level this EP is produced. Very authentic. They got a new fan ;)

  2. Thank you, Norman, we're big AlphaBoy fans ourselves! And thank you Synthetix, for your kind words and lovely review. Again, we really appreciate it!

  3. This is great, really feel like it took me back to my childhood...in a delorian. thanks for posting!