Saturday, August 10, 2013

Synthetix Weekend Update

The discussion about genres and titles in the 80s inspired synth scene is one that crops up regularly in the Synthetix Music group on Facebook. It's a likely reason for the scene being so fractured in that there isn't an overriding genre title that everyone can agree on. By far the most common name attributed to the music is Synth Wave, which is has been around for a few years now and is commonly used. But what does it mean?

One of the biggest issues I have with this name is that it has connotations with New Wave. New Wave is possibly the broadest and most meaningless descriptors in all of pop music. It means so little and has many, many different interpretations and none of them are specific to anything. To quote the Wikipedia entry for New Wave:

"The catch all nature of new wave music has been a source of much confusion and controversy. The 1985 discography Who's New Wave in Music listed artists in over 130 separate categories. The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock uses the term "virtually meaningless" in its definition of new wave, while Allmusic mentions "stylistic diversity"."

Therein lies my own personal issue with giving 80s inspired synth music the blanket term of synth wave and that is that is that it doesn't mean anything. It's a genre that people need to listen to first and then learn that it's synth wave. The ambiguity of the name just doesn't resonate with me, but my perspective is of course tinged with the memories of New Wave. Then again perhaps the stylistic diversity of 80s inspired synth that ranges from soundtrack to italo to pop synth sounds actually benefits from the blurred definition drawn from New Wave?

The music covered on Synthetix.FM is genre specific music. All the music contains similar sounds, arrangements and emotions, albeit executed through different musical styles that are defined as being 80s as their unifying motif.  Like any type of music that is drawn from similar influences to create something that reflects that inspiration. I often draw similarities between the metal scenes and the 80s synth scene, and under the blanket term of heavy metal you have tens of variations and they all have hallmarks of their specific genres that make them what they are.

I remember when dubstep first surfaced and I had no idea what it meant. Initially I thought it was some kind of dub-reggae based music from the name, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Nowadays everyone understands what dubstep means and for better or for worse the music pigeon holed as dubstep is very specific.  I believe that, eventually, the names for the genres and an overall definition will come into being on it's own for 80s inspired synth music and this will take time.

Perhaps Synth Wave will become 'the' name? For this to happen the producers of the music need to embrace this name and push it as a brand they're associated with. Through creating these ideas in movements the name will become adopted. But people need to know what it means first and the ambiguity needs to be focused much more.

I must say, this is all just my personal opinion, and may in no way reflect your own opinions. I'm just a fan of this music not an expert but this is a constant issue that will keep on cropping up and I wanted to explain my own thoughts on the subject. To the producers of the music I love I'd just like to say that it's your art and exists only because of your love and passion and how you define your music in genres is entirely up to yourself.

Now, lets get rockin with the latest Synthetix Weekend Update!

First up is a hot new experience from Garth Knight. In 'Subroutine' Garth Knight explores hypnotically atmospheric with totally rockin computer speech samples. An air of Kraftwerk emanates throughout this piece and gives this producers work yet another dimensional soundscape to work in. 

PH Groove is back with more of his disco funk gold with his new release 'Fascinated'. The pounding rhythms and high energy drums make for an adventure full of flashing colours and glinting mirror balls. This track is currently available for FREE download through the link in the player.

It was brought to my attention this week that the name 'Gina Calabrese' was the name of one of the detectives in Miami Vice thanks to RF Extreme. The actually identity of the Gina Calabrese making music in the scene today may never be know, but one thing for sure is, whoever they are, they make totally rockin tracks. 'Tale Of The Goat' is another emotive soundtrack styled affair that ebbs and flows with much beauty and grandeur.

This past week found Rutger Megahertz dancing with extreme danger in his rockin giallo disco flavoured 'Texas Chainsaw Italo'. The production on this piece adds greatly to it's off kilter nature,  hiding terror in the shadows, but not before we dance like demons. This track is currently available for FREE download too. Coming up next week I'll be covering the new Rutger Megahertz EP: Enter Frame for more rockin action.

Future City Records has just released the new Cosmic Sand EP entitled Find Me At The Bay Tonight, consisting of two originals in 'Find Me' and '9h00' and three remixes of '9h00'. The first track sets the stage for epic synth glaciers of melody that reverberate deeply. Sounds are curved and based on ethereal matter that speaks of other times and dimensions while always remaining entrancing. '9h00' provides an entirely different aesthetic with more traditional sensibilities creating a synthscape of dancing melodies with a hint of moroseness but still marching with jubilant triumph. The three remixes of '9h00' take the ideas of the original in different directions that work quite well for Vincenzo Salvia and the surprisingly uplifting vision by Nightcrawler, but fall over in the modernist interpretation by Dorian.

The two originals on their own make for a wonderfully rich experience, however, and I definitely recommend picking this EP up and supporting the fantastic soundscapes realised by Cosmic Sand.

Robots With Rayguns walks a line that crosses over back and forth with 80s ideas and more modern influences but his latest track is firmly entrenched in glorious 80s sounds and emotions. 'Hush' is an intimate display of synth sensuality layered with the trademark RWR indistinguishable yet always familiar vocal sample cut ups. This track is full of vibrancy and energy while keeping an affectionate warmth deep in it's heart.

For those unaware there is a brand new documentary due for release this year focusing on the video game arcades of the early 80s called 'The Video Craze'. The soundtrack has been provided by many of the talented producers in the 80s inspired synth scene, including Lost Years, Silent Gloves and Mitch Murder. Lazerhawk has also created music for the production and the title track has just been released this week. The mellow and sentimental melodies are accented by the vocal refrain that is both haunting and endearing. This track is available currently for FREE download through the player, but make sure you follow all the rockin happenings of 'The Video Craze' on their Facebook page here

Like Mowrey keeps on rockin with his brand of synth based creations that are full of wonder and possibilities. 'Tikal Secrets' finds Like Mowrey travelling to new dimensions that twist and distort with a galactic resonance. This track is epic in nature and covers a lot of ground but the adventure is spectacular from beginning to end.

Taking a trip to the darker side is a producer new to Synthetix.FM going under the great title of Surgeryhead. His new track 'High School Blood' is totally kick arse horror synth with visceral stabs and  showers of crimson amid an array of samples. The music is unrelenting and builds in spectacular fashion, finishing with final crescendo of rampant evil violence. Available for FREE download through the player below.

In an inspired move, that I hope happens more often with other producers, Alpha Boy has made a Best Of compilation and released it in cassette format through Bandcamp. The 15 previously released tracks plus 1 unreleased track all contained on the always rockin cassette format provides the ultimate Alpha Boy experience. Pick up your own copy through his Bandcamp here while you can as they are a strictly limited edition.

Coming out of nowhere from the past and rockin into the future is Sam Haggblad with his totally rockin new two track EP Jammin' (To The Beat). The pop drama is set to dangerous levels as 'Jammin' (To The Beat)' takes shape with massive orchestral stabs and a totally killer vocal track. Hugely authentic and overflowing with passion for the 80s this track just plain rocks. The B side, 'Machines (Or Back To Humans)' takes the sound into more guitar driven dimensions but retaining the true 80s love. Shades of progressive late 80s synth sounds combined with more early 80s pop sensibilities make for a k-rad to the max follow up to the strong A side. These two tracks are from the upcoming full length album Never Say Never which I'll be sure to cover on Synthetix.FM based on the strength of these two songs.

Bobby Outro is back with a kick arse new tune in FM Hacker. The story in this is deep and varied, rocking a gamut of synthscapes while keep a direct focus on the lead melodic refrain. The production has a vast, echoing quality to it that adds greatly to the ambiance. Bobby Outro once again uses many inspirations and influences to creating something all together new.

In what is definitely the most epic piece of music I've heard this week we have a spectacular piece of soundtrack synth music from Saint Remy titled 'As The Fog Clears'. This producer has been predominantly creating more modern experiences in the past but his love of 80s sounds is definitely developing a great deal of late. 'As The Fog Clears' is nine plus minutes of aural rapture that is full of deep chapters that flesh out an uplifting narrative of incredible beauty. Entrancing from the first second to the last, this is sublime work in the field of melody driven soundtrack synth.

Our final piece in this week's Weekend Update on Synthetix.FM is the return of scene favourite Neros77 with his incredible video from STARFORCE's Omniversal Oscillations. Using clips from the 1984 classic Reckless and a myriad of cosmic themed elements Neros77 has created a masterpiece video for a masterpiece track. A synergy of music and video works within in ways only a true artist can envision. Inspiring work.

That does us for another Weekend Update on Synthetix.FM. I hope you've found some new favourites amidst the rockin tunes this week and I look forward to sharing more with you over the next week.
'Til then, stay 80s and keep on rockin.

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