Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tokyo Rose Gives Chase

The flow and evolution in the sounds created in the 80s inspired synth scene are always fascinating to me. Where the next inspiration comes from, where the next album takes their sound and what combinations of sounds they can make work together. It's funny that in 2014 where there is such diversity that a release like Tokyo Rose's Chases manages to stand out so much. Not for its new ideas or avant garde writing but instead for being unabashed, unbridled and unrepentant pure OutRun synth that feels absolutely fresh and exhilarating.

OutRun seems an inherent part of the 80s inspired synth nomenclature, but seldom does it seem to be well defined and instead is often an idea or a feeling and rarely does it seem understood. As a style of music OutRun is the epitome of the 'night driving' aesthetic with melodies basking in their own brash swagger, drums pounding with power and ferocity and each passage feeling like a high speed chase through neon lit city streets. The hallmarks of OutRun are perhaps deemed 'unoriginal' by some in 2014 but the fact of the matter is, as far as I am concerned, that OutRun's magic is its innate ability to put you right there, on the road, tearing it up at a ridiculously high speed with adrenalin pumping excitement instantly.

It pains me that videogame franchises such as Ridge Racer, Midnight Club, BurnOut and other great racing game series are not deemed viable in the current console market place as they'd all benefit, greatly, from an OutRun soundtrack. If the high speed, high action death defying racing game ever make a resurgence, I hope the developers see this music as the true soundtrack to it.

I digress, however and put my wishful thinking aside as we get rockin with the opening track: 'Cruis'n'. From whispered beginnings the melodies roar to life, revving with more and more intensity and breaking loose and accelerating into the horizon. Tokyo Rose works the melodies with a brightness and skill that hooks deeply, disassembling them and then modifying them with supercharged force before taking it back out on the road.

When it comes to the modern versus vintage sounds I think that OutRun is truly the bridging genre between worlds as we have to deep intensity of building modern configurations around melodies that emanate pure 80s gloss. '走り屋' or 'Street Racer' rumbles onto the grid with mechanised thundering and blasts into glory with a triumphantly brilliant melody that even sounds like the roar of an engine passing at high speed. Modern arrangements accentuate the raw power of the melody and paint a dramatic back drop to the thrilling action.

Tokyo Rose has a real gift for constructing these OutRun melodies. Each track has an aural element that feels driven by high octane forces and is charged with thousands of horsepower. In 'Heat' the melodies even feel like they're racing each other, handbrake turning through impossible corners and overtaking the competition only to be overtaken on the next corner. The duel is dangerously played out in a breakneck ballet of automotive artistry.

Somehow the intensity is pushed up even further on track four, 'Hot Pursuit' which brings in a rambunctious synth refrain the sweats radness and kicks caution squarely in the arse. The presence is undeniably macho and hot-blooded. This track's getting all the chicks and all we can do is sit back and wonder if the sirens are ever going to catch up to him. Unforgiving and raw in its base elements, this piece is exactly what makes OutRun rock so damned hard.

Chases finishes with 'The Getaway' and Tokyo Rose structures this pieces with a refrain erring on the side of caution as the sirens get closer. Deftly ducking through back streets and keeping a low profile the music finally surfaces with engines roaring and nitrous burning. An all out assault that doesn't go unnoticed and law enforcement is back our tail, this time though we've got a helicopter drops down from the heavens to keep us in close company. The ante had been well and truly upped. A wry grin flashes in the rear vision mirror and the ending credits appear, leaving a sequel opportunity just begging to be created to continue the story.

Tokyo Rose presents the Chases EP on his Bandcamp page here and what we get for $5 is five heart pumping, asphalt scorching OutRun thrill rides. There is such a visceral pleasure one experiences in such a pure form of this music and it's an experience very, very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM. However, Synthetix.FM takes no responsibility for the speeding tickets this music is bound to incur while driving. Use with caution on the open road.