Thursday, May 29, 2014

LA Dreams In Vivid Colors

What is 80s inspired synth music anyway?

When it gets down to brass tacks and deciding what constitutes something 80s, how does this get quantified or decided? This is a question I ask myself on a near daily basis when listening to new music. 'Is this 80s sounding?'
What the hell does that mean?

This week numerous releases have come out from producers who've been often given love on Synthetix.FM and I've found their current music doesn't 'fit' into 80s styles predominantly anymore. I could hear it and feel that the 80s just wasn't the driving force behind it.

Such is the progression and evolution of styles and with much of the harder edge of dark electro synthwave  coming out I've found that stepping back and listening to it from a perspective of 'Is this 80s sounding?' has left me answering 'No, it isn't'. This gets back to how that can be quantified, and then things become harder to explain.

The 80s sounds and emotions are what drives the music I cover on Synthetix.FM. This is evidenced most readily in the melodies present in music. An 80s melody is something that you know when you hear it. It's got a magic about it that feels a certain way. Whether it's keyboard, guitar or sax, or vocal you know when it's 80s. Listen to an MPM synth melody, a Myrone guitar riff or a Rain Sword synth lead and you know it. You feel it. That's the magic right there. And that's what captures my imagination and makes me fall in love with the sounds of the 80s inspired music created today.

I find that when LA Dreams releases a new record it's almost like a 'reset point' to me. I can go off on tangents and really enjoy the diversity of the music being created and then when that LA Dreams magic kicks in it's like coming home again. The reason I fall in love with this music happens all over again and it's like an endless series of first dates that contain all the nervous anticipation and excitement each time.

For some reason, LA Dreams' new record hit me harder than usual this time. Maybe it was the harsher side of synth music of late had coloured my palette with darker aspects and the intensity of things became a tad numb, or maybe it's just that with his lower work rate in 2014 (haha, comparatively!) there becomes more appreciation of his sounds. I don't know what it was but this album sang directly to me, and in the epic words of The Cars; it was just what I needed.

The LA Dreams experience reaches out in new directions on this album, it's nothing that is going make anyone's jaws drop, but much like how revered Nintendo franchise games get given slight upgrades instead of massive overhauls I found the small changes that LA Dreams has included in Vivid Colors makes a big difference. 'Open Air' sets a scene of classic synth romance atmosphere with climbing melodies and a methodical build that rises with total 80s brilliance. There appears to be more clarity in this release from LA Dreams and this track indicates a wider synthscape being home to the individual elements.  This slicker production adds even more gloss to the already polished beauty.

Dramatic synths are set ablaze in the high energy 'The Last Goodbye' as the simplicity of the melody is given immense power and focus through the incredibly exciting arrangements. The passages chase and overtake with magnificent back-and-forth between the music's elements. This is what LA Dreams does incredibly well, consistently, and it never fails to captivate me.

One of the most rockin new facets of the LA Dreams sound is that 'When I'm With You' contains the first vocal track in an LA Dreams track (that I'm aware of). The vocoded refrain makes this track really jump and the percussion has a more live crispness about which gives a more band-like aesthetic to the soundscape. It works exceptionally well and makes this piece not only one of the stand out tracks on Vivid Colors, but one of LA Dreams stand out tracks overall.. and we know just how many there are of them to stand out from!

Smooth moods of synthual pleasures flow with incredible beauty through 'Impulsive' as the controlled nature allows for an intimate ambience to be created. Subtlety turns to tides of powerful emotive strains. Wavering melodies are given more and more confidence until the eloquently worded love poem speaks directly from the heart. This leads into the more intense passages of 'Morning After' which trades off the intensity of the leading refrains with much more understated pieces that move in intriguing patterns.

'Un-Said' brings in inquisitive melodies and introduces some rockin guitars to a funky jam that rolls smooth and silk and bounces with loving positivity. The LA Dreams magic shines in each second of this piece and creates a time capsule of beautiful 80s synthscapes. This track moves into another huge high point of the album in 'Fearless Generation'. The sheer power this track commands is breathtaking with monstrously huge drums driving an engine room of exceptionally constructed synth elements. The presence of this piece is awe inspiring and if it wasn't for the final track, this would be my favourite piece on Vivid Colors.

Which brings us to the final track on the album. Titled 'Burning Desires' this piece of music is not only one of the most amazing LA Dreams experiences I've had the pleasure of listening to, but also one of the most kick arse tunes I've heard in the modern 80s scene, period. The funk is turned up and out well and beyond dangerous levels and the groove is cut deeper than the Grand Canyon as 'Burning Desires' rocks like a classic 80s pop gem should. Dancing saxophones add even more explosive power to track and each breakdown and return to the lead synth melody is an epic 80s epiphany of totally k-rad rockin magic. 'Burning Desires' just kills it on every conceivable level.

LA Dreams presents the Vivid Colors album on his Bandcamp page here and Synthetix.FM very, very highly recommends this release to all fans of 80s inspired synth music. Everything you know and love about LA Dreams is rockin in some super kick arse new ways while he retains that implicit gift he has for creating 80s emotions via synthesized music. Feel that LA Dreams magic, let it into your heart and let those beautiful retro vibes welcome you back home again in a long, warm embrace.


  1. very interesting review Rick :)

  2. Nice write up and dissection, I myself do hear the progression of specific producers, that is natural, but sometimes they lose their original glow and often become generic or predictable. I really have found myself drawn to the 80's synthwave/chillwave/whatever wave genre. Love Sellorekt/LA Dreams!

  3. He actually has a vocal on "as fast as I can" off of different places, that plus the vocal collab he did with kye munroe "no other" which I'm praying he will make available for purchase (or at least put back on soundcloud :)