As we ring in the changes on Synthetix.FM it brings me great pleasure to present to you the all new AIRBORNE! AIRBORNE has been taken from its previous home in the Weekend Update and is now going to be its own weekly post with a focus on EP's and new producers. So it's time to hand things over to some of the wonderful new talent that I hope will be regular contributors to Synthetix.FM with the all new maximum rockin AIRBORNE feature reviews on Synthetix.FM!
Arcade High - Heat Wave
By Andrew B. White
By Andrew B. White
Heatwave is the latest release from Pittsburgh's Arcade High on the highly regarded Telefuture label. True to Arcade High's previous releases, the Heatwave EP maintains their signature sound, covering several bases without sounding disjointed. There is a mix of chip tune/video game, OutRun, synthwave and synth pop merging together in Arcade High's 'raison d'être'. Songs are predominantly instrumental but usually feature at least one vocal track as is the case on the Heatwave EP. The title track features the vocals of Morissa Trunzo and could well be the break-out/crossover song that puts a synthwave artists into the pop charts. Stylistically, Trunzo's vocals fit alongside current pop stars like Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande who have very direct and solid, musical voices. This in turn works very well to complement the direct pop attack of 'Heatwave'.
Arcade High's Ryan Boosel says on his Bandcamp page that with this release he "wanted to create dancy, energized tracks, with specific attention paid to tightening my production as much as possible." Certainly 'Heatwave' as a single is a result of this and will no doubt become a summer anthem for 2014. Watch this space to see how high it rises. The rest of the EP features instrumental numbers – 'Runaways' is the most 'video game' sounding track on the EP - upbeat, breezy with nice little percussion and sound breaks; 'Coney Island' starts off with a retro sample that sets the scene perfectly to imagine the Brooklyn boardwalk lit up at night with sideshows and sizzling summer crowds (I can imagine a great video being made to accompany this track). The EP's last track and my personal favourite 'Coastline' has all the elements of a great instrumental track – nice build-ups and break downs, some great synth sounds, subtle guitars and that emotional feel-good vibe that picks you right up.
As with all Arcade High releases the cover art is very cool and the EP is available as a download, physical CD or t-shirt/CD bundle. Arcade High fans will be very happy with this release and it will surely win them a raft of new followers. Grab "Heatwave" now for your summer soundtrack!
Ace Attack - The Chase (O.S.T)
By Jules Hobson
French producer Ace Attack hasn't dropped original tracks in over a year but his The Chase O.S.T highlights the power and force of the OutRun sub-genre creating an encapsulating and enthralling listen. The string samples rise and fall to excellent effect on the track ‘Eponyme’ which eludes to a late night chase through the rainy, neon soaked streets of Shanghai while the driving beat and fast paced arpeggiated synths of ‘To Escape’ brings the release to a close with a bang. While his ‘I Can Make You Dance’ EP has no release date yet, the near future looks exciting for Ace Attack and his fans.
STREET JUSTICE - Connection LA
by Chris Day
Many know synthwave as combining modern music with 80s synthpop and new wave. Evidently, “Connection LA” by Street Justice is one of those works that sounds extremely convincing as actual 80s music despite coming out barely more than a month ago. While the melodies are sometimes reminiscent of the nu disco that defines much of the more mainstream synthwave, any side chain compression proves subtle enough that I failed to notice it, a huge contrast to most modern EDM, and the instrument choices are pretty diverse, from spoken word samples (complete in 8-bit quality like early samplers) to digital bellsynths.
Street Justice doesn’t stop there with his outstanding work, though: the EP as a whole is reminiscent of 80s concept albums in that some tracks, like “Can I Take You Rollerblading,” are driving and powerful, while others, such as “Winter in LA,” lack drums, or rather, drum machines, completely, in favor of a haunting atmosphere a la Brian Eno. Overall, a very impressive gem in the retro scene, and definitely worth checking out!
Duett - Rituals EP
By Shazeb Bhatti
Duett, a brand new synth duo from London, just released their new EP Rituals via Modal Recordings. Rituals, though only 3 tracks long, is beautiful. Not since Paul have we heard synth so smooth. What makes Duett unique is not only the quality and saturation of their synth, but also the mystical and spiritual feelings their synth elicits. Very rarely do we come across a synthwave act that delivers in every track.
Their first track, 'Principle', is perhaps their greatest. The synth in 'Principle' is both nostalgic and fresh at the same time. What makes Duett unique is their minimalistic approach to instruments. 'Principle' features maybe 3 or 4 different synth variations and a kick-ass drum sample and that’s all it takes for Duett to create a masterpiece. 'Principle' is both uplifting and hypnotic, and features a sound almost reminiscent of that in Miami Horror’s Sometimes EP.
Duett’s second track, 'Contrast', is also brilliant. 'Contrast', much like Principle, is uplifting and spiritually intriguing. It features choppy, catchy synth riffs and an interesting synth-bass line. What makes the track so unique is the almost spiritual effect it creates upon the listener. 'Contrast' has hypnotic synth riffs that are perhaps its biggest selling point. The third track from the EP is unlike the first two. 'Rituals' is far more mellow, and far slower than the rest of Duett’s tracks. Rituals features a very slow, but rhythmic build up, and is definitely more elegant in composition than the previous tracks. Rituals is more of a blend between dreamwave and soundtrack synth, making it perfect for plenty of audio-visual applications and experiences.