TZARR - Dreams Don't Die
By Jazzi Marzcat
Coming from the midwest of the USA, is the master of the dance floor: TZARR. He is a music producer, and professional DJ, who has been producing his own music since 2008 (you can find past songs on YouTube here). Dreams Don't Die is the 3rd release from TZARR, and is one incredible and danceable album, with five songs, (plus a bonus song when you buy it!). The cover shows the knobs of mixing equipment in electrifying bright colors; it reflects the electrifying upbeat, and funky cool songs on this EP that are just a lot of fun to listen to!
For the title song, we're introduced by a flashy synth melody, and an alluring bass, a bit reminiscent to the bass line on the the intro to David Bowie's 80s hit 'Modern Love'. The song continues with a voice sample from the X-Men character Cyclops from the Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter video game, strongly pronouncing that "Dreams Don't Die!". The song is a super groovy disco, with a thumping drum beat and bass, and as the sample is repeated through out the song, I found it very uplifting and empowering. This feeling is completely driven home with the sample quote at the end of the song, from the cartoon Outlaw Star, that says: "Only one thing can be certain, a boy has the right to dream. . ."
The fun continues, as the voice sample states, "All systems go!". The second song 'Stardust Orchestra' flies you off into the depths of the cosmos for a groovy disco adventure. TZARR felt he saw an epic battle going down in outer space with this track. Synths swirl, and rocking guitar leads join in this fantastic melody! Just one really awesome dance song!
TZARR also has the unique ability to take song and vocal samples, and while manipulating their speeds within a song, still keep a cohesive pace going. This is achieved with adding awesome dance beats, sweet melodies, and slapping bass lines, that makes it all fits together in the song. It's an element that keeps the songs interesting to listen to and fun dance to.
This is evident in the song 'Casino', where a very familiar song from The Whispers 'Love Thing', is dramatically sped up. It lends to the feeling of the stakes rising and the chips falling! Quite the speed during which someone has it their stride! The song 'Style/Class' is at a normal pace for most of the song (and by the way has the most sexiest and most awesome bass lines, and a groovy retro disco melody), but it slows down at the end, which brings the listener right into the next song. 'Digital Smoke' is for your pure vaporwave enjoyment, or as my English friends would say vapourwave, of which this song seriously does pour out the slowed down beats, deliciously deep bass line, and sweet savored melodies. And just when you thought it couldn't get any slower, it does just that by the end of the song!! A total chilled out track!
The bonus track '1984 Inner City Prom' was quite the surprise when I opened my download of the album. With a very cool dance beat, the song's lyrics are repeated with "tonight is our night". It makes for a very nice send off for a very enjoyable album!
I asked TZARR the inspiration behind the title song and the album itself and he told me: "I think that music stopped being fun for the sake of it. With Dreams Don't Die, it's a tribute to those goals we had to put down before we got older. They never stopped being important to us, we just had to pursue other dreams." He also said that one of his goals behind producing this kind of music is to get the chance to play it when he DJ's so that people can have a fun time. It's without doubt just that with the well composed and delightful songs on this EP, TZARR is surely on his path to making his dreams a reality. You can get this awesome release here on Bandcamp.
Killstarr - Memories
By Julian Hobson
"In 2186, music had been all but forgotten… until Killstarr arrived…"
Hailing from Melbourne, Killstarr burst onto the scene with a Soundcloud track titled 'Summer Drive', a smooth, nostalgic piece that captured the hearts of listeners and hinted at an exciting future for the producer. Fast forward four months and his debut EP, Memories, graces us with the same brand of enchanting synthwave, yet more refined and gleaming aided by the addition of Jon of the Shred’s excellent guitar work on several tracks.
'Standing in the Rain' opens with a singular chord reminiscent of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks theme. Chilled and gentle, the track just settles in before an ecstatic guitar solo rips through the air, elevating the track to new heights. Elsewhere the synths and guitars shine, Killstarrs’ youthful touch highlighted on the updated 'Summer Drive', now complete with a killer guitar part and 'Memories' a driving blast of pure bliss. Opener, ‘Feels like Heaven’s wispy beginnings soon fade into a easy groove accompanied by dreamy vocoder vocals and a saxophone solo that is perfectly implemented while 'Dark City' changes the mood up with its fast paced drums and layered synth tracks making it one to dance to.
Another excellent release from Future 80s Records, Memories is a diverse and spellbinding listen presented with beautiful artwork from scene legend Basil Murad. A must have addition to any synthwave collection, you can pick up a copy on Bandcamp here.
Warrior III - Star Maps
By Rick Shithouse
Opening with 'Mulholland Drive' the tones and colours of work by scene pioneers like College and Futurecop! spring to mind. The subtlety of the structures and haunting presence of the melody illicit a completely bittersweet emotional reaction. Simplicity is kept at the forefront and this genuinely ramps up the intimacy in a wonderfully nostalgic manner. 'Wrath' on the other hand takes a darker turn with the most devilish use of handclaps I'm yet to hear as the rhythmic applause rocks along like participants of a black mass watching all manner of macabre imagery distort their perception via synthesized melodies from beyond.
A bit of a curveball occurs with the third piece, which really eschews anything remotely 80s for something like a trip-hop homage to Chaplin's Great Dictator speech. It resonates deeply with the conviction of the speech's hugely powerful imagery. It's poignantly done with a very honest investment in the swelling string sections that guide the piece's journey.
Star Maps finishes with another kick arse 80s themed track in 'OMG wut?'. The passages are dripping with synths that have a predilection for chip-tuned aesthetics but it's the deep exploration of the hugely catchy lead melody that really rocks the hardest. Again this brings back many fond memories of the sounds of 2009 and that's no bad thing at all.
You can pick up a copy of Warrior III's Star Maps on iTunes here, which I highly recommend, especially for those of us who were rockin those early days of the scenes sounds in the late 2000s, as well as for those just discovering the modern take on 80s synth music.