Thursday, September 25, 2014
Riddlis - The Lost Days EP
By Matthew Neophytou
Taking a galaxy-spanning road trip inwards to the deepest crevices of your nostalgic mind-scape, is what comes to my consciousness, when absorbing The Lost Days; the new EP by Riddlis. There are distinct levels that occur in the four tracks, which is best drunk in one whole sitting.
The stand outs for me here has to be between the title track 'The Lost Days' and 'Remember Proxyon', as I tend to gravitate towards thematic piece’s in my love for synth these best represent that aspect. It's interesting that 'Remember Proxyon' is placed first as I would imagine it being the Prometheus to the Alien that is 'The Lost Days' in terms of progressive style for each track ie: the latter being stripped down to the former full on production. The other two tracks 'Ryu’s Fight' and 'Missile' inject the EP with concussive beats, which provide good breaks and level out the journey.
The Lost Days is another good release for Riddlis and as he hones his craft more I look forward to hearing where he takes us to next. As a last note, I would seriously suggest plugging your headphones on and lying down somewhere with your eyes closed and execute the title track, definitely a release to pick up for some solitary journeys into one's mind.
Femmepop - From A Girl Who Never Sleeps
By Jerry Herrera
The synth vocalist is a rare and beautiful creature, and rarer still is the vocalist who is also a producer. Femmepop brings us From A Girl Who Never Sleeps, a charming and varied LP that collects a few singles but also includes a lot of new material, some of which are collaborations with other synth talents.
While the entirety of the record strays into synthwave, synthpop and dreamwave, Femmepop has managed to created a unique sound all her own with the foundations of nostalgia in mind. Her sound will definitely have you caught up in memories of your youth. I think most readers will gravitate toward her collaborations with some pretty recognizable names in the genre. She teams up with Timecop1983 for 'Timescapes', which is a breezy tune perfect for cruising around town to. Following that is 'Neon Nights' featuring LA Dreams, a slightly bigger and more OutRun styled song. She slows things down on 'Not That Kind' with Robert Parker and another collaboration with Timecop1983 called 'Our Time' is easily my favorite track on the record. Each producer she works with seems to understand her style and range, so while each track is theirs to a point, all of them are distinctly Femmepop.
Femmepop has an interesting vocal style that is emotive and powerful, but also sweet and simply pleasant to hear. While I see big things happening for her in the future as a solo artist, it would be a great shame if more synthwave producers didn’t reach out to her for more collaborations, and vice versa. She’s a refreshing new voice in a genre that prefers to let the synths do the talking.
Shiro Schwarz Separation Anxiety EP
Andrew B. White
Available for purchase on iTunes here
Separation Anxiety is a new EP from Mexican duo Shiro Schwarz. 2013 saw them release the album Exoplanet Love (digitally and on cassette) and the single 'Come Closer'. Formed in 2011 they describe themselves as an "audiovisual production and performance duo". Visual artist Pammela Rojas is on vocals and Rafael Marfil takes care of the music and also contributes vocals. Shiro Schwarzlike to use the term 'space yacht' to describe their sound and the term is apt, given the sound of 'yacht rock' with Shiro Schwarz adding in more synths to that breezy genre.
Separation Anxiety consists of four songs which range from mid to up-tempo 80s, synth funk numbers. The funk is light (hence the yacht terminology) and also politely restrained but with no lack of groove. Rojas and Marfil share vocal duties on each track and sing in a kind of endearing, but disaffected, fragile way. These are mostly love songs for synth nerds who want to get a little of the funk on too. 'No Distance' is a duet with two lovers (under)stating their long distance love with a laid back bendy, synth-funk beat; 'Here To Stay' is a little more sexed-up lyrically and intensifies the pace; 'Separation Anxiety' with it's slower synth brass groove is the sound of being apart from your fellow geek love and needing a little circuit lovin'.
The last track 'Boogie Ghost' brings the funk up a notch with a Roger (Zapp) Troutman-style vocoder and a more sexy approach from Rojas where she comes acrosss more like 80s funk queens Appolonia or Cherrelle. Apparently Shiro Schwarz do some cool live A/V shows which would be cool to check out. In the meantime, if 80s funk crossed with melancholy synth pop is your thing, then hop right on board the Shiro Schwarz space yacht!
Protector 101 - Time Slap 003 Return Of The Killer Train
By Matthew Neophytou
No stranger to synthwave soundtracks of 80’s movies not yet made, Protector 101 takes us through a terrifying ride of high tension and hair raising harmonies that could just about come out of a John Carpenter film. It is refreshing to see a producer such as Protector 101 who is able to do both “commercial” synths such as Fighting Spirit to downright full on Dolby Surround Sound atmospheric epics such as Black Friday 2: Blood Money (The UNCUT Version) (OST). As mentioned earlier this album would fall into the latters category, so if you want to dance your heart out to some sax Casio vibes, check out his other stuff.
Lets start at the very beginning a very good place to…. die!! Since the first note you know exactly where this film is headed yet you cannot turn your ears away from the menacing melodical madness you will be flung into. Scattered throughout the album like blood onto the walls are snippets of shall we say 1 minute or so “breathers” that allow us to catch our breath or hold it depending on your terror threshold. Speaking of threshold I would dare anyone to play this alone at home with the lights switched off, I would if I could but I would like to keep some semblance of sanity.
Like a film it is best to listen to this album from beginning to end but if you want to skip to some of the highlights they are are: 'It Came For Pleasantville' or as I like to call it 'The-Call-Is-Coming-From-Inside-The-House' The mixture of haunting strings and seriously scary piano which will make you wonder what exactly is that shadow over there?
'Video Game Junkie' offers a brief pause on the menace train, if only because by now you are wandering around the tracks blood soaked from 'Death Scene 1'. 'Prepare for Battle' has just the right beats we need to get up from our fetal positions and march onwards to face hell.
Proctor 101's Time Slap 003 Return of the Killer Train is available on Retro Promenade's Bandcamp in a Signed CD/Poster Combo as well as in digital formats. This is a great deal of fun and another feather in Protector 101's train driver's cap, and be sure to check out the great trailer for the project here to get you in the mood. Toot Toot!
Sandy H - Time Of My Life
By James Mann
Beads of sunlight spill through the window and catch reflections in all directions as the wind catches your hair on a coastal drive. You slink through the club with the soundtrack of funk, suave, and intellect playing in the background. You finally recall what was written on the note you passed to the girl with piercing blue eyes all those years ago in science class. Respective memories to last a lifetime, all compliments of Sandy H. This polished female synth and guitar artist from France blasts through the synth wave scene with her unforgettable album, Time of my Life from Future 80's Records. It's not every day you discover an artist that manages to weave such diversity in their music, evoking nostalgic, smooth moods that create such powerful imagery, as well as charged up synth/guitar arrangements you will be humming after Sandy H has dropped you off at your final destination.
The first few seconds of the opening track, 'Time of My Life' is well… powerful . With an arrangement of driven power chords and beautiful synth chord progressions, Sandy H has grabbed my attention and I can't wait to follow her lead. The track weaves its way through city streets at night, cruising with the best soundtrack possible. There are nuances in the percussion and rhythm you just can't ignore. Thoughtful and developed, Sandy H knows her stuff.
'The Girl of my Dreams' is a playful, catchy number with glassy synths that splash across the dance floor with a new wave beat. I see girls with teased hair and leggings, the guys with jean jackets all doing the Molly Ringwald. This is a good thing. Nostalgia 100%.
'A Night to Remember' and 'Bahia 82' bring an elegant funk with complex percussion, bass lines and detailed guitar work that are exceptional. Subtle piano work that blends seamlessly with claps evoke a lounge environment or a casual night stroll, where the melodies are calming, soothing and pensive.
'Pole Position' shows a darker, more driven side of Sandy H. I'm transported into a night drive with neon lights and seedy characters on the sidewalks whizzing by. (The acceleration and engine revving could be a large part of this), and the ride is thoroughly enjoyable. It's amazing that through the arpeggiated synths and driving bass line and guitar, the tasteful, restrained and thoughtful approach of this able artist's music made me smile.
Time of My Life by Sandy H is a sophisticated, essential work for the current synth enthusiast. Sandy H takes you through her soundscapes and allows you to dream. Big. I am most impressed by her ability to vary the sounds, from those sleek lounge tunes to the ones that inspire you to turn the key in the ignition and just cruise. Closing my eyes while laying on the bed listening to her work transcended my memories growing up in the 80's, remembering all those meaningful and poignant moments that seem like yesterday. Sandy H takes you there, and into tomorrow.