By Rick Shithouse
One of the many things that interests me about modern producers of 80s inspired synth music is how they become entranced in the sounds and then how their inner muse takes this direction further. From other electronic genres, to the ever present Drive movie, through to all manner of metal and rock related places and spaces we find new producers of 80s inspired sounds appearing with startling frequency.
Sagittarius V is one of the most recent devotees to the classic synth sounds and through his recent interview on Synthetix Sundays (available for your predilection here) I learned much about his background and how he got to the point of making the Renegade EP. With such a wide variety of influences it is no surprise that Sagittarius V's take on retro synth sounds comes from a rather different place and adds some very intriguing elements into the mix.
There's much variation in Sagittarius V's sounds, from track to track and as an experiment, Renegade marks a great debut into sounds from the past that opens many paths for this producer to adventure upon. A stronger opening track you'll be hard up finding as Sagittarius V's powerhouse OutRun track 'Lucidator' begins things in earnest. The lead melody is haunting and hits hard, a melancholic aura rides on top of the huge engine room and brings in darker shades of synth alchemy. The depth of the piece, however, is where the real reward is, as is the case with much of this EP; tracks consistently delve well below the surface and are explored with much passion.
This takes on different shades in the second piece, the title track: 'Renegade'. The darker moods from 'Lucidator' move into different pastures of sounds with a harder, late 80s Italo bassline mixing with a combination of early 90s EBM/Industrial sounds. Sagittarius V cites Nine Inch Nails as a major influence and this is felt directly in the musical parts of 'Renegade' as well as in the heavily Reznor-esque vocal phrasing. The combinations of sounds work, and the way the track is arranged is far less traditional than initial impressions give.
Sagittarius V's experiments pay off, and with the third movement, simply titled 'The Night'. We're presented with a vast and involving synthscape that is hugely emotionally driven while keeping a cold austerity to complementary elements. Feelings of isolation and longing filter in throughout but a hope is present within the melodies that is frail and delicate, holding things together; if only just.
Romantic sounds begin to flow into the palette with the gorgeous follow up piece 'Sunrise'. The musical elements as so muted and sensitively arranged that a closeness can be felt within the sounds and the quieter passages. Guitars and very ethereal vocals add an even greater intimacy which then melts into a truly uplifting final passage. One of the brightest highlights on the EP, 'Sunrise' is a vision of synthual pleasures.
The atmospheres of 'Sunrise' are warm, welcoming and a resounding contrast to the opening tracks and the heat continues to rise in another scene-setting piece titled 'Tokyo Mind E-Racer'. This is the most soundtrack oriented piece on the EP and the journey is as unpredictable as it is intriguing. The tensions become greater and more intense through each passage with Sagittarius V employing some very kick arse slowing down and speeding up gimmicks that really capture the imagination, painting an energetic picture of free flowing synth magic. 'Tokyo Mind E-Racer' is, structurally, the most epic and inventive experience on Renegade and shines bright from beginning to end.
Renegade completes with 'Standby...Me', ushering in an introspective synthscape underneath the garbled crosstalk of space program communique samples. The contrast of the samples with the absolutely breathtaking melodic excursions creates a sense of total wonder, contemplative and uplifting; giving the listener a sense of hope against the backdrop of an unforgiving yet beautiful celestial void.
Future 80s Records presents Sagittarius V's Renegade EP on their Bandcamp page here. There is a lot to love and explore amid the six tracks contained and it all sounds fresh, vital and full of future possibilities. Sagittarius V has a wonderful gift of instilling deep emotional conversations into his music and conveys the messages with great clarity. Synthetix.FM very highly recommends this release for both its inventiveness and the emotional investment and also for the incredibly robust arrangements within the tracks the tell each story so beautifully.