It has been a great year for all things wave-inclined. For me, ever since my first toe-dipping with Synthwave back in the ‘00s when Kavinksy (BD: Before Drive) and Danger were the most prominent producers, and throughout the years the site has been bubbling up here and there, the call back to ‘80s music, supported by the era’s visual style and neatly polished with today’s production standards, has captured this boy’s imagination for all things retro-electro.
New producers have emerged and established ones thrive, as the genre creeps ever so much closer to becoming a solidified staple of electronic music through films, video games and online media. There’s only one way this wave is riding, and it’s up. Please do join me while I take you on a journey of my top tracks that have stood out among them all for the year of 2014. Disclosure: it was a hard decision.
Honorable mention: John Carpenter – Vortex
10. Dance With The Dead – Invader
The musical equivalent of a hardcore power workout, Dance with the Dead duo Justin Pointer and Tony Kim have carved themselves a rightful spot within the genre with their high-paced productions. With a couple album releases this year including Near Dark and Out of Body it looks like they are only getting started. Also worth mentioning is the remix of Kristine’s 'The Deepest Blue'.
9. Nowtro - Late Nights
Nowtro hypnotises me with his mix of sneering synths and cascading melodies that leave one feeling a bit hot under the collar.
8. Jordan F - Take Flight
A track that oozes sex appeal, it might just be the musical incarnation of James Dean on a hover board. Just when we got our heartbeat to a normal rate after the Freefall EP earlier this year, Jordan F dropped his LP Slipstream and man, it’s enough to turn this boy into full-on groupie mode.
7. She’s Not Real – Wine – Dark Sea
From the debut album Not Real Sound by She’s Not Real, comes this piece of seductive electro that takes you on a progressive ride through Mullholland Dr, Bladerunner-style.
6. Waveshaper - Bright Shadows
Anyone brave enough to remix Make Up and Vanity Set is worthy of a listen to in my books and with good reason too. Off the EP Sounds that Kill, Waveshaper produced a gem with this one, injecting tension-building organ synths into a groovy beat that’s like Phantom of the Opera, the Arcade Game.
5. Steinbeck - Solaris (Mind's Eye)
So this one is pure electro ‘80s rock complete with the vocals that push you to karaoke this baby while driving down the highway.
4. Fitzzgerald – 1980
Released only a couple of weeks ago, this song just stood out from the crowd with its high kicks and energetic pace. It’s just one of those beats that brings out the Prince in you. You know, you just want to bust those moves on the dance floor, be all fly and all. 1980 comes with a guarantee to lift one’s spirit, no doubt in my mind. Oh, and saxophone vibes are fully present.
3. LA Dreams - When I'm With You
Hailing from the dreamscape that is Los Angeles, LA Dreams just keeps hitting home runs with each piece he produces. 'When I’m With You' just resonated with me, it’s catchy pop-infused sensibilities and awesome vocoder sampling make it a truly kick ass song to play when you are head-over-heals for a special someone or just wanna footloose it.
2. Makeup and Vanity Set - Results, Revision
Discovered MVS when I was perusing the internet for my next fix of synth and I was smacked in the face with 'A Glowing Light, A Promise'. It is a love affair I do not want to end. Creating scores for film projects and video games, MVS has really perfected the art of creating the atmospheric synth-wave track. 'Results, Revision' is a just a cracking example, which just so happens to come from an upcoming film, EIDOLON
1. Thomas Barrandon - Outside The Cave
I become giddy like a schoolgirl with a kitten whenever Thomas Barrandon appears on my screen, there is this sense of maturity and emotive connection with his material, which has many layers and creates its own story within the realm of the synth. Off the powerful album The New Born Between Mountain and Sea released in Feb, this year, 'Outside The Cave' is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard in a long time. An emotional journey of isolation and reflection, it leaves you with an unknowing hope for the future. The end kills me - which is why it’s my number one for the year. Thank you, Thomas Barrandon.