By Matthew Neophytou
Sellorekt/LA Dreams is up to his old tricks again - just over a month into the New Year and we get slammed with this absolute sunset strip (are you referring to the street in LA? Then Sunset-Strip) of an album. He has definitely got to be the mostconsistent artist on the scene today or the guy with lots of synths and time on his hands, but do we care, no, the answer is no, we don’t.
Tell me, just tell me you do not want to break into full on montage-opening-credit-scene-mode when you hear the first cords of 'HeartStruck', like Tropical Heat or if you’re more family-oriented Full House. Its got an upbeat melody and a groove to make you move (sorry) and that makes this a stellar opener.
'If You Stay' keeps the beat going but changes gear, serving just the right mix of cool stutter-y beats that soften you up for what I feel is the standout moment of the album, 'Mystic Corner Blues'. It’s a memory, laced with guitar-singed breaths of synth, that will whisk you down the smoky alleyways of blue hues in high tops.
Title track 'The Big Door' hits the ground running with the usual outrunner vibes but not at the expense of making it feel generic, which spills over to 'Feels so Real'. Okay, say you’ve reached the level of a video game where you are the dude! You got your moves aced and enough power ups to face the danger, that’s about the time to put 'Made of Stone' on the deck. Trust me.
The literal skip-filled 'Hourglass' leads us to the coolest SFX in a track I could possibly hope for. 'I’m Taking The Day Off” (a wish mantra for all employed these days) has synths that are playfully warped and result in a cheerful closer to the album.
An album that will add shades to your sun-kissed days or, for those on the opposite end of the planet, induce envy. LA Dreams' The Big Door gets a very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM, get it here. Like, now.
Hello Meteor - At Night
By Michael CA L
Out of the damp, forested, coastal regions of Washington state, USA comes a synth-laden mini-album that is as organic and rain-soaked as the environment in which its creator resides. Hello Meteor's latest EP At Night drenches its listener with a blend of synthesized textures, overdriven synth melodies and down-tempo rhythms that is at once murky, raw and lo-fi and at the same time as luminously bright and crystal-clear as sunrise frost glistening on the coniferous forest-beds of the West Coast.
The EP begins with the eponymous 'At Night', which delivers a down-tempo, wintry and haunting synth pad that is subsequently sheared in two by a ripping, overdriven synth melody. A delay effect on the melody is hypnotic and mournful, like a trace memory of violence that comes back to haunt after the act is already over. Complimenting this theme of recurrence, the snare hits are like the crash of a wave, with gated effects creating a right-to-left surge and pull across the sonic platform like the crash of a wave echoing from the point of impact to a distant, isolated coastal cliff. All the while, the smooth synth pad creates the feel of cold Pacific water and surges up towards the shore before retreating. The combination of soothing and solitary synth pad and harsh, foreboding overdriven synth melody creates a beautiful, exquisitely oppositional and truly haunting soundscape; one that is further explored in the second track 'Long Before Morning'.
'Long Before Morning'
If you live in the Northern hemisphere like I do and have experienced genuinely ice-cold weather, you might be familiar with the feeling of being so bitterly frozen that you almost feel warm. This visceral sensation comes to mind as the synth pads strike up at the start of the EP's second track 'Long Before Morning'. The mood is sombre and there's a frozen element to the sound that reminds me of the blackest winter nights, but in contrast there is also a warm caress within the core of the sound that is like blood moving slowly but with defiant heat from behind frozen skin. After several moments, a mid-to-fast tempo beat and a jogging, heat-creating arpeggio breaks the spell, allowing friction-induced warmth to take over the mood of the song for a time. Similar to the previous song, a violent, overdriven synth melody enters, and further added to this blend of blood-warmth and winter-death is a stunning and beautiful arpeggio at 1:54. Soon enough, that echoing shred of distorted synth drops out and we're left with those haunting and cold synth pads and that beautiful synth arpeggio. The song draws itself upward as if climbing a steep Pacific-coast cliff; it teases for a few moments before the slicing synth plunges back into the mix like the cold steel of a blade.
'Brightdown', the EP's third and final track, takes things in a different direction structurally while maintaining thematic and atmospheric similarities. Opening with a repeating loop of what might be natural harmonics on a guitar or perhaps the chiming, plucked, nearly percussive-sounding hits of a stringed instrument, the song is ancient-sounding while at the same time progressive and contemporary, continuing with the theme of contrasting sounds and textures. This dynamic sonic platform is moved forward by the introduction of a synth bass, a steady, mid-tempo drum beat, and the pulse of a warm string synth that emits heat as if it were white hot and on the brink of losing its form in the volatile environment of a Rocky Mountain mining foundry. The changes taking place in this track aren't abrupt, but the directions are unanticipated, which makes for a wonderfully alert listen, where the ears are tuned right in and fully devoted to the experience of absorbing the sounds and the directions Hello Meteor pulls them in.
At Night is an odyssey into the place where song meets soundscape and complex, ambient, audio-experimentalism meets instantaneous appeal. It's a concise package of music that explores new ground through contrasting elements such as the naturally organic and the mechanically constructed, and it comes very, very highly recommended by Synthetix FM.
Hello Meteor presents At Night, available through Bandcamp in various file formats for free/name your price here.
Miracle Cat - Chasing The Sunset EP
By Jerry Herrera
Maybe it’s because I’ve been listening to very heavy, theme driven synthwave lately but hearing Miracle Cat’s Chasing The Sunset EP really had an impact on me. This is brilliant OutRun synth that doesn’t really reinvent the whole concept of “Miami racing/cruising” but does it in a way that makes it newly enjoyable.
First are the bright snares and tempo that are reminiscent of my favorite new wave dance tracks. I really wish more producers would take a more lighthearted approach to their synthwave because it works spectacularly here and, let’s face it, upbeat and fun dance tracks are just as important to our beloved retro revival as sci-fi/horror soundscapes. Another thing I enjoyed were Miracle Cat’s appropriately high energy vocals that are appropriately ‘80s without crossing the cheese line.
The third thing to complete this EP’s retro trifecta is righteous shred. Both tracks feature clean, fun guitar work that accents the music, giving it added dimension and authenticity. There really isn’t too much variation between 'Break Through To The Other Side' and 'The Hard Road' but in this case, I didn’t mind because I didn’t want the momentum to stop. Miracle Cat is definitely an act to watch in 2015, and I definitely recommend picking this EP on their Bandcamp page here.
Waveshaper - Solar Drifter
By Rick Shithouse
Waveshaper returns with his kick arse new Solar Drifter EP. Bringing things back to basics with vitriolic OutRun being the order of the day across four pumping tracks. There's an uncomplicated brashness to Waveshaper's sound on Solar Drifter that harkens back 2010 era 80s inspired synth music and unabashedly recreates those moods brilliantly though out. It's actually refreshing to hear something so completely genre-focussed and unapologetic about where it's coming from.
All the trappings of classic OutRun are here. Climbing melodies. Guile drenched basslines. Hypnotising arrangements. Percussion that is unstoppable. All topped if with cool evening air rushing past in a daze of nostalgic brilliance. You know you're in for a good time seconds in to 'Stellar Jupiter' as Waveshaper twists you around every high speed turn and displays his complete contempt to anything but high energy thrills.
The journey adds dash of space themed atmosphere and a sprinkling of Discovery era Daft Punk in 'Distant Projections'; complimenting the raucous bassline magnificently well. The midway point elevates the melodies even further and a sense of gravity disappearing at some ludicrous top speed is thoroughly invigorating sets in as the track completes.
'Fight Against Time' moves into more spatially aware segments, in wonderful homage to Tommy-esque progressions while keeping a gritty, revving engine roaring behind the melodically synthual melody. Finishing off Solar Drifter is much more contemplative piece in 'System Failure'. Belying some kind of catastrophic break down, warped melodies stagger in a haze of ruins with heat searing from the scorched earth. The mood is definitely less frantic, but also no less direct as this score to an aftermath of sorts describes a tragically beautiful scene.
Rad Rush Records presents Wave Shaper's Solar Drifter EP on their Bandcamp page here in the usual array of digital formats as well as being up for preorder (currently) on white vinyl! I for one really enjoyed this edition of Waveshaper's musical journey and can't wait to get the full vinyl experience courtesy of Rad Rush Records. The opportunities are few to rock these kinds of sounds on this format and if that wasn't enough incentive there's also an exclusive track only on the record release. I highly encourage everyone to pick up a copy and make those 80s inspired synth vinyl dreams come true.