By Shazeb Bhatti
Before I get into how wonderful Maethelvin’s long awaited CS005 Album is, let me start by saying that Maethelvin is one of the greatest synthwave artists to have hit the scene post 2007. He was one of the founding members of the legendary Valerie Collective (College, Russ Chimes, Anoraak, etc.) and he has been a key inspiration for numerous contemporary synthwave acts. CS005 is Maethelvin’s first official album, and its filled with all his golden Valerie-era gems as well as some beautiful fresh material.
The first track off the album, 'The Last Escape', is pure Valerie gold that goes to a long way to prove how classic their sound has become. Smooth, deep synths accompanied by dangerously catchy OutRun beats make this track an absolute gem. What makes Maethelvin’s style of production so genuine is the authenticity of his production- 'The Last Escape' is a testament to his dynamic and robust synth production skills.
The third track from CS005, ‘Lost In A Big City’ has been one of my favorite tracks for many years now. This is one of the first synthwave tracks I ever heard, and so I’m inclined to say that ‘Lost In A Big City’’ is an eternal classic. It features College-style deep synths and very hypnotic space-disco melodies, as well as a kick-ass compressed drums (who doesn’t love compressed drums and synth?).
'Plan B', the 5th track off CS005, is also worth mentioning. This gem features everything compelling and captivating about synthwave as a genre. Mystic, spiritual synths are a definitive feature of this superb example of night driving soundtracks.
Speaking of late night drives, the ultimate late-night driving song (hands-down) is ‘Delight’. It's such an iconic track that has been embedded in the consciousness of the synthwave community for years now. The 5 minute epic space-synth-ballad features absolutely bad-ass rhythmic patterns, killer modular synths, and a very powerful build up (circa the 4 minute mark). ‘Delight’, aside from being Maethelvin’s Opus Magnum is one of my most treasured synthwave gems and I encourage anyone who hasn’t heard it to set some time out to edify themselves and feel the Maethelvin magic.
It was the Nantes based Valerie Collective back in 2007 that really kick-started the global synthwave scene. College, Anoraak, Maethelvin, and Russ Chimes were amongst the most influential and captivating members of the group. Maethelvin’s CS005 album is comprised of essentially all the most inspired tracks he’s released over the past decade with Valerie. The tracks on CS005 (particularly ‘Delight’) have helped influence countless synthwave artists in the loop, including Jordan F, Highway Superstar, and up and coming Swedish nu-disco sensation Tobtok.
The real weight and presence of CS005 is what makes it so special. The timelessness of the sounds and the way they feel even more special years later just reinforces how special this record is. The mixture of the familiar and the new is something we're really experiencing for the first time in this album in a whole new context. The importance of the Valerie Collective to the synthwave scene should never be underestimated or forgotten and CS005 is like a window to the past and the future while existing squarely in the present.
CS005 is undoubtedly a Synthetix Reference Experience and deserves a place in every synthwave fan's music library. It is a pristinely clean album, and its production, design, and over-all feel are frankly speaking, inspired. In particular regard to the production value of CS005, Maethelvin produced the entire album using nothing but actual discarded 80s synth equipment, and yes, a lot of artists do that now too, but back in the early days of the scene Maethelvin was, and still is, quite the pioneer of making vintage sounds new and beautiful once again.
Maethelvin presents his CS005 album on Bandcamp here in digital formats.