By Rick Shithouse
When listening to new producers of 80s inspired synth music I often hear good intentions without the knowledge base or experience in the sounds to really back it up into something I enjoy. I do have a very critical eye/ear when it comes to new producers but I always want to encourage them to be better at what they do and improve their craft. Nothing's to be gained by being completely negative or dismissive of anothers work and I'm very aware that the more encouragement I (or anyone else) can give someone; the more chance there is that their music will become something special.
Debut releases often show promise but rarely deliver a cohesive package and it's even rarer to have the cohesive diversity that Aquawave has in his debut EP, Paper Planes. Over the course of six tracks Aquawave takes his own wonderfully restrained time to explored retro-futuristic synth spectrums and work a sublimely refined sheen over his music. There's not so much of a story tying Paper Planes together as there is a motif that allows Aquawave to work in all kinds of directions while retaining those strong, cohesive elements that bind it into one complete suite.
When it comes to the new rockers on the block they often sacrifice atmosphere and mood for energy and vibrancy. I hear a lot of music from new producers that cranks up the BPM and goes all out into OutRun mania; unfortunately with wanton disregard for the elements that actually create the tension and energy in an 80s style. When I saw 'Tokyo Ride' as the first track title on Paper Planes I internally sighed a 'here we go again..' with another soulless high energy introductory piece. But oh, how wrong I was.
Taking it's time to build and using equal amounts of mood and energy Aquawave rocks a staccato bassline that is over lit with synths and guitars in equal measure. The tone is perfect, that balance of such an instantly complex scenario is effortlessly enacted and an essence of cool washes over the track's exciting and enthralling chapters.
The air of coolness flows to all new levels in the follow up track 'Skydiver' with Aquawave really making some space allows the track's story to unfold at a serene pace that enhances the hypnotic melody enrapturingly well. A tranquil air permeates the chill vibes and a nuances of each instrument make for a tantalising experience. Following on from this is the title track, 'Paper Planes' and the suave and distinguished passages elicit a more sensual experience. Uncomplicated in stature yet grand in its elements and sounds this piece really capture the aesthetic of Aquawave's laid back grooves.
This mood continues on 'Endless Space' as Aquawaves opts for a funkier sound courtesy of the bassline and guitars; but still rocks the inner synth peace throughout the cosmic journey. 'Power Boost' adds fuel to the funk fire with more pointedly inquisitive elements leading to passages of intrigue and then winds back in a tension filled space before rockin back into sharp, vibrant focus.
The final track on Paper Planes takes a turn darker as 'Mind Control' creeps in the shadows of conniving structures with untold maliciousness on its agenda. Things never become to overpowering however and instead hint at the foreboding eeriness; rather than bludgeon you over the head with sonic violence. Even when exploring these darker ends of the spectrum, Aquawave retains his controlled and chill disposition, letting the mysteries remain exactly that.
Aquawave presents his Paper Planes Ep on this Bandcamp page here in the usually array of digitally downloadable formats. I've been hugely impressed by this release as the depth and cohesiveness of the experience is richly displayed through each track, The stories may all be self contained but Aquawave's skills in songwriting and production make for an outstandingly engaging experience across the entire release. Definitely a rising star in the 80s inspired synth scene, Aquawave's Paper Planes comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.