Gamer - Old Money
By Andrew B. White
Gamer are back with a new four song EP Old Money. Fans will be pleased to know Gamer retain their signature sound on this release which follows on from the Moon Base Europa album, released in late 2014. Once again Gamer provide solid instrumental tracks in a spacey, semi-outrun style with plenty of sublime melodies courtesy of analog synths including the Roland JX3P and Juno 106. Arrangements are kept clean and avoid any unnecessary clutter.
‘Old Money’, a driving mid-tempo, polysynth-laden track opens the EP leading into ‘Counterfeit’ with it’s half-time beat and more big synths. This track is a soundtrack for an operation printing counterfeit money or making up fake IDs, in a dingy basement somewhere in the city. ‘Overpass’ bring the tempo up as all good songs with ‘overpass/underpass’ in their titles should do, and gives a slight nod to house music with its use of claps and 4/4 kick drum. ‘Pole Position’ closes the EP out and although its title suggests hectic car racing action the opposite is true here. ‘Pole Position’ doesn’t ride along at a gas-guzzling pace. Instead this feels like it is all about a driver who is getting ready for a race and contemplating the task ahead; those few moments before the flag drops and all hell breaks loose…
The core members of Gamer are based in New Zealand and Australia respectively but that hasn’t stopped them from performing live. Known for their excellent pixel art music videos and with the addition of two additional members for live shows (a synth player and a VJ) Gamer present a true audio-visual experience. Follow them on Facebook here to check out some shots of their recent show in Melbourne Australia.
Gamer present Old Money on their Bandcamp page here and also as a limited edition (of 20) MiniDisc from their Bandcamp page. In addition to Old Money the MiniDisc also comes with a free download for all of Gamer’s previous releases. That’s a deal! All songs on the EP are relatively short which keeps the whole affair felling nice and snappy. Gamer provide us with a quality batch of material that is sure to keep the old fans happy while bringing in many new ones.
Old Money comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.
Android Automatic - Signal
By Chris “Python Blue” Day
With Android Automatic’s latest release, it feels a lot like the ideal synthwave release. Hauntingly beautiful chords and melodies persist throughout the EP, further boosted by the science-fiction-themed choice of album artwork. While the snare drum is a bit saturated for my personal taste, I love the touch of gated reverb applied to the drums overall as well, and the pseudo-electric guitar is also well-played.
'Somewhere Along the Coast' is a perfect choice for an opening track: chords and a persistent bassline at a mid-tempo drive. 'The Signal', while sometimes giving the impression of being underwater, has that science fiction vibe making it a good fit for a title track. 'Malibu Cruise' is the pinnacle of the pseudo-electric guitar, with a few chords and another synth lead thrown alongside it. 'Saw Her Yesterday' seems to border into trance music with the chord sequences, but the way the more retro instruments work alongside it is an excellent blend of genres!
Signal is without a doubt very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM, and is available on Android Automatic’s personal Bandcamp page here.
Kyoto Dragon - Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi
By Rick Shithouse
Thankfully, when the 80s officially stopped when our calendars ticked over to 1990 Japan decided not to really take notice and much of the synth music from the late 80s continued to flourish in popularity throughout the first half of the 90s. This was especially prominent in anime productions as well as arcade games. In fact, the early 90s arcade titles from Japan are still some of my favourite 80s synth music and a real final hurrah for classic 80s sounds.
The whole Neo Tokyo idea took the synthesizer as its own soundtrack and this has inspired many, many producers over the years to draw from that inspiration and recreate their own neon lit, rain drenched ultra violent totalitarian dystopia. I've heard a lot music done in this kind of homage, but it wasn't til I heard Kyoto Dragon's music that I felt the music had actually moved forward, instead of constantly looking backwards.
Kyoto Dragon, for those unaware, is the new type evolutionary cycle of the artist formerly known as Destoroyah. In taking on this new form the Destoroyah sound has been exploded and reconfigured on different technology making for a magnificent new experience. This five track debut EP is one hell of an exciting new direction for 80s inspired synth music to expand while still retaining its soul.
The EP mixes up vast, sprawling synthscapes of subtle layering and use of samples and effects with faster paced set pieces; playing out like a proper soundtrack to some unknown OVA release from 1991. The Japanese theme runs deep in the music and isn't just used for novelty. The melodies themselves derive a sumptuous asiatic tone and are build on instruments thoroughly in keeping with the geography. Kyoto Dragon thoroughly understands the way to structure pieces and breathe life into their parts, tracks like Yamata no Orochi 八岐大蛇 Battle in The Slums and Wani 鰐 Crocodile King are exemplary experiences in this style of synthscape, luring you into untold excitement and then exploding into an adventure of life and death amid the neon and concrete underworld.
The slower, soundtrack oriented pieces also exhibit a wonderful level of control as Kyoto Dragon keeps details hazy and obfuscated while giving the listener broader strokes of scenes and experiences. Being able to keep the aesthetic working so brilliantly through both high energy piece and moodier, drawn out ideas keeps you in entirely in the Kyoto Dragon zone and proves hugely satisfying by the final track's completion.
I found this release highly entertaining and even more promising for the the future and what the Kyoto Dragon experience could evolve further into. This five track introduction though, is totally rockin to the max and is a welcome dimension to add to the ever growing planesphere of the 80s inspired synth scene. Grab a copy here, throw on some classic early 90s arcade games (preferably Sengoku or Air Buster) and feel that Kyoto Dragon magic.