AIRBORNE returns for 2016 as we bring you the most rockin EP's of the last couple of weeks. In other news the monthly feature of Selling The Dream has been slightly delayed due to my inability to source a scanner for printed material and being unsatisfied with results from available cameras. I'll hopefully have this sorted out in the next couple of weeks but Objet D'Rad will premiere next Wednesdsy. Also, it brings me great pleasure to introduce you to Lachie Hunt, Sarah Halloran and Joel Svanbäck as writing staff to the site. I'm greatly looking forward to hearing their impressions of the most rockin releases in the 80s inspired synth scene! Make them welcome. Many thanks to all three for stepping up to this role, it's greatly appreciated. - RS.
JJ Mist - Self Titled
By Joel Svanbäck
Retro-electronic music as a genre has always lacked good singers - which is why it always piques my interest when new vocal tracks come out. This time we got not just one track but an EP full, courtesy of JJ Mist on her self titled debut EP. With her soulful pop vocals, she brings the listener into the more tender and often vulnerable side of retro-pop.
The EP starts out with 'Battle of Love (I surrender)', an almost pop-rock type tune with strong vibes of the times gone by, driven by JJ Mist's heartfelt vocals and culminating in a classic 80's distorted guitar solo. The beautiful pads and bells really set the mood on the track 'Burning Desire', a classic synth ballad, which sounds like it would could belong in a love scene in a high school drama of the 80's. This track as well as 'Horizon', the other ballad on the EP, is where I feel JJ Mist's soft vocals really shine.
JJ Mist is not all about ballads though. The more up-tempo tracks 'Crazy Lover', with an almost R&B type beat and dark pop lyrics, as well as the last track of the EP, 'Stronger than belief' show us that JJ Mist is a multifaceted singer and producer. As sensitive and sometimes dark retro-pop music goes, JJ Mist's self titled EP is a great debut
A Space Love Adventure - Synth Punk EP
By Rick Shithouse
Many will be aware I'm a monstrous fan of Camille R's Last Limit record from 2011, to me personally this is still one of the absolute high water marks for 80s inspired synth music in an original and raw presentation that is just bursting with vibrant 80s energy. The production on this record was intentionally raw and rough, and it boggled my mind as to why other producers never went this route with their production styles and instead opt for appling exacting levels of polish on their works.
Much to my immense pleasure A Space Love Adventure is rockin the rough stuff in all the right ways on his new Synth Punk Ep. The guitars, synths and drums all crunch into an explosive hard rockin, in your face, raw as fuck, no time for love, Dr Jones fist fight of righteousness. The opening track, 'Red Blaze', takes the energy beyond the danger zone with riffs chugging like neon powered engine and synths stabbing with electric tentacles. The drums pound, the sounds fight for prominence in the mix and the grittiness of the textures is absolutely magical.
The flavour goes darker on 'Avalanche 29' as the hypnotising rhythms usher in cataclysmic aural disasters that refuse to be contained. A slightly more OutRun aesthetic is given to the experience and the music benefits greatly from it. Going darker still is 'Reign Of The Outlaws' which strips things back to pure, roughly hewn ingredients before building up in to a Synth Punk take on the theme from Escape from New York. A definitely winning combination.
Apart from being the best named track on the EP, 'Thunderchrome' delivers the most visceral thrills as a heavy rolling bassline annihilates all in its path and the synths and guitars trade blows against and electrified skyline. The pure menace of this track's aesthetic is totally rockin to the max and in many ways incorporates more traditionally metal elements into the synth genre more cohesively than a lot of other dark synth I've heard.
A Space Love Adventure should change his name to An Earth Hatred Crusade as the atmosphere created on Synth Punk is pure black t-shirt and torn jeans with a sauvely greasy mullet on top. 100% rock and roll and a must-experience for all fans of the darker ends of the synthwave spectrum.
リョウ (Ryou) - offset
By Lachie Hunt
By the sounds of it, Ryou's EP offset flew under the radar for most. His actual name seems to be リョウ (Ryou), but for the ease of this review, I'm simply referring to him as Ryou. Offset has a unique collection of tracks, from the more synthwave sounding tracks of 'The Mirage and Memories' to the more ambient modern sounding 'For Two (revisited)'.
Out of the four tracks here 'The Mirage' was definately my favourite. It combines asian sounding plucks and smooth pads in the intro and jumps straight into a square wave arp and heavy bassline with some neat vocal pads in the background. It definitely seems to have a basis in more modern EDM and club music, but it's blended so well with the 80s style it works like a charm.
All of the tracks on this EP are well worth a listen, personally 'For Two' was my least favourite however. The other tracks sound amazing, and the production is on point, sounding very clear and crisp. This EP is well worth a look, and Ryou is definitely an artist to watch!
Villeneuve Sound - Blond EP
By Sarah Halloran
Villeneuve Sound may be brand spanking new on the synthwave scene, but as a seasoned synth programmer and sound designer, you could say he knows a thing or two about synthy bits and bobs. Now, wait a minute, I don’t remember ever saying this review would be technical!
I’ve been listening to the Blonde EP all week, and it’s a fantastic debut. First track and stand out track for me, 'Away In The Sunshine' starts off with a glimmering little melody that immediately hooks you in and has you humming it for days. It’s only when you listen to the bittersweet lyrics, beautifully performed by the way, that you realise the sadness and angst that weaves its way through this track, and actually the rest of the EP.
'All I Wanna Be' floats over the speakers next, and delivers a sneaky little twang of the heartstrings with its slightly melancholy bassline and synths. A Pet Shop Boys influence here? Maybe. All I wanna be is happy go the lyrics, but there is hope and strength here delivered in a punchy, in your face chorus that says this lady ain’t going to give up her search for love that easily.
The tight drums and rolling bassline of 'Tell Me' are the perfect partner for the atmospheric synth arrangement and lush, whispery light vocals. Smooth, sleek and haunting, this is one to listen to in the evening over headphones with a large glass of something something in your hand.
Final track 'Sun Goes Down' is just sublime and absolutely needs to be played and in my case, sung at high volume. It’s an embracingly warm track that is pure unadulterated 80s and the perfect ending. If the rest of the EP had you feeling a little melancholy and thinking about lost loves and missed opportunities, this will have you on your feet and punching the air like a Berlinesque Hasselhoff!
I spoke to Matt, aka Villeneuve Sound, and he was very modest about his first foray into synthwave. “Tinkering” and “testing” were some of the words he used. Can’t wait to see what happens when he really gets serious!
The Analog Kid - Better Times
By Rick Shithouse
I still find incredible that after listening to so much of this music for so long that I can still feel the musical and emotional bolt of lightning hit the within seconds of hearing certain songs. The opening and title track to The Analog Kid's Better Times EP made the bolt hit right to the heart in seconds as the utterly glorious opening melody formed into a supremely emotive refrain. The track is built of this beautiful structure and evolves into a warmly comforting aural blanket. The 80s love is so strong and unfettered, one can feel this right to the core.
The melancholy reminiscence of 'Better Times' takes a more upbeat by no less deep tack on 'Arcade Dreams'. The lead melody is dripping with glowing nostalgia to the 80s and the brighter elements are given a healthy sparkle as they rise and fall in time with the lead.
The final track, 'Neon Nights' gets back to the purely emotive swell of synths like in the title track. There is something inexorably pure about the way The Analog Kid structures his track, very uncomplicated in progressions but completely enrapturing in presence and depth. These three tracks are beautifully crafted examples of yearning, soulful Synth Romance and I can't wait to experience more of The Analog Kid's musical journey.