By James Mann
#5 Luigi Donatello (Moskva-Kassiopeya - Decay)
Luigi Donatello is without a doubt a benchmark in the synthwave scene. With his prolific channel and taste for artists and music that delve into the deepest depths of moods and energies, he has claimed a position as one of the most dedicated and hard working guys in the scene. What NewRetroWave or the (now defunct) Maniac Synth did not offer, Luigi digs, scours, and successfully taps into the best in synth based retro inspired music. (Along with a sweet collection of chillwave/vaporwave tunes)
One fact about Luigi is that he is an extraordinary editor. Although the majority of his tracks entail a custom animation/graphic and images, don’t let the seemingly simple edits fool you. He knows what he’s doing. So this wizard of all things synth embarked on creating a true masterpiece. He threw down a spectacular edit combining Moskva-Kassiopeya’s “Decay” set to the eponymous movie (Decay) from 1974. The track itself is a space synth opera. Spanning over 7 minutes long, the piece is a sonic wonder in analog beauty from start to finish. Meandering and winding through a wonderland of Moog vibes, the track is reminiscent of a late 70s sci-fi analog soundtrack. I hear tinges of Italo horror interspersed, with Fulci, Argento and Susperia coming to mind. The moods evoked are indeed tense and foreboding, yet there is a sense of beauty and wonder in the execution of such an ambitious piece. Intermittent with a tape warp/pitch effect, the track steers through segments; the listener feels as if they are in a foreign world, isolated space, somewhere cold and distant.
The video itself is a beautiful fit with the depth and richness of the track. Haunting and rich imagery from this film (which I couldn’t find much information on) seems to tell the story of the USSR space exploration program and journey in fictional format. A group of scientists travel to space and find themselves in a foreign world, reminiscent of Dali and a surrealist environment. They return to the ship and become overwhelmed with gas and fumes when their ship malfunctions. The headlines at home print articles mourning the loss of the crew. It’s hard to describe exactly what is unfolding and under what context, but the imagery is so fitting and strong for the kind of music set as a foundation. The power of this analog monster track combines for a flawless experience and journey through space with the selective shots Luigi lays down. The skill and taste in carefully crafted and choice edits set Luigi ahead of the majority of YouTube channels. Apart from his dedicated fan base, it’s nice to know he can put together an exceptional composition. Keep up the great work LD. You mean so much to so many.
#4 Flores - Bath Salts
Flores is one of the most promising of younger producers who is pioneering a pristine homage and representation in the best of pop 80s music, but also bringing dreamy Vaporwave inspired vocals to accompany his tracks. Bath Salts is an incredible arrangement that has the best of both worlds. Using analog hardware with minimal digital accompaniment, the quality in sound and knowledge in tasty chord progressions is evident with this one man show from Menifee, California.
The track begins with joyous and bubbling synthesizers lapped over a classic breakbeat/clap combination, digging deep into the nostalgia and love of the 80s soundtracks in our favorite John Hughe’s movies. There is an innocence and sophistication in the music of Flores. He manages to capture the senses with beautiful arrangements, as a haunting and reverbed voice splays over the piece with an ominous yet comforting effect. The precision is sharp, as this producer has the innate ability to craft memorable pieces. I just love this, and actually have had the tune on repeat for a while now.
The visual accompaniment to this splendid work is indeed the best part of the package. Flores has managed to capture our hearts and ears with a surreal video of himself singing over a green screen of underwater splendor. Through water, fish, radiant light and spectrums of blue, our vocalist shines through in tasteful fashion, giving us a glimpse of the man himself. Emotional and honest, I sincerely appreciate the level of attention Flores gives you. It’s clear music is close to his heart, and sharing that with us with such a wonderful visual creation really does add to the experience in a way other artists fail to do. I feel comfortable and engaged when watching this video that doesn’t shine for it’s ability to be high budget, but because it’s creative, emotional and above all *real.* Thanks for your gifts Flores, your work is fantastic.
#3. 20SIX Hundred - Critical Momentum (presented by Anony Muzsic)
20SIX Hundred has established himself as a heavy contender when it comes to making horror, sci-fi inspired and darker retrowave tracks. This artist has a knack for tapping into influences from pioneering artists such as John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream and even Emerson and Palmer (when you take a closer listen) Spectacular and detailed melodies, arpeggiations and sonic soundscapes of wonder and journey really just begin to touch on the many facets Darren Jones (the man behind the skull and black leather gloves) has to offer. Whether dark or atmospheric, the range of sounds is indeed impressive and almost transcending…as he has a propensity to touch on ambient textures within his songs.
With a brand new track, Critical Momentum, 20SIX Hundred fires pistons to take you on a ride full of light and wonder. Fast and determined, this powerful arrangement shows what 20SIX Hundred has in his arsenal of sounds. Beautiful, layered melodies combine for an out of body experience. Swirling arpeggiations surround a heavy and driving beat. I can really feel the purpose behind this, and the guitar that enters halfway through is gorgeous. It’s clear to me Darren was made to make music, and those who are fortunate enough to dig a bit deeper into his work will be rewarded.
The video that accompanies this track is mind blowing. It’s a perfect example of what found footage can become. Quick edits with a tasteful manipulation in imagery, layers, speed and subject matter all combine for a visual experience that pulls you in for each frame. Canvassing an array of moods and subject matter, the video flashes between so much it’s difficult to put it into context. Traveling through tunnels made of light, surfing through analog layers of tape and boom box heaven, researching the human body, flying through space…see? Now I’m sounding weird. It’s just something you will have to watch and absorb in your own time. You won’t be disappointed. Top notch pacing and editing make this found video collage in life and sound a work of art. Synthetix Telegenic is proud to feature such strong work.
#2. Meteor - Escape the Fate
2016 is the year of Meteor. He took the synthwave scene by storm with his monumental release Parallel Lives. (Without a doubt some of the best 80s driven inspired works of art to come out in some time.) The force, momentum and talent behind each of his tracks are incredible. Dynamic would be an understatement. With his ability to connect us to the best in soundtrack themed tunes, this artist has an exceptional talent with guitar, which tastefully shreds through select compositions.
In Escape the Fate, Meteor delivers his signature brand of suave, finessed and complex synthwave. Polished drums lead the way for a symphony in sounds. Beautiful leads, pads and bass come together for an energetic and moody piece that is so lush and tasty. I can see this well placed in a movie with our hero battling evil to reclaim the city. Funny, it’s a theme I place with Meteor on more than one occasion. Exceptional.
The video is a foray into the world of Meteor. It’s nighttime. She walks alone. He waits. Professionally shot and debuted through the NewRetroWave channel, the video is sleeked with noir themed tinges throughout, spellbinding and compelling in addition to the music coaxing the story along. We are introduced to our protagonist, he is shown through an ominous blend of lights. (and of course behind shades) A woman at night walks to her car and encounters what could be her last moments alive. A man flashes a knife and threatens the woman. Our hero emerges from the shadows and delivers her from harm. Quite fitting, Meteor does the same thing with his music. With careful shot selection and a grasp of edits, this video stands apart from others with a seamless blend of visuals and audio efforts. Stellar and well applauded Meteor.
#1. Beverly Girl - Contagious
This sleeked out retro pop/new wave outfit from Finland dazzles and amazes listeners with their latest visual masterpiece and song, “Contagious.” Kicking off with the most authentic of 80s sound (reminiscent of more current retro-themed artists like Sunglasses Kid and Phaserland) the music is undeniably sweet and pleasing.
Funked out with a breakbeat, clap and Linndrum bass, the track layers just the right amount of beautiful and shimmering synths choreographing a splendid blend of “contagious 80s sounds.” (And we haven’t even touched on the singing.) A powerful and flawlessly produced set of vocals explodes with one of the most talented voices I’ve heard before. A bubbly and incredibly catchy refrain turns into emotive verses that capture the best of the 80s. Structure wise, these guys understand how to put a song together. A spine tingling bridge with the momentum of 80s full force behind allow me to close my eyes and be transported to a better time. I activate Wayfarer and bleached jean jacket mode, sleeking back the hair one more time to make sure it’s in place. I’m ready to drive. This is just too awesome.
The video itself is a masterpiece. Three enigmatic musicians on stage emerge from a haze of purple. The lights, editing and arrangement of these rockers in action makes for splendid edits and pacing. Each artist is performing the track “live” on a nightclub stage, and the range of cutaways and choreographed moves sets this in a professional category of it’s own. The crafting of each moment with detail and focus on the beautiful lead vocalist immediately captures your attention. Through swirling lights and dissolves, my reaction is nothing short of enamored and stunned. The bridge switches gears effortlessly and a deeper mood of shooting unfolds, a silhouette against the dazzle of purple and white spectrum of light. What a delicious arrangement and video, completely deserving of the number one place on Synthetix Telegenic for this edition and a genuinely stand out experience for the Synthetix.FM vaults.
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