JJ Christie: Fresh New Idea

a0367008186_10If you haven’t heard of JJ Christie, you need to start paying attention, because he’s been doing some great work in the synthwave community. When he’s not helping to bring together a variety of artists, under the Filtersweep Collective, he’s publishing his own work such as the newly released “Fresh New Idea” which is a great collection of synthpop tunes from the land down under.

Preceding the release with a newsletter campaign, which contained backstory and context for the album, it was a great way to get familiarized with the concept and design that went into the music. I always appreciate when this is done.

For example, with the first track entitled “7th Heaven (Desolation Mix),” it was interesting to learn that it was originally written in 1994, on a Korg Wavestation EX, and was remixed and remastered for this release. The track itself is great, having an otherworldly feel to it, like I’m spiralling through space and time.

Speaking of time travel, the next song “Pay Per View” feels like being transported back to the actual 1980s, with music and lyrics that reminded me of the New Wave movement. In fact, I would dare say that the majority of the album feels this way, which isn’t a bad thing nor is it honestly all that surprisingly considering that JJ Christie has been in the game longer than most in the synthwave community in terms of his overall music producing career.

That said, he is quite versatile, and again while most of the album carries with it that vocalized infused new wave sound, there are some darker elements to also be found in the last track on the album. “The Night (Resolution Mix)” is a nice bookend to the first track, as they have a similar otherworldly feel, but the difference between them is not unlike that of the light side vs. the dark side.

Overall, this is a fantastic release, and implore you to lend your support!

Martyn Stonehouse: Digital Dark Age

a4286338511_10I have a confession to make: as someone that collects synthwave related physical media, there are times when I purchase said media without actually listening to the music in question first, and this was one such case. I should note that I do eventually listen to the music but, as I said before, I often buy first and listen later due to the limited edition nature of most synthwave related physical media; I get while the getting is still in supply.

As a fan of all synthwave music, from the lighter chillwave fare to the more intense darkwave, there has not really been a standout instance yet in my mind of regretting a purchase in such a carefree way. In fact, with “Digital Dark Age,” it ended up being one of the most surprising and would end up touching me on more levels than I ever expected from a random purchase.

I say this because, underneath its surface, there are three layers to this album which speak to me on a personal level that I would like to peel away one-by-one:

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Interview with the NightStalker!

15391165_1827183230838952_1634585638321265152_nLast week I reviewed “Destination Dystopia” by NightStalker, an excellent collection of dark and gritty synth work peppered with choice voice samples to create a thrilling experience, and now I’m back this week with an exclusive interview to learn more about this stalker of the night in a raw and unedited Q&A session.

Before jumping right in, I just want to say on a personal level that this is my first interview with hopefully many more to come, and that they would not be possible if it wasn’t for how awesome artists in the synthwave scene are when talking one-on-one. NightStalker has been nothing but helpful and responsive, a pleasure to speak with, and I thank him once again for granting me this interview.

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FACEXHUGGER: EP

a1669087389_10If “Chasing Replicants” was FacexHugger‘s “Alien,” then his recently released self-titled follow-up EP is certainly his “Aliens.” By this I mean that, while “Chasing Replicants” was mostly dark, brooding, and not unlike a dread-filled horror movie, this EP is more akin to an action movie while still retaining elements of the original. Some of the songs are more upbeat, fast paced, and in your face while others are that familiar darksynth.

The first couple songs, “Savage Streets” and “Chopping Mall” (one of my favorite horror films), are the aforementioned more upbeat tracks on this release in comparison to what FacexHugger has done before. “Savage Streets,” in particular, has modulated vocal-like work that pairs nicely with a head-bopping beat, while “Chopping Mall” brings some more intensity with the fast paced synth work.

“The X is Silent” (a nice little wink to his own name) is, to me, the turning point of this release when we dip back down into the more darker material and is honestly my favorite track on the EP. While it is indeed a little bit darker than the previous two songs, even though starting off on equal footing in terms of that trademark intensity, it ends on such a cosmically haunting note that it legit sent shivers down my spine. That alone is why it’s my favorite track on here.

“LV-426” (this did get released on Alien day!) has a lot in common with “Savage Streets,” using that same sort of modulated vocal-like work, but here it’s a bit more sinister; almost like MU/TH/UR from the Nostromo made a synthwave song. The final track is a remix of “Replicant” from his first release and here, much like a few of the prior songs, it lends itself to a little bit of an more upbeat tone while still having that sense of underlying dread. This release as a whole is a great taste of the range FaceXHugger has and is a constant and pleasant surprise as I look forward to what’s next.

That said, this release is a must own and considering that it’s FREE you have no excuse, but I do implore you to still throw at least a buck or two towards your purchase (I did!) because these songs are fantastic and deserve any and all support you can give. Plus, don’t forget about the shirt too!

Synthwave Snacks: The Open FacexHugger Breakfast Sandwich

It started off as a joke but, the more I gave it thought, I knew it had to actually be done: synthwave inspired foods! The fact of the matter is that, when I’m not busy writing, my other big hobby is cooking. I love looking up recipes, trying out dishes, and getting creative in the kitchen with my own culinary designs. Therefore, not unlike ingredients themselves, I figured I’d combine two of my favorite things together into one awesome feast for the eyes, ears, and of course the mouth! So, let’s get started, shall we? I’m already hungry!

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DREDDD: I Am Dreddd

a3292124560_10I first became aware of Dreddd when someone told me about this awesome synthwave track that sampled audio from the Metal Gear Solid series. As someone that is quite a massive fan of said video game franchise, and synthwave, I knew that I had to take a closer look at such a mixture of peanut butter and chocolate.

After I had listened to that one track at least a dozen times, I delved deeper into the catalog of Dreddd, and what I found were many more awesome tracks that deserved attention. Therefore, I’d like to highlight just a few of them in this review:

  • BloDDD Bath is such a chill song, dare I say chillwave, the kind where I close my eyes and envision myself driving along the pacific coast highway at night.
  • On the reverse, Demon Parade is a nice piece of dark synth, with a pounding beat and heavy bass. It really shows Dreddd’s range to go from one to another.
  • With that in mind, LA River is quite the piece of outrun, with a high octane rhythm that keeps your blood pumping. The diversity in songs is amazing.

As I said, these are but a few choice samplings of what Dreddd has to offer, but you should honestly go and listen to them all. I’m not sure I can overstate enough just how fluid Dreddd is at being able to handle so many different styles of synth at once. I look forward to hearing what he tackles next, whatever that might be.

NightStalker: Destination Dystopia

a3476803415_10Labeling itself as “a dystopian soundtrack to the end of the world,” this release by NightStalker delivers the goods as a brooding collection of dark synth soaked songs that leave you feeling uneasy in the best way possible; like something straight out of a horror movie or crime thriller.

The opening track, “Tokyo Nights,” while containing vocal sampling in Japanese that I have no idea as to what is being said, is still a great primer which helps lead you into a false sense of security. I say this because the next track, “Lucas Task Force,” is only but a small taste of more brutal things to come.

Rising like a shadow in the night, the song is accompanied by the vocal sampling of a transaction gone wrong, and is a great setup for the next song which really showcases the strengths of NightStalker and their abilities to tell an engaging story with their music.

“Hunting Night” tells the story of the titular NightStalker, a serial killer, and the way in which the music interconnects with the vocal sampling here is just mesmerizing. I got flashbacks to Robert Stack on “Unsolved Mysteries” with the way in which the narrator in the song exposed exposition. The same could certainly be said about the next song, “Highway Hooker,” which features an interesting deathrow confession.

The last song, “Death Chaser,” is just straight up dark synth goodness that really highlights NightStalker’s arsenal of capabilities complete with guitars and distorted drums that hit all the right buttons. So much so that I purchased one of the limited edition cassettes for this release and urge you to do the same. If NightStalker is not on your radar, consider this your signal to do so, because I guarantee that they will be one to watch and listen.

Die Scum Inc.: My Fist is Fight: The Notion Picture Soundtrack

a0157263934_10I have a confession to make: I love really cheesy movies. The cheesier the better and there is nothing that oozes more cheese than martial arts films. That said, I really love the concept behind Die Scum Inc.‘s latest release of “My First is Fight: The Notion Picture Soundtrack,” as it presents itself as the soundtrack to a nonexistent action film.

Like my colleague Echosynthetic mentioned in his review, the music lends itself to your imagination in that your brain pieces together the music alongside the theater of your mind and thus the action film in question becomes real; it’s whatever you want it to be! Therefore, to me, it’s the soundtrack to a long lost Godfrey Ho ninja movie! Maybe with Pierre Kirby?

Either way, I must say that my favorite track is “Montage,” because every great movie has one; even Rocky had a montage! That said, I love how the backbeat of this song has that recognizable stinger which you hear in so many kung-fu action flicks. I don’t even know if said stinger has a proper name but, once you hear it, you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to and Die Scum Inc. did an amazing job in using it as a sample. I want this movie to be real, dammit!

Seriously, I cannot recommend this album enough, so use those ninja-like reflexes and order yourself a copy! As of this writing there are still cassette copies to be purchased, so why’re you waiting?  I think I have a screenplay to write…