Take Control of the List

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When I posted my personal top ten video games of 2019 list, I did so under a few assumptions. Namely that the year was almost over and I’d already played all the games which were under consideration. I know that I may have “missed” some more notable titles, which tended to make other lists, but they were “missing” either because they just didn’t really interest me or I simply didn’t get to play ’em.

Control is a case of the latter, and it’s funny how things can quickly change.

First, and foremost, I can’t say that Control never interested me because it most certainly did. Remedy, the studio behind the game, is one of those studios whose games have always interested me in one way or another. Max Payne is legendary due to its mature story line and innovative game play, Alan Wake is legitimately one of my favorite games of all time (more on that in a bit), and I still respect what Quantum Break tried to do (blend a game with alternate path live action episodic segments) although I never personally got around to playing it myself.

That said, when Control was released back in August, there were two reasons why I never got around to playing it until now. One is okay, the other is dumb:

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I Smell Synthwave and Candy

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Back around October 25th, I went a little bit off the deep end on Twitter in terms of holidays with their respective timings and observations. People were complaining about there being Christmas decorations on display before Halloween, there was Halloween candy at stores in August, and clearly capitalism just continues to go unchecked to the point where holidays and seasons don’t really matter much anymore. Did they ever really matter?

That said, there were a number of Halloween related albums which were released within the synthwave scene around the end of September, and into October, but I have to admit that I just really wasn’t feeling the spirit of the season at the time. In fact, by the end of October, I decided it was best to take a month long hiatus from the internet and so I therefore celebrated “No Net November” by staying off social media. Now that I’ve returned, and have more or less gotten back on my feet in more ways than one, I’ve suddenly got that feeling back in terms of wanting to indulge in a little bit of Halloween… in December.

Honestly, I still see no problem with this and so I stick to my previously mentioned tweet; I don’t think you really need to let holidays and seasons dictate when you should and can enjoy something. We’re a couple months removed from the “spooky season” and Halloween, yes, but does that mean I shouldn’t be able to go back and enjoy something now which was meant for only then? Just as how you can eat a turkey dinner every other day of the year besides Thanksgiving, and how you should show someone you love them every other day besides Valentine’s Day, I believe that you should be able to enjoy scary synthwave music any day of the year as well; that’s what darksynth is for, no?

Anyway, here’s a fun size sampling of Halloween related synthwave albums which I enjoyed along with me comparing them to brands of candy (with no gimmick infringement intended towards OSW) just because, hey, why not?

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Microchip Terror: The VHS Box Edition

Not to sound like any more of an old man than I already am, considering I probably did enough of that in my last post, but you know what I also miss? Video Rental Stores! I can still recall a time, back in the early-to-mid 1990’s, when there were no less than half a dozen of them in my immediate area; and I’m not just talking Blockbuster! These were mostly small, privately owned, and of the Mom & Pop variety; yet they were no slouches when it came to their selection and presentation! One of them had a popcorn machine, another had a mini theater, and one had a massive wall of wrestling tapes. It was a magical time.

While there were certainly a lot of pros and cons associated with video rental stores, which led to their eventual downfall in the late-1990’s and early 2000’s thanks to the rise of Netflix and others, I do yearn for their return at times. Yes, it’s most certainly easier to just peruse a streaming service in your own home, where you don’t have to worry about something being out of stock, but at the same time there’s been a feeling lost in translation in terms of no longer having something physical to inspect. I mean, when I think back to my days of meandering through the shelves at my local video rental stores, I often recall admiring each and every section but mostly the horror and sci-fi sections.

Which, in so many words, is why I enjoy the “VHS Box Edition” of Microchip Terror’s debut full-length album, “Illegal Experiments.” It reminded me of those days when I would relish the thrill of the hunt in discovering a new release. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Neocities

twoneocitiesI was born in the mid-1980’s, and therefore I spent most of my early years in the 1990’s, so there’s always been this weird sense of belonging to the “proto-millennials” as I can still vividly remember a time before the internet and when computer technology became ever so commonplace. As some examples, I went from using a standalone Apple II in elementary school to using an internet-ready iMac by high school. I used payphones to call collect and was then amazed when I first saw a portable phone. I experienced the last glory days of arcades, and their downfall, as 2D graphics on home consoles using cartridges gave way to 3D powerhouses which harnessed the potential of CD based media. There was truly a sense of living in a time of great progress and promise back then, when sweeping changes in technology brought with it such an optimistic outlook for the future ahead.

Twirl,” by Alpha Chrome Yayo, is an album which not only encapsulates those feelings but gives off an aura not unlike one might imagine from a genie in a lamp; potent magic which was somehow bottled has now been unleashed. While Alpha Chrome Yayo wrote some wonderful linear notes about the album, and what all it meant to him, I nonetheless felt compelled to write some of my own… Continue reading

“Matter” by Paladin

a3496307663_10The original release of “Matter” was one of the first modern synth-based albums that I came across and I’ve been hooked ever since. While this re-release is a bit of a remix in comparison, I still love it all the same if not more so as Paladin can do no wrong to my ears. There’s just an overall uniqueness to their approach that’s unlike anything else out there. I simply cannot put into words what that is exactly other than it’s as if a wizard’s magic has transported you to another space in time.

“RE:MIXED [The Save Rooms]” by Mono Memory

a2941814801_16This album is like coming across an old memory card which contains save data for a familiar game that you’re excited to play again, to which you immediately continue from where you left off, but now through the hindsight of a modern lens. It’s all quite familiar, and yet so very different, as Mono Memory proves with every track that they’re the master of unlocking the past through their unique remixes. If you want to see S.T.A.R.S. than Mono Memory will give them to you. This is an S-Rank album.

“The Sun Also Sets” by Vampire Step-Dad

a3876597256_10“The Sun Also Sets” may not contain the usual fang-in-cheek pageantry which most of Vampire Step-Dad’s recent releases have been known for utilizing, in terms of an opening sitcom-like sketch and/or a centralized theme, but it still has some serious melodic bite regardless. Which is to say that, while you won’t find many blood pumping guitar-laden tracks on this album, the synth-fueled melancholy melodies on here are plentiful and reaffirm Vampire Step-Dad as an accomplished maestro of emotions.

“Wave Motion” by Purple Goldfish

a2286691341_10Part chiptune, part synthwave, and a whole lot of heart; that’s how I choose to best describe “Wave Motion” by Purple Goldfish.

While mostly known for being one half of Big Lich, the chiptune and darksynth inspired instrumental power metal duo, this album is certainly on the lighter side in comparison to that although there are still some somber moments intertwined.

That said, this album is an excellent showcase of not only Purple Goldfish’s solo abilities but a wonderful album in its own right.