If you’re familiar with TimeSlave Recordings, and you should be because not only have we covered many artists under their umbrella but they’re also one of the best synthwave labels out there today, then you may be familiar with Kid Neon. As one half of the founding brothers of TimeSlave Recordings, the music of Kid Neon has appeared on some of their past compilations such as Future Sounds Vol.1 [and the Redux], A Taste of the Future, Fear the Future Vol.1, and Project TSL01. In fact, if you purchased all of these compilations, you’ll find that about half the songs on Darker Days can also be heard on these previously released collections. However, this factoid is not to belittle the accomplishments that this album has itself collected as there are remastered and even remixed versions of said songs to be found within. Beyond that it is simply a long overdue spotlight for Kid Neon to truly shine on his own after sharing that spotlight for so long, to which he shines so very brightly indeed.
There is a subgenre of synthwave that I have talked a little bit about in the past and, truth be told, it’s probably one of my favorites that I don’t think a lot of people are either aware of or fully understand and that is spacewave. I will concede that it is honestly a hard subgenre to nail down, often floating between other more well known ones, but to me it’s categorized by a grandiose scale of sound in terms of its production and overall scope. It recalls images of stars, planets, and epic battles among them in the distant future of our own galaxy or perhaps a long time ago in another far, far away.
Synthwave is an amazing genre of music for many reasons, of which I could certainly go more into depth as to why, but one such example that I want to highlight today is its overall global appeal. Other than simply the fans of said genre, there are producers who make the music from all over the world as well. Such is the case with Baali Soda who hails from India and, from the lack of any purchases on his Bandcamp page, seems to be a relative unknown that I would like to highlight today because he deserves some recognition! While he does have a collection of single tracks to discover, I instead singled out (see what I did there?) his full length album Neon Knight.
Released back in January, Hyperspace is the debut album from the Pennsylvania based producer Knichael Might and is a real smörgåsbord of sound. What is meant by this is that each track feels different, like an entirely unique dish served among an electronic music buffet, so trust me when I say that you’re going to want a hefty sampling of each. In fact, chances are that, like me, you’ll only be left hungry for more! Let’s dig in.
There’s a number of things out there that go pretty damn good together. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Thunder and Lightning. Nuts and Bolts. Blood and Guts. However, when it comes to synthwave, there can be something said about how certain subgenres go well with specific themes such as the companion piece that is darksynth and horror movies. In the case of Rated-R, this is executed as intended, dripping with that certain type of synth-sleaze that one could only hear on the soundtrack of a late 70’s/early 80’s B-movie slasher flick.
Before I begin this review proper I just want to impart some advice: never sleep on anything. Earlier this year I received a direct message on Twitter from my friend who runs Echosynthetic, an amazing website that also covers the synthwave scene, and he explicitly told me to check out Bonggita because he knew instantly that it was something special. I checked out Bonggita‘s first release entitled The Bonggitaria Incident, which Echosynthetic reviewed and conducted an interview as well, but unfortunately I never quite got around to reviewing it for this here website.
Like with any genre in the realm of music there exists a number of subgenres under the synthwave umbrella such as darkwave, chillwave, vaporwave, spacewave (to name a few) but one that not many are aware of is dungeon synth. Although not a new concept in many ways, as it can trace it’s roots back a couple decades now, dungeon synth has none the less seen a bit of a revival in the past few years thanks in part to the rise of synthwave.
Releasing their first EP back in February, which we reviewed, Nightlights contributes their own brand of neon-soaked goodness to the summer of synth with their follow-up EP entitled Forever. Much like their previous release, the aforementioned Shadows EP, this album is an equally infectious collection of songs that’ll get you up and moving. It all begins right out the gate with a tantalizing intro track, “In The Beginning,” which much like the wonderful cover to the album itself gives those summer sunset vibes.
With the #SummerofSynth starting to come to a close we begin to wrap things up with another stellar release by Ethereal Delusions in the form of Ascension. After starting the summer with the release of the single “Wingman (featuring Noah Bernstein),” and then following that up with a collaborative album with KiLoSo entitled DAY|NIGHT (which unfortunately we haven’t got around to reviewing yet due to our hiatus), it ends with another full length album that is easily Ethereal Delusions’ best work yet.