The Horrornauts: A Night with The Horrornauts

a0690430991_10I’m not usually one for lists, but I feel compelled in this case to break down the following in such a way as to the Three Reasons Why I Love The Horrornauts:

  1. They remind me of a band that would play during the horror host segments of a cheesy midnight movie. You know the kind I’m talking about, right? Elvira, Mistress of the Dark? TNT’s MonsterVision? USA’s Up All Night? Well, then again, maybe you don’t because they’re not as prevalent as they used to be although there’s still some out there carrying the freak flag high. Count The Horrornauts among them, even if perhaps that were not their original intention, because they’ve certainly got that aesthetic down.

2.  They’re like synthwave meets psychobilly. I went through a bit of a weird musical phase during the late 90’s/early 2000’s which saw me digging hard on 1950’s surfer rock, rockabilly and then, by extension, the more modern equivalent in psychobilly. It all more or less started one night when a friend of mine, who often listens to more “out there” music, introduced me to the band Deadbolt. Well, the movie “Six-String Samurai,” which featured The Red Elvises, also helped. Anyway, listening to The Horrornauts transported me back to those days.

3. They’re uniquely original. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t saying ‘uniquely original’ kind of redundant?” Well, like my friend Echosynthetic said in his review over on The Horrornaut’s Bandcamp page: “The Horrornauts have managed what most bands struggle with… using their influences without becoming an imitation.” Now, while I can’t rightfully sit here and tell you exactly who or what their influences are I can at least tell you who and what they remind me of as I’ve already done above. Is it accurate? Maybe. Maybe not.

The point is this: in a genre filled with neon sunsets, grids, palm trees and fast cars there exists certain acts which don’t tie themselves down so tightly to synthwave in terms of making the synth the driving force behind the music. It’s there, for sure, in the music of The Horrornauts but they’re not subservient to it as they instead harness it for their own purposes to make some killer music.

 

 

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Alex Barbarian: Nerves

a0434194987_10This past year has seen a real surge within the synthwave scene from a steady rise in live shows to an overall increase in acts, albums, and tracks but depending on who you ask will also depend on if this is all a good thing or not. Some say that it’s a simply a case of the more the merrier, meaning that the more acts there are the more the genre as a whole gets noticed, grows, and flourishes in turn.

However, some are just as quick to point out the old “too many cooks in the kitchen” proverb, citing a heightened sense of saturation which has unfortunately lead to some acts becoming casualties in the seemingly never ending “release wars” where acts are pushing out material at a breakneck speed.

Regardless of your position on the matter, something can at least be said for any act that doesn’t get the attention that they so rightfully deserve and especially at no other time than right after releasing a full-length album. I myself am no saint and will publicly admit that, while I knew full well that Alex Barbarian released their album Nerves back in October of 2017, it wasn’t until recently that I actually gave it a proper listen and I’m glad that I finally did because again it is just tragic how much this album got overlooked; it only has two purchases on Bandcamp as of this writing, in fact, and one of those is me! Stop and listen to this right now:


Hailing from Huntington Beach, California, Alex Barbarian has masterfully crafted a rather haunting assortment of slow, calculated, and methodically heavy bass-laden synth tracks that border on the surreal and remind me very much of Trevor Something in the album’s overall execution. Such a comparison is by no means done to overshadow the uniqueness of the tracks here, but rather a familiar similarity as a gateway for those who may still be unsure if they’re ready to turn the key on such potential that’s to be unlocked and experienced.

Said potential comes in the form of quite an eclectic mix in terms of the tracks on the album, offering something for everyone, from the more ambient ones like “The Tension” and “The Thoughts,” to the equally impressive vocals on others featuring Krista Marina, namely “Bliss” and “Yucca Field, Pt. 2,” whose voice helps to add a mesmerizing infusion of slow jam synthpop and jazz sensibilities.

Then, of course, there is Alex Barbarian himself whose dulcet tones are themselves quite fluid in sound and are able to really convey a raw emotion in the process. Some might find them to be a bit emotionless, perhaps maybe even a tad too robotic, but I feel that would be simply making a gross oversimplification as I couldn’t imagine any other type of vocal work at play here in this video:

Alex Barbarian has been rather quiet since the release of Nerves, having only released a few tracks over on his Soundcloud, but you can also follow him over on Twitter too. Show him some love, ya’ll, seriously. He absolutely deserves it.

Mega Ran: Strangers

a2734730116_10Synthwave is a very versatile genre, able to be utilized in a variety of ways, ebbing and flowing in and out of other genres as its influence spreads not unlike a shadow monster from the upside down. Therefore, it should come to little or no surprise that rap would eventually take notice and lay down some bars to coincide with the beats that only synthwave can provide. While Mega Ran, nerdcore rapper extraordinaire, is by no means the first to do so he still does so with that certain style and flair that only he can provide. However, he’s not going it completely alone as not only is Lynx Kinetic by his side, but he’s also got his own party of synthwavers backing him up by supplying the aforementioned synthbeats thanks to Isidor and DEADLIFE. Continue reading

Kid Neon: Darker Days

a3675352460_16If 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.

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Isidor: 3218

a2991559968_10There 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.

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Baali Soda: Neon Knight

a3755461491_16Synthwave 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.

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Knichael Might: Hyperspace

a0536925779_10Released 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.

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Rated-R: American Slasher Funk

a0910017548_10There’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.

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Bonggita: Neon Marble

a1439383980_10Before 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.

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