“Servants of Onu” by DRONN

a3931276357_10DRONN, the dungeon synth side project of the synthwave renaissance man known as Gregorio Franco, returns once more with their darkest and creepiest release yet entitled “Servants of Onu.” Ideal for listening alone in the middle of a cold autumn night or when huddled together in a group when delving deep into a dimly lit cavern while rolling twenty-sided dice, DRONN perfectly encapsulates the terrifying experience of the unknown like an unseen eldritch horror from beyond this mortal coil.

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“Time Shift EP” by Nightlights

a1328061265_10Every release by Nightlights is not unlike a bag of candy-coated synthwave that you can’t help but gobble up by the handful as their music is a dreamy mixture of chill pop and retro dance. Their most recent release, the titular “Time Shift EP,” is no different in this regard as its not only an enjoyable album all on its own but like many of the albums in Nightlights’ catalog it provides itself as a welcomed palate cleanser to the sometimes harsher tones of other more heavier synthwave releases.

“20XX Volume II: A Tribute to the Music of Mega Man X” by Gregorio Franco

a2004897830_10Gregorio Franco continues to prove that they’re not only one of the hardest working producers around, what with the ability to produce top notch release after release in relatively quick succession, but they’re also one of the most versatile as each of their subsequent releases tops the one before in both production and stylistic variety. Clearly a fan of the Mega Man X series of video games, Gregorio Franco furthers that masterwork tradition in a second volume of covers which simply rock, man.

“Incomplete” by IndiGhost

a0887466376_10“Incomplete” is an apt title for such a bittersweet release because, according to IndiGhost themselves, this will be their last album. Fret not though as they will be back soon enough, albeit under a different name, so by no means is this their true final chapter; however it’s a fitting end to one even still. IndiGhost has always had a masterful ability to flawlessly utilize both synths as well as guitars and this album is no exception; it will leave you wanting more and waiting for what’s next.

“Life Sim Cafe” by Gyoza King

a3209275429_10Gyoza King is another side project for neon shudder, who also produces under low.poly.exception, and their album Life Sim Cafe is like an eclectic mix of drinks off its retro-electro menu. As the album art might suggest there’s a bit of a 1990’s video game vibe to be found within but it’s so much more than that as its influences further range from anime to synthwave. It’s altogether lighter fare than what they usually produce, which is nice as it shows their range, so sit back, relax, and enjoy.

The Sub-Genrefication of Synthwave

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There inevitably comes a time in any musical genre when those within its collective scene will try to break it down further into even smaller and separate scenes, like cliques within a high school, to what is more commonly referred to as a “sub-genre.” Unfortunately, this can lead to a bit of unnecessary in-fighting about who is or isn’t in what sub-genre, what those sub-genres are actually called, and if they even exist at all. Worse yet it can lead to “gatekeeping,” which is akin to a doorman at an exclusive club who won’t let you in unless you meet a certain level of criteria or slip them ten bucks for entry if you’re that desperate.

So how does one define a sub-genre?

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“Everending Summer” by Die Scum Inc.

a2757040334_10Today is the start of summer, according to science, and therefore (according to me) it’s also (once again) the summer of synth! So let’s kick things off appropriately with the newest album by Die Scum Inc. entitled “Everending Summer” which, according to them, “seeks to capture the childhood nostalgia of the all too short Canadian summer. The long drives in the back of your parent’s car, nights in the arcade, and days on the lake.”

Die Scum Inc. further claim that “Everending Summer” is a bit of a departure from their “Notion Picture Soundtrack” format which their last two albums, My Fist is Fight and The Epoch Code, were known for but I would argue that it’s really not all that much of a musical detour in hindsight. In case you’re not familiar with their “Notion Picture Soundtrack” concept it’s all about the music with little to no story or background provided. This is done simply so that your mind can fill in the blanks and therefore make up your own narrative along the way.

While “Everending Summer” does have a supplied narrative, namely that of an ode to their memories of Canadian summers during their childhoods, I think I can safely declare that the music is actually quite universal in its ability to invoke similar memories of summer days gone-bye from many a childhood. Which is to say that I too can recall summers down by the lake, at the arcade, and trips in the car with my parents all the same while listening to the album.

However that is not to say that my memories of such are the same as Die Scum Inc. or anyone else listening to this album, of course not, but my overall point here is that Die Scum Inc. have somehow managed to expertly tap directly into the essence of those memories to create such sounds which can so clearly resonate. It’s not unlike a rock being dropped into the middle of a lake, water rippling outward in its wake, as it’s initial effect can still be felt by others across the waves of time. That is why I feel that “Everending Summer” is, in fact, the “Notion Picture Soundtrack” to summer, personal or otherwise, in such a regard.

Oh yeah and if you want this album on cassette, or their previous two albums as well for that matter, then head on over to DieScumInc.com for more information!

Limited Edition “Outrun the Sun” Compilation Cassette Tape from Kill All Music!

There was a time when I would buy just about every synthwave cassette tape that I came across and can therefore boast a pretty notable collection as a result. However in the past year or so, due mostly in part to student loans kicking into repayment, I’ve become a bit more strategic in my purchases not only in terms of physical synthwave media but with just about everything else in life too. It’s mostly due to this that, as much as I had intended to go, I will unfortunately be unable to attend the Outrun the Sun festival this weekend in Los Angeles which is being brought to you by the wonderfully amazing folks over at NEO-LA.

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Check out the Facebook event pages for Day 1 and Day 2 of Outrun the Sun!

I am devastated by this for many reasons, such as I will not be able to see some great acts perform live and therefore support the synthwave scene in turn as well as meet some friends, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I had also hoped to score myself a limited edition cassette tape made specifically for the event…

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The Wrestlefication of Synthwave

In the 1980’s the world of pop culture saw a meteoric rise of two media entities which would encompass the decade as a whole with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and Music Television (MTV). Therefore it should have come to no surprise that the two would eventually cross paths, team up, and unleash their combined mega powers onto the whole wide world with what would eventually become known simply as the “Rock and Wrestling Connection.”

b50f953cc0020e049cf34bb5f9c8ca2aIt made sense, in many ways, as wrestling and music (especially that of the 1980’s) are not all that different from one another what with the performance aspect, the over the top (rope) theatrics, and larger than life personalities. This rise in national exposure through cable television for both the WWF and MTV meant that, in order to stand out and be noticed, wrestlers and musicians alike had to be bigger, badder, and louder than the next act and this was often accomplished through adopting a certain type of persona, gimmick, or aesthetic.

Now I’m not going to ramble on and on here without acknowledging that adopting a persona in music is nothing new. That would be foolish of me because it’s obviously a practice which was going on well before the 1980’s. That said, it would also be foolish of me to try and name all of them or to even try and trace the origin of such a practice back through the history of music itself; that’s not the point of this article. The point of this article is that, over the years, I’ve come to realize that synthwave is a very unique genre in the sense that it is awash with those who have taken up such personas more so than I think any other genre really has before so quickly, save for maybe those genres which are truly niche like psychobilly for example. (I really reccomend some Deadbolt.)

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Sure, one could probably make an argument for just about any genre having its fair share of personas but there’s just some inherent quality to synthwave, and in a way electronic music as a whole, which lends itself to the concept just a little bit more and the parallels to professional wrestling are abound in this respect.

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