Friday, April 29, 2016


It's rare, but occasionally I'll come across an artist on soundcloud whose been around for years, but seemingly has zero connection with another artist - but they share a similar sound.

DREAMS WEST has been around for 5 or so, (at the time of this writing)  - and that's a while in the internet age. It surprised me to hear similarities between his work and HIGH TIDES's self-titled album though, given I'd never seen the two appear together in any playlists or associated tracks.

Give both a listen and see~

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rise of the Synths - Documentary

The Rise of the Synths
, sounding like '50s B-movie that never was is actually an crowd funding effort to by director Ivan Castell to create a documentary about the very music genre I've focused on the past few years: 'Sythwave', 'Retrowave', or just '80s sounding stuff' to some,

“... At least for me, it’s a reinterpretation of a retro sound that taps into somewhere in your brain and brings back memories from your childhood,” he told Vehlinggo recently. Basically, he’s saying that what these artists are doing isn’t always retro, or always 80s, but they’re using the pastiche and modern production to evoke particular moods. I tend to agree." [link]
I've written about the topic early on in this blog, mainly because it was something that I never saw articulated anywhere else. It was music that just emerged online without a physical touring or mainstream presence and tapped directly into how I imagined the future would sound as a child in the late 80's and early '90s.

I'm very interested to see what comes of this documentary, particularly given the lineup currently listed:

College, Electric Youth, Maethelvin, Com Truise, Miami Nights 1984, Kristine, Lazerhawk, Mitch Murder, Power Glove, Futurecop!, OGRE, Dance with the Dead, Night Crawler, Vincenzo Salvia, Stellar Dreams, The Midnight, Jordan F, Betamaxx, 80s Stallone, Dynatron, Darkest, Carpenter Brut, Timecop1983, Waveshaper, and MPM Soundtracks.
The whole interview is worth reading, and I'd hope anyone with a love of this musical genre pledges some kind of support to the documentary maker. It would certainly create a nice musical touchstone to show people unfamiliar with this style of music - and to help delineate it from actual 80's synthpop.


Monday, April 25, 2016

The transition of remixes and covers: Under your Spell

Discovering how different musicians and remix artists reinterpret an older song can be an interesting journey to take. Case in point - 'Under Your Spell' by the 80's group DESIRE.

A common complaint was the 80's 'Breakfast Club'-esk talking interlude in the middle of the original song:

 An edit exists that removes this interlude:

Other artists have reinterpreted the song further, while incorperating improvements to it's structure like the clean edit:

Other versions, perhaps released as B-Sides provide an acoustic/synth only track:

Among the most distant renditions is a looped vaporwave version, highlighting the core aspects of the song:

Friday, March 11, 2016

FUTURE SHOCK: Orson Wells brings us Beyond the Black Rainbow

I had the pleasure of watching the late Orson Wells narrate/star in FUTURE SHOCK, a mid-1970s schlocky documentary about how too much change too quickly could destroy (western) society.

I remember the book, and it's interesting cover on my grandfather's book shelf when I was a child. He was an avid reader of Vonnegut and JFK assassination theories - disseminated in the pre-digital age as small novelette-sized printed books. The original film (which was originally created for screening at the Cannes Film festival) feels like something my grandfather would have enjoyed:

Aside from the synthy music, what struck me about the documentary was how seriously it took it self. "We're faced with so many choices, so many decisions, and we have to make them so quickly. None of us can escape the pressures. That's what future shock is all about." Orson Wells reads this dramatically over '70s disco montage music showing various things people can purchase, including 8-track tapes. While incredibly dated, that's part of the charm of this 'documentary'. From a modern point of view, it documents a future that never came to pass - at least not in the form predicted.
Consistently, FUTURE SHOCK (perhaps intentionally), blended 'modern day' late '60s/ early '70s footage into what it predicted will be the future.  At times, I couldn't tell if they were showing an interview with a person from the '70s about science, pharmacology, hitch hiking or polyamorous living, - or if those sections were intended to be set in some distopian 'future'. The aim seemed to gleefully revel at change, and simultaneously communicate how TERRIFYING this change was, and that you shouldn't like it.

I decided to watch BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW afterwards: it's a modern film set and styled as occurring in 1983 which deals with similar issues. Playing the ending of FUTURE SHOCK over top of this films' cassette tape-style introduction created a nice bridge - almost as if FUTURE SHOCK was a spiritual prequel to Panos Cosmatos film:

The intro 'Promotional' video above for the Arboria Institute above is the beginning to BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW. This film is fictionally set in the same time frame as FUTURE SHOCK, and it provides an interesting segway: it posits that the disposable, futuristic society Wells drones about actually comes to pass in the form of Huxley's Brave New World -- an assembly line society where everyone is medicated by a societal elite. People struggle to cope in this dark, 'future shocked' world, and turn instead to 'benign pharmacology, sensory therapy, and energy sculpting, " to find "contentment and inner peace". 

Be sure to check out the article about FUTURE SHOCK at which goes into some interesting detail about the production and the ideas within.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

MOLAM - Psychedelic music from Thailand's countryside.

Molan music emerged from Issan, a location in Thailand outside of the urban centers. "Isaan [and it's Molan music] is like being from Idaho," a backwater burg to urban Thais who view it as the place where the city's taxi drivers and domestic workers hail from.
"The 20th century strain of Molam music features trippy riffs, hypnotic patterns, and drawn-out, inventive solos. Maft Sai's favorite era of Molam is slightly older than he is, though. "The modern Molam sound actually comes from the 70s. It's like reggae. They use the same lines but each band uses slightly different instrumentation and style. Some use the traditional phin and khaen, some use a brass band; some add guitar or keyboard."