Saturday, July 28, 2012

The many names of '80s Homage Music

A critique that the Chillwave term is too broad, or too confining for artists feels similar to debates about what is/isn't Witchhouse. I defer to the saying coined by the supreme court: "I'll know it when I see it".

This genre is really hard to pin down, and it's probably better for it. North American & European pop music, video game and movie soundtracks from the 1970's and 1980's all appears filtered through memory, and into this 'genre'. A single track that carries with it a chill, '80s vibe could be called one of many different names: synthwave, dreamwave, outrun, nu-disco, synthpop, retrowave, 80s revival, etc. - and honestly, with the exception of 'outrun', it's in the ear of the beholder. Genres are useful tags to help people find similar sounding music, but it's best not to get too hung up on what goes where.

Regardless, each artists offer something different than actual 80's pop or straight-up homages to italio disco/space synth. Listen for yourself, and track down more by the artists you like.

Power Glove - Nightforce

The Outrunners - Diamond

What many people think of as '80's synth is a byproduct of the hardware used in in that era by musicians. The strong, unfiltered synthesizers (Korgs, Rolands, etc.) once had significant limitations, including but not limited to: how many bars of music could be programmed/looped, lack of filters outside analogue studio equipment, etc. Newer artists recapturing/emulating that sound take it in interesting new directions though, as many work without the hardware limitations, thanks to newer equipment, or editing software workarounds.

Com Truise is another of my favorite synth-heavy, vintage computer sounding artists. Just about everything the guy touches is steeped with a catchy, vintage sound.

Check him out on Soundcloud:

Or his blog/site:

Com Truise - Polyhurt

Com Truise - Brokendate

Com Truise - VHS Sex

Com Truise's also does some excellent remixes. Neon Indian's original track Sleep Paralysist is good, but the dual remixes Com Truise produced take it to a different level.

Neon Indian - Sleep Paralysist (Com Truise 'Eyelid' Remix)

Neon Indian - Sleep Paralysist (Com Truise 'Disorder' Remix)

While College's live performance sound like looped 80's house music, it's another nu-disco outfit with an 80's synth sound that's produced some catchy tracks. I saw this solo act perform live in Toronto recently while on tour with Anoraak, and both put on a good show. It's little wonder they produce great collaborative tracks like Fantasy Park:

College - Fantasy Park (Feat. Anoraak)

College - Amira

College - Desire

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