Starfarer’s “Spaced Out” is a bit of a novel oddity to me. The cover artwork (also by Starfarer) is self-aware and well-crafted. It doesn’t just channel one period of American culture—it channels two. The overall color scheme and style has a sensibility that reminds me of late sixties Haight-Ashbury hippie culture. This is combined with a Saturn-faced astronaut standing in a purple and green haze overlooking some far-flung galaxy. This could have easily been on the cover of Heavy Metal magazine in the late seventies. It also would look stunning on a vinyl sleeve.
The overall vibe of “Spaced Out” made me feel like I was entering the mind of an astronaut who has seen every weird thing the universe has to offer. So where does one go from there? Well, according to our hero, Starfarer, it’s time to experience the final frontier in an entirely different way—high as fuck. The first time I listened to “Spaced Out” I remember giggling uncontrollably at the sample that plays at the beginning of “Lift Off!” It features a dude taking a long bong hit with spacey Darksynth vibes playing behind it. This took me completely off-guard. It was wonderful and entertaining. It helped break the ice, which made me enjoy the music even more.
Musically, “Spaced Out” reminds me of doomy southern stoner rock combined with dark synthwave. Starfarer does this successfully by creating a cultural amalgam with his music—just like the cover artwork. “Spaced Out” serves up some heavy bass tones throughout but they don’t overpower the spacey arpeggios and astral sounding synth leads. The sound quality is clear and enjoyable, but there’s also a certain analog “grit” that makes this different from most Synthwave. If you can imagine what Saint Vitus or Down (NOLA) would sound like if they played darksynth it probably would sound a lot like “Spaced Out.” Overall, I really dig this EP. “Spaced Out” is well worth the time if you have an ear for slow heavy space jams with an extra helping of DOOM.
That’s one small step for man…one giant spliff for mankind.
RECCOMMENED FOR: Spacetokers who like their darksynth southern, doomy, and instrumental.
Stand-out tracks: “One Way Trip” (best track)!, “Spacetoker,” and “Spaced-Out.”
Album Color Profile #3E2723:
You can find all things Starfarer at https://starfarer.bandcamp.com/
Let’s face it, 1980s inspired Synthwave/Outrun has lost a lot of its novelty over the last three years. Despite this, producers are still creating content for a genre MASSIVELY overflooded with projects. A lot of these projects aren’t so much actual Synthwave as they are other genres of music. Since when did Synthwave become the buzzword that opened doors in our search engines for producers who aren’t actually producing Synthwave?
Enter Retrodict. A Synthwave producer from Romania who produces actual Synthwave. Retrodict’s sophomore album “Marble Desert” is nothing short of what it claims to be. It’s fun, instrumental Synthwave that has that classic 1980s sound that we all love. Everything is here to help bring about nostalgia in even the most weather-torn synthwarrior: A pulsing low-end, dreamy synthesizers, and an attitude right out of the 1980s. “Marble Desert” sounds like a moody B-movie about a cop gone rogue. “Eyes on You” was my absolute favorite cut as it stands out as the most nostalgic and beautiful—at least to me. “Road Blasters” was also a nice change up from the overall tone of “Marble Desert.” It features reFX sounding guitar leads that remind me a little bit of Dance with the Dead. After spinning “Marble Desert” several times, I kept feeling like I was listening to early Perturbator a la “Nocturne City,” which is just fine by me. As a synthwave fanatic I eat this sort of thing up. And if you happen to be a hardcore purist of the genre, I suspect that you’ll love it too.
Overall, Retrodict has released a solid album. “Marble Deserts” has a modest run time, a clear production value, and an accessible sound that will be familiar to everyone who loves genuine Synthwave.
Protip: put this album on while you do your daily workout routine.
Stand-out tracks: Eyes on You (the best track imo), the title track “Marble Desert,” and “Road Blasters.”
RECOMMENDED FOR: Synthwave purists, retro-addicts, and children of the 1980s.
Album Color Profile: #311B92:
You can find all things Retrodict at https://retrodict.bandcamp.com/
The first time I heard of ZITH was way back at the end of 2018. A close friend of mine from St. Louis introduced me to a track entitled “Altered Flesh.” It took me by complete surprise. I was looking forward to hearing more. A little over half a year later ZITH dropped the bomb that is their first full length–“NATUS EX MACHINA.” The production quality of this album is top-tier. It’s crystal clear, tight, and knows exactly what it’s trying to accomplish. And then there’s the bass. ZITH is all about it.
There’s something that separates “NATUS EX MACHINA” from all of the other music in my current rotation–it’s transcendent and inoffensive. I think that this release will appeal to practically everybody who enjoys electronic music. At times ZITH’s first outing is extremely danceable, but not at the detriment of it’s overall aesthetic.
The bottom line? ZITH is one of those projects that isn’t easily classified by one genre of electronic music. Instead ZITH has taken a little bit of everything that the so-called greats have done over the past decade and created a fresh listening experience. So you like dark synth? ZITH is dark synth. Outrun? ZITH is outrun. EDM? ZITH is EDM. Dubstep? ZITH is dubstep.
It’s fairly clear to me that the mastermind behind ZITH is something of an audiophile, because “NATUS EX MACHINA” just begs to be played on a high-end audio system. I’m really looking forward to hearing more from ZITH in the future. I think there’s something really special here that deserves to be noticed.
RECOMMENDED FOR: People who love Dark Synth, Dubstep, Outrun/Synthwave, EDM.
Stand-out tracks: FALL APART (the best track on the album), ALTERED FLESH, OVERRIDE (evoking those Carpenter Brut TURBO KILLER feels), I AM YOUR FUTURE
Album Color Profile #CC00CC:
You can find all things ZITH at https://zith.bandcamp.com/