Siamese Youth is a Synthwave/Synthpop duo from Berlin, Germany featuring the talents of Mark Gritsenko (vocals) and Christoph ‘Hadl’ Hassel. Their debut album “Electric Dreams” came out in late 2019 via New Retro Wave Records. Upon release, “Electric Dreams” was unanimously embraced by the Synthwave community and for good reason. It is passionate, sentimental, and above all nostalgic.


Production-wise, Siamese Youth present a really beautiful, warm album that sounds authentic. That said, there is a slight postmodern edge to this record that helps it to stand out as an example of what happens when everything goes right. This is the result of what appears to be many careful post-production decisions. There isn’t a sound on “Electric Dreams” that I wasn’t able to hear in both headphones, on my stereo system, or on my phone’s speakers.

It’s glaringly clear that Siamese Youth, have a strong affection for the spirit of the 1980s. “Electric Dreams” bottles up that energy into thirty-four minutes of tear-jerking vibes. For the retro-enthusiast there’s so much to love about this release. The album opens up with a dreamy pad-leaden intro called “1984.” A woman’s voice begins to echo: “Dare to Dream, Dare to Believe, Love is the Essence of Life.” Shortly after, Gritsenko begins to sing through heavily processed, but nonetheless gorgeous vocals. This short prelude is but a preview of magical energy contained within “Electric Dreams.” From “Coco,” to “Nariyeh Thanei,” to “Lying to Myself,” there’s a lot of well-crafted, listenable songs that scream to be replayed over and over again. “Electric Dreams,” is incredibly pastiche, catchy, and romantic. I think that this album would’ve been a huge hit back in the 80s. It’s music like this that makes me feel lucky to be alive. Every song on this album is an absolute gem.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Anyone who wants to be instantly transported back to the 1980s.

Stand-out tracks: “Coco,” (the best track, I think I almost blew my speakers out listening to this one), “Lying to Myself” (aka the most 1980s song on the album), “Dream On,” and “Nariyeh Thanei.”

Album Color Profile: #F3E5F5

You can find all things Siamese Youth at https://newretrowave.bandcamp.com/

Kushna is a newer retrowave producer from India. 2020 has certainly been his year as he’s produced a slew of really catchy singles. In addition to this, he’s also released a full-length entitled “Retrodise.” It came out on June 2nd, 2020.

I’m going to come out and say that this is definitely an album that you shouldn’t judge by it’s cover. To me, the cover embraces some really common Synthwave tropes. We’ve all seen this type of thing frequently in the last few years, and for all intents and purposes I think that “Retrodise” would’ve benefited greatly from a different type of visual to accompany the music here.

Despite my personal issues with the cover artwork, I think that “Retrodise” is a wonderful album. I tend to think that it musically lies somewhere between proper darksynth and more soundtrack based Synthwave. There are a lot of really great ideas here that really tap into the exact type of moody epic vibe that brought me to love Synthwave as an artistic medium in the first place. The production value on “Retrodise” is really clear due to it being properly EQed and made tight with strategic conscious use of light (and sometimes sidechained) compression. I suspect that Kushna spent some time producing music in other genres as “Retrodise” has a modern EDM vibe. If I’m wrong about this, then he has a lot of natural talent for this type of thing. Regardless, “Retrodise” reminds me of a cross between 16-bit VGMs from the 1990s, Jan Hammer’s work on Miami Vice, with a slight raga flavor that makes it stand out amongst the hundreds of hours of Synthwave that I’ve subjected myself to so far this year.

I think that “Retrodise” opens up strong with the arpeggio leaden “Deep Love.” This song is spacey, futuristic, and catchy. It’s also is very neutral in terms of energy. It’s not particularly light or dark sounding, but it definitely has aspects from both sides of the spectrum. “Dream” further highlights Kushna’s talent for constructing great sounding arpeggios. Again, like “Deep Love,” “Dream” reaches Daft Punk levels of spacey with a pseudo-“TRON Legacy” vibe crossed with mid-nineties CD-ROM based VGMs. “Endless” was my favorite cut from “Retrodise.” The visuals that my brain created whilst listening to this song were akin to something you might see out of a moody Neo-noir film complete with streetlights sporadically shining across the face of a lonely night driver just looking to make something of his/her life. The acoustics of the woodwind pipe sound on “Endless” is absolutely beautiful and really unconventional.

Overall, “Retrodise” is a highly enjoyable listen. This release completely blindsided me, and it’s a goddamn shame that more people haven’t checked it out. If you have an affinity for well-crafted and thoughtful Synthwave with a digestable and slightly different vibe, please check out Kushna’s work. It’s one of my favorite albums this year.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Anyone that loves going for a long night drive along the coast on a hot Summer night.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Endless,” “Deep Love,” “Dream,” and “Beautiful.”

Album Color Profile: #FF1744

You can find all things Kushna at https://kushnamusic.bandcamp.com/

U.K. based Taurus 1984 is an ambitious retrowave collaboration between producers Alastair Jenkins and Bobby Cole. Their debut album, “Lost in Time” was released in 2018. Their follow-up entitled “Dream Warriors” was released via Outland Recordings on May 29th, 2020.

“Dream Warriors” by Taurus 1984 is an album that I’ve had a weird relationship with since I became aware of it way back in May. As a child of the 1980s I instantly related the word combination “Dream Warriors” to Dokken. The first time I saw this album I honestly thought that Taurus 1984 named their album after “Dream Warriors” because they made a banging synthwave cover of Dokken’s “Dream Warriors.” I was totally wrong about this. My brain expected hair metal, but Taurus 1984 delivered something that couldn’t have been farther from that expectation. In comparison to their summery debut “Lost in Time,” “Dream Warriors” is a drastically different album. Where “Lost in Time” has a more traditional Synthwave sound, “Dream Warriors” is cut from a different brand of 1980s based music. What’s important to note, is that to the unprepared ear I think that “Dream Warriors” has the potential to be largely misunderstood.

To fully understand where “Dream Warriors” is coming from I think it’s important to look at why it’s so different than the wide majority of Synthwave.

  1. It’s music driven primarily by vocals.
  2. Whereas traditional Synthwave embraces disco-italia, 1980s dance, and film soundtracks “Dream Warriors” leans more into electro-funk.

At the onset, “Dream Warriors” gives off an inspirational, albeit soulful vibe that is spiritually reminiscent of inner city post-disco electro-funk from the early 1980s. Groups such as The S.O.S. Band, George Clinton’s P-Funk, and Sinnamon helped to pioneer this sound. Taurus 1984 pays homage to this while simultaneously combining it with traditional Synthwave. The result is an interesting experiment that serves to illustrate why fabricated nostalgic vibes work only up to the point. Where post-disco was developed out of the combined experiences of many musicians working together, Taurus 1984 is borrowing from those experiences under an entirely different framework. This isn’t the first time that this has happened. Most notably, the first well-received instance of this type of thing can be seen in 1965 with the release of The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul.” That album introduced the world to the idea of “plastic soul” which was perfected by David Bowie nine years later with the release of “Young Americans.” As I currently understand it, the foundations of Synthwave lie in fabricating authentic nostalgia via a parallel time line that doesn’t exist. And while “Dream Warriors” certainly has a little bit of this, by leaning so heavily into electro-funk it occasionally falls short as an incomplete thought. This is primarily because the type of sound that Taurus 1984 is exploring here would’ve been socially inaccessible to them in the early 1980s. That said, I have to commend Taurus 1984 for having the courage to push their limits by experimenting in this way. Combining the intimate individual nostalgic feel of traditional postmodern Synthwave with community driven post-disco electro funk isn’t exactly easy.

Taurus 1984 really shine on “Dream Warriors” when they allow themselves room to fully shift away from Synthwave and just write music that comfortably lends itself to tools they had available for this album. “Ghosts” is wholly indicative of this by channeling an in-precise Queen vibe that serves as one of the album’s high points. Just looking at how many people were involved with “Dream Warriors” I have to say that I admire the fact that Taurus 1984 was able to fit so many small details into this album—particularly when it comes to how the vocals were mixed. For instance, on “Home” there is a short male vocal burst that adds a pad like presence to the mix that greatly accentuates the Abi Davis’s vocal performance. This type of thing is repeated often on “Dream Warriors,” even if it comes off in the mix as mildly subliminal. My favorite track off of “Dream Warriors” is, by far, “Situations.” I think that out of all the songs produced here this was the one that was closest to that electro-funk vibe that Taurus 1984 tries so hard to reach at other points in the album. “Situations” really speaks for everything that Taurus 1984 is capable of. It would’ve been, at least to me, a much more fitting choice for the lead single here than the title track.

Overall, I don’t think that this album will appeal to everybody. It occasionally makes weird artistic decisions that waffles between a forced summer synthwave vibe and a plastic electro-funk vibe that could’ve worked better if there were a greater emphasis on the community aspect of this album. Actual live drums and a more spacious mix would’ve greatly impacted the overall effectiveness of this album as well. That said, I did enjoy “Dream Warriors,” but it wasn’t easy to get into. I do truly believe that if Taurus 1984 continues to stay creative in this way that they absolutely will create something truly groundbreaking in the future.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Retrowave fans looking for an album that bridges the gap between electro-funk and instrumental Synthwave.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Situations,” (amazing track), “Ghosts,” “Home”

Album Color Profile: #FF3300

You can find all things Taurus 1984 at https://taurus1984.bandcamp.com/

Wraithwalker is a darksynth producer from Atlanta, Georgia. He’s been around in the scene since 2018, and has produced several LPs/EPs. He recently has released two mini-albums within the last month, “Preludium,” and “Visions.” I will be reviewing the latter.

The cover artwork for “Visions” reminds me of the variant cover for Hecate Enthroned‘s “Upon Promethean Shores (Unscriptured Waters).” The color scheme is much the same prominently featuring one of my favorite colors—a harsh, almost neon violet. The image itself reminds me of Carpathian Forest‘s “Through Chasm, Caves and Titan Woods.” For this type of music I think that Wraithwalker’s logo leans a little too heavily on a black metal sort of aesthetic, but I think that’s what he’s going for. It is a unique stylistic decision to couple this type of primeval vibe with music that normally would be associated with futuristic themes.

“Visions” sounds extremely European despite the fact that Wraithwalker resides in Atlanta. There is this odd little energy about this release that I can’t quite put my finger on. In one sense, it’s sounds like early eighties Disco Italia, but it also doesn’t. I think that there’s a TON of postpunk/coldwave/minimal synth influence going on here. As to whether or not that’s Wraithwalker’s conscious decision, I’m not so sure. There are also shades of early 90s à la Love is Colder Than Death from their “Teignmouth” period mixed with early 2000s gothic EDM—think Apoptygma Berzerk. For postmodern darksynth, it certainly feels eclectic, mysterious, bleak, and somewhat inaccessible. Of course, I mean that in the very best way possible.

“Blood Moon” stands out to me because it is the most upbeat track on “Visions.” I love the muddy bass pulse that the song is rooted in. Despite how energetic the percussion is here, there’s a lot of dark ambiance to this track. It really makes me feel like I’ve been left alone in a cold wilderness without any hope of survival. For such a red sounding song, it certainly takes on the foggy vibe of something that sounds dark and purple. “Scythia” and “Raven” are the most postpunk songs of the bunch. Visually, “Scythia” is greatly enhanced by the telephone-EQ put onto the sparse, but seemingly distant vocals here. To be honest, this track gives me the willies. It’s fucking nasty in a postwar prison labor camp sort of way. This is not for the faint of heart. My favorite track on the album is “Resurrection.” It has a compelling lead synth that makes me want to put some black lipstick on and hit the dance floor. This is contrasted by a lighthearted, albeit synthwavy breakdown/bridge at around 2:50 that comes completely out of nowhere. I love when producers do this sort of thing. “Plague” leans a little too heavily on the Blade Runner end theme vibe for my tastes by transposing the root of the song’s driving arpeggio down from C to an F minor scale. I do like it, but a lot of darksynth producers love going into that Vangelis space. The Spotify release of “Visions” includes a really cool remix of the opening track “Raven” while the Bandcamp release includes a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest.” I much preferred the “Raven” remix primarily because “A Forest” has been covered to DEATH. That said, both bonus tracks are great, and even though I’m not a fan of “A Forest” I think that a lot of people who come across this release will enjoy the hell out of it.

Overall, I fucking like this mini-album. “Visions” does a lot right in such a short time. It’s not overly produced, which works to its advantage as it’s a very visual EP. And while it certainly does have a darksynth vibe to it, I think it’s more darksynth adjacent. It channels a lot of energy that greatly differs in approach from other artists in the scene. If you’re in the market for something different and are in the mood for a little nastiness, check “Visions” out.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Darksynth and Horrorsynth adherents who want to step further into the dark wilderness of the human soul.

Stand-out tracks: “Raven,” “Scythia,” “Blood Moon,” and “Resurrection.”

Album Color Profile: #9C27B0

You can find all things Wraithwalker at https://wraithwalker.bandcamp.com/

Gab Manette is a Synthwave producer from Montreal. He’s been releasing retro sounding tunes for a couple of years now. Last year he released a really good little EP called “Dream Dimension.” His follow up is a mini-album entitled “Making Waves.” It was released on May 29th, 2020.

On the cover is a very dapper looking Gab who looks proud of the good work he’s done on “Making Waves.” The aesthetic is sort of like a mash-up between A-Ha’s “Take on Me,” “Sixteen Candles,” and Bert Schnick from “Shock Treatment.” It’s quite a cool looking image, and I think it accurately captures the laid back vibe of this release.

After spinning “Making Waves” at least a dozen times there was one thing that caught my attention: this is extremely calming music. I spent a few afternoons doing my daily workout whilst listening to this and found myself losing track of time. “Making Waves” really got me into the zone, giving me something to look forward to everyday. I found it very difficult to get distracted while listening to this. I’m not entirely sure what this is a function of—but “Making Waves” feels magical. I’m frequently tense, and this album helped me to relax and destress all of the needless tension in my body in some kind of hypnotic exhalation.

Gab’s track “Unwind” is pretty much the quintessential high point of his musical/engineering genius due to how textured it is. There’s a certain sparkle to this track that’s really happening. The drums, while low key, sit comfortably in the mix amidst bright flourishes in a percussive dance of structure. The pan pipes are the best part here as they are masterfully interwoven into the mix of the track’s momentum. “Prom Night” is the most romantic song on “Making Waves” and is slow paced enough that I found it to be a great song to cooldown to after an hour of cardio. Although short, “Talk Show” is probably my favorite cut from the album. It’s super 1990s sounding. This is primarily due to how the percussion and horn sections on this track are arranged. I don’t think it would be out of place on the original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” live action movie’s soundtrack. Other highlights include the Rocky-esque “Judge Reinhold” named after the actor of the same name, and “Portfolio” which reminds me of the type of innocuous, fun toybox music my kindergarten teacher would throw on during “class” way back in 1989.

Overall, “Making Waves” is a short, digestible, nostalgic trip. It’s not so nostalgic that you’re going to be brought to tears. This is the type of nostalgia that’s captures mostly positive vibes albeit in a somewhat romantic pseudo-melodramatic way. There’s a lot of color to “Making Waves” on the production side of things that make it a fascinating listen. This will appeal to both Synthwave neophytes and veterans alike. Please check it out.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Chillwave, Synthwave, and 80s vibes.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Talk Show,” “Judge Reinhold,” “Unwind,” and “Prom Night.”

Album Color Profile: #IDE9B6

You can find all things Gab Manette at https://gabmanette.bandcamp.com/

YORU 夜 is the project of producer Jen Foo from Shah Alam, Malaysia. On Friday, June 19th, 2020 they released “Revisit” which, for all intents and purposes, sounds like it could be the last Synthwave album. I don’t say this lightly. It’s not often that I come across an album that makes me laugh, cry, and feel like I better live my best life today because tomorrow might never come. In so many words, “Revisit” feels like a long goodbye to a close friend who you’ll never see again.

Synthwave is going through an “end-of-life” transitional period right now. This is something that always happens to every genre of music. There’s just something inherently human inside all of us that desperately wants to experience change. It’s during these “end-of-life” transitional periods that something beautiful happens—we get one last look at the things that captured our hearts and imaginations. “Revisit” represents everything that makes the Synthwave genre a wonderful expression of human experience.

From the outside looking in, the Synthwave community doesn’t exactly feel as enthusiastic as it did a several years ago. There isn’t a day that goes by when a new “solo” artist shows up onto the scene ready to rehash and mimic every mode of artistic innovation that made the genre what it is today. One of the reasons might be because people want to be part of something bigger than themselves. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with this. In fact, I think that it’s beautiful that someone can come forward into a very accepting, inclusive community (like Synthwave) and share a little part of themselves. That takes a lot of courage. That said, humans are weird. We look at successful artists and trick ourselves into believing we can do the same thing. This isn’t exactly wrong—everybody is capable of producing art. The problem arises when we begin to believe that we somehow own the art we create. What YORU 夜 has done with “Revisit” is antithetical to the belief that we own the art that we create. I say this because the artistic foundation of “Revisit” lies not only in the work of YORU 夜 alone, but in what it means to selflessly collaborate with other artists as friends.

Production-wise “Revisit” is emotionally authentic and carefully defined Synthwave. As far as I’m concerned, every song on this album was produced in the 1980s. This becomes even more impressive to think about when you consider how many artists contributed to this album (over great geographical distances I might add). Harnessing a perfect 80s aesthetic when you have to accommodate for differences in production techniques is absolutely impressive. And yet somehow Jen Foo is able to maintain exacting focus by lovingly blending these outside contributions with the rest of their vision for “Revisit.”

My favorite moments on “Revisit” occur when the album gets a little more quiet and a lot more emotional. “Way Back Home (feat. Del-Anov)” is the album’s high point. It sounds like the end theme of an old 80s romance flick—you know the scene, when the boy finally gets the girl after a long, hard journey. “Dreams (feat. Vosto) also has the same kind of feeling, though it’s slightly more enigmatic and wholly instrumental. Overall, I think that “Pool Party” is going to be the sleeper hit from this album. Swayze’s phenomenal vocal performance is both energetic and fun while Dimi Kaye lifts the song into the stratosphere with his brilliant guitar work. The lyrics, while silly, accurately encapsulates everything Synthwave is about: being carefree and young. Additionally, I find that the opening lyrics to “Pool Party” are equally important as to the argument as to why “Revisit” could be considered the last Synthwave album:

“It’s almost Friday the last day of school before Summer vacation. Stacy’s annual summer pool party is in less than a week and everyone is invited. Tommy knows that this party can make or break him, and it’s time for a fresh start. It’s time to get in shape.”

What Swayze is expressing here is a glimpse of what we all feel in the last days of our childhood. We all want to be sexy, desirable, wanted, and loved. For most of us though that isn’t reality. And truth be told—reality can hurt. “Revisit” expresses these same feelings towards Synthwave’s coming of age. Synthwave still has some time left, but it might be time for a proper reboot. As to how that should be achieved, the scene needs to revisit its roots, redetermine what it’s become, and get in shape. It’s not enough anymore to make a simple bare bones instrumental Synthwave album emulating the style of Jan Hammer and call it a day. Synthwave has grown up. Therefore producers in the scene must also grow up and begin to put themselves, entirely, into their work. Growth is the only escape, and YORU 夜 recognizes this.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Anyone who wants to experience peak Synthwave feels. This is an important album for the scene. Do not pass this one up.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Way Back Home (feat. Del-Anov),” “Pool Party (feat. Dimi Kaye & Swayze),” Stars (feat. GeoVoc),” “Dreams” (feat. Vosto)

Album Color Profile: #FFCC66

You can find all things YORU 夜 at https://yorusynthwave.bandcamp.com/

Victor Roy is an electronic music producer from Barcelona, Spain. He made his debut in 2019 with his debut album “Failure to Discern.” His follow-up “Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost” was released in February by RetroSynth Records.

The concept behind “Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost” encapsulates precisely why Synthwave and its related genres have taken off in popularity. The 1980s/early 90s were strange in that, science fiction films, gave us a hyperbolic glimpse into (an aesthetically pleasing) future. For example, Blade Runner takes place in 2019. When we look back at Blade Runner from a 2020 perspective it really makes you wonder…how did anyone ever think that by 2019 we would’ve been to the Tanhauser Gate, had another world war, and be surrounded by sexy replicants? Synthwave basically takes our own history and throws it out in favor of false realities and experiences that have never existed. It’s pretty weird that the human mind can trick us into becoming nostalgic for a 1980s version of what 2019 should’ve/could’ve been. Victor Roy’s “Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost” leans into the concept heavily, at least contextually, as the tent-pole unto which his latest album is supported by.

After listening to “Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost,” I think that it really does a great job exploring the concept in which it was based. At the same time, it sounds like an album written in 2019 that reveres the 1980s version of 2019. If that sounds confusing don’t feel bad. This album is extremely meta and self-referential. Generally speaking, I think that if this album was released as in the 1980s, it would’ve been a big deal. It probably also would’ve been used for a movie soundtrack. As a music critic, I feel that this is an important milestone to hit, especially for a Synthwave adjacent artist.

“Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost” has a very polished shiny postmodern vibe. A lot of careful thought went into this album production wise which makes it an enjoyable listen. Despite the fact that this album has a very soundtrack leaden vibe, I don’t think that it has much else in common with Synthwave, Darksynth, or other Retro genres. I actually feel that this album transcends all of these genres, but not necessarily for the better—at least from the perspective of a hardcore Synthwave fan. That said, this album is not for those folks. This is music for people looking to be challenged by music that pushes beyond the limits of Synthwave. Sure, there are plenty of Vangelis sounding moments on “Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost” but it captures those moments without breakneck sidechained vaccum basses, sixteenth note clapping, or a pumping drum beat. “Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost” is music that puts an emphasis on exploring Cyberpunky music through melodies rather than beats.

“Rewind” serves as the album’s most retro sounding song thanks to it’s opening riff, but it also (thankfully) diverges from that sound as the song goes on. “Path to Glory” stands out as the most soundtrack worthy song by giving those Interstellar Hans Zimmer feels. Peak Victor Roy is reached in the latter half of the album with two songs: “Stage Two” and “Dungeon of the Mind.” “Stage Two” reminds me of Yuzo Koshiro’s work on the PC Engine CD port of Ys I & II. The song begins quietly, but masterfully works its way upward into a diminished key change that really pops. “Stage Two’s” melody is completely antithetical to the vibe that the song opened with—it’s seriously wonderful. “Dungeon of the Mind” is equally as awe-inspiring for the same reason. It evokes some very Michiru Yamane (Castlevania) energy that really made me want an entire album of similar music. Here’s hoping that on the Roy decides to fully explore similar on his next album, because video game sounding tunes seem to be his strong suit.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this album. As mentioned before, if you’re looking for Synthwave that’ll give you nostalgic vibes you probably should look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a well-produced challenge that represents a direction that Synthwave might be going in the near future, have a listen. This one might surprise you.

RECCOMENDED FOR: People who like melody driven science fiction/cyberpunk music.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Stage Two,” (so fucking good), “Dungeon of the Mind” (so fucking good part 2 the revenge), “Path to Glory,” “Rewind,” “Synthesized Hole.”

Album Color Profile: #633974

You can find all things Victor Roy at https://victorroy.bandcamp.com/

Miles Matrix (aka Misha Verollet) is a retro producer from Vienna, Austria. Since 2018 he has explored the far edges of what it means to create authentic retro vibes by fusing together synthwave, chillwave, and vaporwave. His latest release “French Riviera” fully embodies something from each of these genres.

On the cover is a giant neon wave framed by yellow 1980s style abstract art. As I close my eyes to think about it, this image is oddly welcoming and warm. It reminds me of summery sunsets, sand between my toes, and the smell of sunscreen. I was born in Okinawa in the eighties, so as you can imagine I spent a good deal of my time growing up on the beach. Ah…memories.

“French Riviera” is the kind of music that is best experienced with a cocktail in one hand, the wind in your face, and the lights dimmed. There’s a certain romantic feel to this music that makes me want to cuddle up with my significant other and just talk about how things used to be. Generally, “French Riviera” is Matrix’s least synthwavy release, as he decides to fully lean in on his chillwave roots. I think that this is a very good decision as he has created a divergent album within his body of work.

Production wise “French Riviera” almost sounds like vaporwave. I say this because the album is very minimal in terms of how many elements of music are occurring at once. This isn’t a release that creates a wall of sound with synths. Instead it uses sparse minimalism unto which Matrix fully explores each sound in his music carefully. “French Riviera” is simultaneously both wet and dry…much like a beach. Mr. Matrix makes some really good decisions with the subtle use of reverb—which he uses to create a dreamy illusion that makes you feel like you’re underwater somewhere in the Côte d’Azur itself.

While the percussion in “French Riviera” often blends into the background, Matrix gives vibrant character to his drums when it’s essential. This is accomplished via liberal use of Roland CR-8000 samples. There’s nothing quite like a CR-8000 cowbell, and his track “Waves” puts it front and center. Personally speaking, I prefer the tone of the TR-707 or LM-1 bank of sounds myself, but I think that the lightness of the CR-8000 contextually fits really well within the overarching concept of what Matrix is doing here.

Overall, “French Riviera” is a fantastic dreamy voyage. This is a wonderful summer release, and well worth your time. It has a lot of replay value and it authentically helped to calm my nerves today. It’s been a tough week so far but Miles was there with his calming vibes to help me get through. Please check this one out!

RECOMMENDED FOR: Folks who want to chillout, zone out, and close their eyes. If you’re looking for a summertime escape, “French Riviera” is the ticket.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Cloudburst” (what a vibe), “Last Days of Summer” (the best track on the album), “Waves,” “French Riviera,” “Palm Trees & Calm Seas.” (love the horns on this track).

Album Color Profile: #F1C40F

You can find everything Miles Matrix at https://milesmatrix.bandcamp.com/

Cat Temper is a Synthwave project by producer Mike Langlie from Boston, Massachusetts (GO BRUINS!!!). He’s been involved with various music scenes over the years ranging from the gothic and heavy, to the strange and unusual. His most well-known project, Twink the Toy Piano Band features music that uses toy instruments to create soundtracks for a cartoon from another more—pink dimension. Anyway, Langlie’s muse has changed over the last few years. His focus has shifted from a project who’s main aesthetic featured a cute bunny rabbit to darker project featuring the often domesticated apex predator—cats.

Cat Temper’s latest album “Feralyzed” returns with a solid tracklist of catchy, aptly titled cat tunes such as “Ace of Spays,” “Big Kitty Nights,” and “Careless Whisker.” Featuring the visual stylings by the wonderful Quinnzel Kills, the cover features a cat-woman with a perm amidst a neon-infused color scheme that comes straight out of the 1980s.

“Feralyzed” is entirely instrumental, and while it has a slight synthwave flavor to it, I feel that it can also exist on it’s own two legs without pinning it down to one genre of electronic music. “Feralyzed” is like listening to music that would be in an 80s action movie, rather than something you would hear at the end of “The Breakfast Club.” This idea really shines through in “Ace of Spays” balancing a breathy high end with banging drums and a distinctive heavy bass tone that just yells Amir Shervan and Alan DerMarderosian. At times the album is upbeat and whimsical in an Oingo Boingo sort of way (”Baskitt Case” serves as a good example) but for the most part “Feralyzed” is oddly harsh, dark, and heavy. There are spacey driven textures in songs like “Careless Whisker,” “The Unfurgiven,” and “Bad Cattitude.” There are also quite a few ties to traditional EDM rhythms that stand out in tracks like “When Puss Comes to Shove.” It’s pretty clear to me that Langlie is on the precipice of evolving Cat Temper’s sound. Into what exactly, I’m not entirely sure. But if it sounds anything like the tone he was going for with “The Unfurgiven” it’ll be interesting to see where he takes it. Overall, “Feralyzed” is a logical continuation to Cat Temper’s “Something Whiskered this Way Comes” (2019). I’ve spun it a dozen times since its release. My cats really seem to like it too.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Synth-warriors of all makes and models and their fuzzy feline companions.

Stand-out tracks: “The Unfurgiven,” “Baskitt Case” (aka the best track on the album), “Ace of Spays,” “Bad Cattitude,” and “Careless Whisker”

Album Color Profile: #6C3483

You can find all things Cat Temper at https://cattemper.bandcamp.com/

Alex Vecchietti is a synthwave producer from Palermo, Italy. He is also a co-founder of RetroReverbRecords which features a rather eclectic mix of synthwave/darksynth artists. In a word, the man is BUSY. It’s no easy task to help manage a record label, maintain a presence on social media, and produce music. Somehow though he still pulls it off.

“The Good Fight” is Mr. Vecchietti’s debut album and came out in late January after the release of two singles, the first being “Child” in November 2019, followed by “Mystery of Faith.” Production wise, the album is quite listenable. I think a lot of care was made in the mixing process to make the album accessible to everyone. The song structures here are solid too, and follow the basic intro, verse, prechorus, chorus strategy that really works for this kind of music. The thing I like the most about the production quality here is that there’s never more than four or five different elements of music going on at once. This provides a fair amount of clarity which trades atmosphere found in traditional 1980s styled synthwave releases for a concise and modern sound.

Mix wise there’s a lot of good use of stereo panning that gives “The Good Fight” just enough space to make it feel three dimensional. Alex tends to prefer mixing his guitars or pads offset (roughly 80%) to the left or right while keeping the kick and snare centered with the low end. Speaking of which, I quite like the low end on “The Good Fight.” It is very similar to something you might find on a darksynth album. I think that this album was EQed to highlight the lows in an effort to allow Alex’s double tracked (or ADTed) vocals to clearly cut through the mix. My only real complaint with the mix lies in the lack sibilance and transients in Alex’s voice. They are EQed, compressed and/or cut REALLY hard in the 7kHz-9kHz range. This takes some of the energy away from his performance, and is distracting to me at times. That said, I think that his vocals are still enjoyable thanks to a hefty amount of reverb being sent back into the mix. Generally though, working with double tracked vocals can be difficult, especially with tenors like Alex, so I understand why the vocals were handled in this way.

Lyrically, I do have to note that this is definitely not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. Many of the songs on this album lean very heavily on a Christian/devotional theme. That said, I think that it works for what Alex is doing on “The Good Fight.” He’s certainly passionate about what he’s doing. It’s just a matter of whether or not this type of thing appeals to you. Personally speaking, I am definitely NOT the target audience for this type of music, but I think there are people out there who will really enjoy this.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who like well-produced modern Synthwave and Christian devotional music combined together.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Live the Light” (this is the catchiest song on the album), Neon Town (feat. Kumiko25),” “Falling into Eternity.”

Album Color Profile: #FF1744

You can find everything Alex Vecchietti at https://alexvecchietti.bandcamp.com/