Lyssna: DDR Space Program – Race To Win

ddrspaceprogram

Ett uppiggande släpp, minst sagt. DDR Space Program från Stockholm levererar optimistisk och dansant retrowave, i och med det senaste släppet “Race To Win“. Det låter som något som skulle kunna vara ett reklamsläpp för Tour De France på åttiotalet. Allt handlar om fart och flärd, ‘var den förste i mål och ta hem vinsten’.

Uppsvinget som denna slags musik har fått på senare tid är intressant och kan reflekteras över, för vem kan egentligen ifrågasätta den framtidsoptimism som kännetecknade 80-talet? Hur väl passar den in i 2010-talet? Det känns väldigt främmande att denna tidsanda kunnat återuppstå, så det är magiskt hur väl den kunnat anpassas i musikform till hur vi lever nu. Trots att det ibland känns malplacerat, så lyckas DDR Space Program producera en ambitiös och närmast gudomlig ljudbild.

Det måste också tilläggas att en av de främsta influenserna är italo disco, kanske inte i sin renaste form, men i samklang med nyare electroclash – vilket gör det hela ett snäpp intressantare, eftersom att den genren i sig sällan är något att hänga i granen. Det här är vad han själv har att säga om släppet:

Race to win är DDR Space Programs andra släpp. Som vanligt är den inspelad i min hemmastudio på mina analoga syntar och sedan mixad ihop med min kompis i hans studio. Det är viktigt att för mig att använda riktiga syntar när jag spelar in. Det är en viss känsla i att sitta och ratta på riktiga grejer och så låter det oftast så mycket bättre.

EPn har ett cykeltema, vilket kanske märks. Mest för att jag själv börjat cykla väldigt mycket och tycker det är otroligt frigörande och kul, samtidigt som det på något sätt passar genren eftersom både spacesynth och cykling är snabbt och tufft. Från början var nog inte tanken att det skulle handla om just cykling, men när jag skrev “Le Tour” så kände jag att alla låtar passade in ett sådant sammanhang.

EPn har skrivits och spelats in parallellt med att jag skrivit låtar och spelat in med mitt andra projekt “Carino Cat” som är renodlad italo disco. Självklart tar jag ibland idéer från det ena projektet och lånar ut till det andra, vilket säkert gör att italoinfluenserna är ganska tydliga i DDR Space Program. Känslan jag vill få fram med DDR Space Program är att folk som lyssnar på det ska känna att det andas 80-tal. Tiden då gated reverb var norm, virveln var blaskig, syntarna var analoga och musiken var bäst.

Lyssna till släppet i sin helhet här nedanför. Man kan också köpa en CD-skiva för 50 kronor om man mejlar till ddr.space@gmail.com

Spotlight: Roladex – Anthems For The Micro​-​Age

roladex_press04

Two people participatory in retro-futurism. Texans, synth-poppers, VHS-lovers, retro-lovers – a lot in common. The granular imagery from the VHS gives off a mystic visual representation, maybe even a leery introduction for those whom almost have a fetish for technical progress. A current that has been actualized more and more when we entered the 2000’s, a shift that you might’ve noticed but didn’t care too much for. Tyler Jacobsen and Elyssa Dianne have a lot of things in common, their common denominator being; Roladex. It should be so more enticing then the name would ever suggest. Synth-pop with a retro-fantastic touch, infusing lovely melodies with the charming disco-vibes, quickly shifting focus into their lovely rhythm – moving into their minimalistic undertones. Equate that to their latest release “Anthems For The Micro-Age“, which was released on the 13th of February on Medical Records. Harnessing both the qualities of the long-lost, but now re-emerged – minimal synth of yesteryear. This release can also be seen as a compilation of tracks from earlier releases. If you hold a grudge against analog synth-pop, this is probably not the spot for you.

R-4630998-1370470580-3760

From 2013 to 2014, Roladex released their first single “Pink Halloween“, with remixes by Police Des Moeurs and Tiger Team being featured on it. The label back then was AMDISCS, and it was released in May of 2013. After that, a Mini-EP titled “Love Surgery EP” was born, featuring contributions from TSTI, Video Look, REDREDRED and Some Ember – released by the label Beko, in June. Then, the notable label Night People got it together and they got their first cassette put out there. The name of that cassette was to become “Cathode Rays“, whereas the name was taken from the first track on that release. Later on, in 2014, as it has been said – they got released by Medical Records, on vinyl. Which birthed the album, and rather compilation, of tracks that would come together under the title of “Anthems For The Micro-Age“. A lot of tracks that had been previously released were also featured here, but as new versions re-done for the release – like “Love Surgery” as A3, and “Scan Lines” as B4 – taken from their release “Love Surgery EP”. Whilst the track “Pink Halloween” appeared as B2, taken from their first single with the same name. The tracks from their cassette-release “Cathode Rays”, the track with the same name being represented as A2, also got featured on this compilation. “Blacklit Disco” is A4, “Empty Streets” is A5, and “Anthem For The Micro-Age” is A1 – and also the track that the album is named after.

a3585654399_10

With this, their latest release, only the tracks “Color Channels” on B1, “Single Cell City” on B3, and “Nuke It Out” on B5, could be considered to be new tracks. One could say that the release represents all they’ve done so far, but also how they’re looking into the future a little bit more. They know themselves that there’s a lot in store for them, and as this compilation becomes even more anthemic in both a semantic way – it also represents a slight bit of how anthemic their tracks also can be. This might be their current state, but take it for what it is, because they’re evolving. You will be satisfied with how they are, and you should take them as they are. A duo couldn’t be much more of a perfect match – in fact. If you want to support them, look for their earlier releases, but do also buy the limited edition vinyl-release from Medical Records – if you want a cross-section of what they sound like, and what they are. Buy it down below.

Spotlight [SP. ED]: A New Life / Soft Riot!

boom

Russia wouldn’t be my main vantage point if I think about retro-fantastic synth-pop and minimal synth. Obviously, Los Angeles have been in the headlights for far too long, even though they have some merits to withhold that certain degree of appreciation. However, it seems like the Russian label-boss have been at it, at least if you check out Other Voices Records, whom we’ve interviewed earlier on this blog. Taking influences both from legendary groups such as Human League, and specifically; Soft Cell – there’s a resurgence that simply can’t be ignored. We’ll see if any other label from that particular region of the world are up for the challenge, but it seems like they’re the number one contenders so far. To be noted, the artists themselves aren’t from this region, but the mastermind is the Russian label. In this special edition of Spotlight, I’ll guide you to the two gems “Fright †reasures” and “Your Own Private Underworld“. Courtesy of A New Life and Soft Riot, one Italian-based producer and one UK-based producer of synth-pop music, with the word “retro” in the mainline.

1481648355-1What can possibly be said about A New Life and his newly released cassette titled “Fright †reasures“? Firstly, it’s based off material that was recorded in 2011-2012, by the synth-pop producer Maurizio Pustianaz. Besides the obvious fact that it’s retro all over, there’s also the importance of analogue. Smearing our brains with a current of force, but at the same time also a sincere yearning for times that have past. The music itself strays from synth-pop, to minimal synth and he delves into the 80’s – with good intent. His abysmal fascination for that decade, is preceded by the apparent structure of the songs, whom in their natural state reveal much of the influences. But they are pretty unconventional – and are only matched, when it comes to superiority, by the fast-paced sections of synthesizer goodness. Some of the ambitious hints of melodic content, are sometimes not his strength when it comes to the music. The weird, showcased melodies in the choruses don’t intertwine in a good way, within the context that is intended – of the structured colossus that is his sound. Which at times actually can be turned in his favor, since the music itself relies on the ambitious notion and atmospheric experimentalism that is rarely seen within this decade. Sure, if you’re interested in Soft Cell, their experimentation seem to be a guideline for his music. But when it comes to the regular synth-pop, with 80’s vibes, this is not something for the faint of heart or primitive minds. No, this sounds like an intellectual approach to an otherwise pretty basic genre, at least if you gather up all your synth-pop belongings and heed to the overall quality. Catchy, it is and can be when he lets it form around the strengths that emit throughout the often heartbreaking lyrical content, but not to an extent that is in his favor. Since the vocals are 50/50, they’re just too much in some of the songs, but at the same time add up in the end – which makes this a case of how you’d like the lyricism to be. When he sings from his heart, the music itself is energized and should re-conquer the castle it needs to forcefully re-take. Otherwise, when it comes to the overall picture, it’s a picturesque cassette which needs to be listened to. At least if you compare it to the not-so-stiff competition out there.

1006979070-1As you listen to Soft Riot, which is a moniker for another UK-based producer, who goes by the name of JJD (Jack Duckworth) – there’s an instant appeal to your own monotonic glory. His single-based release “Your Own Private Underworld“, from his forthcoming cassette “Fiction Prediction“, is a fusion between the minimal synth landscape, of dark intentions morphed into a kind of shallow Miami synth-pop sound. There’s a glimmering haze around the general atmosphere of the song, along with almost atonal sounds with monotonic intentions. The contradictions that feed off this sound is astonishing. No cliches are being re-interpreted into the shrewd landscape of ludicrousness, angelic dismay and sincere synthesizers. If anything, this is simply a display of utter originality. Quenching the thirst for some post-punk, by squeezing some influences from that pathway – into an all-out electronic endeavor. At times, the vocals and the interchangeable nature of the music, reminds you all too much about the totally non-electronic band Lebanon Hanover. The kind of dry atmosphere of aridity is utilized as a kind of undertone, which is absurd when blended with the glamor in the overlying parts of the songs structures. It’s odd, but it’s actually one of the better blends of minimal synth, with irregular influences, that has a more static synth-pop ground to stand on – which in the end actually works. Since there’s only two songs, as this is a part of a forthcoming cassette, I am dismayed. Not because anything is bad about it, it’s just because there are only two songs so far – and I want him to get on with it and deliver the rest of them. The urge that simply walks into your brain and make your hands click on the mouse-button, just so you can hear the songs on repeat. Really great songs, original and unique in so many ways. This is a cassette that you simply have to listen to. You should wait until the forthcoming cassette and whole album “Fiction Prediction” comes out, but I urge you to buy the digital download of these two songs – right now!

Review: Xiu – Possession EP (C26)

1503951570-1Darker, meaner and even more out of touch with reality. In this virtual world, Xiu prevails as the strongest of the cast. Since her last effort on aufnahme + wiedergabe, she’s reached another step on the ladder. With the opening song “Leaving In The Night“, everything is tuned into the suggestive and otherworldly reach of human senses. Extending the period of wobbly arpeggios, dampened catharsis and almost spiritual tell-tale. The whispering voice of Oksana Rodinova is in a microcosm in itself, virtually shredding every other hope of a departure without an angst filled and apathetic sound. Bridging a gap between her cold wave and ethereal state of mind, with the minimal synth to synth-pop extravaganza. Coated with a layer of dark wave, jump-starting our synapse, pushing it into the floating spectrum between careful dementia and a brighter light of darkness.

Continue reading

TSTI releases his first musicvideo ever!

TSTI is the product of an analog experience. We’re the listeners to his sounds and now he’s premiered a music-video for his song “In Loving Memory“, from his album “Evaluations“. Highways and cars seems to be the method you choose, when you want to venture down memory lane. Listen to his crisp and retro-sounding bombastic synth, hints of darkwave, concrete industrial – but do also adhere to his sincere singing and overall energy. If you didn’t already know, TSTI is from Schenectady, New York and his real name is S. Smith. Remember, you can buy his album, either as vinyl or CD over at Desire Records. You can also listen to his album down below.