A lot has been said about the 80′s. Reagonomics, the first space shuttle, the first IBM PC, the Chernobyl disaster. But apart from it being the decade in which I happened to be spawned, I think I’ll mainly remember it for the horrible hairdos and clothes, and the new wave movement. While some people might argue new wave has never left, there definitely seems to be a resurgence of anything new wave in popular culture. How else could you justify the insane pomp that is Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon?
But let’s re-focus for a second. What was that synth-music doing in the background? There’s this thing called chillwave, a mashup between a love for ambient, 80′s new wave and some of the more modern sounds and production techniques. Now take that and put it on a steady diet of amphetamines and a healthy dose of retro, and you get a more energetic version called retrowave.
NewRetroWave’s ‘Equinox EP’ is a collection of songs by artists whose names sound like an alternate universe’s super villains and heroes: MK Ultra, Mega Corp, Kick Puncher, Sagittarius V, Orax. Just the names are enough to spontaneously grow a nasty little mustache and start sporting purple trainers.
The artists’ names actually give a decent preview of what the music sounds like: nothing which will ever be classified as fine art by any means, but a raw energy (definitely purple, by the way) which just plows straight through any objections one might have about the cheesy synths, the even cheesier synths on top of those and the drum beats which sound like they came from the same synthesizers.
‘Fears’ by Orax seems like it starts at the best part of the song. A crescendo arpeggio is soon joined by a synth line mangled through the best NI’s Guitar Rig has to offer. From there on out it’s just 4 more minutes of pure climaxing. Tell me this is not the ideal workout music.
And just when I thought there’s only a single thing missing to make this the quintessential nostalgia trip down retrowave lane, I stumbled on a hidden bonus track in the digital download. Beatbox Machinery’s ‘Cities of the Future’ (reworked by Camille R) continues the synthesizer madness but adds that much-needed sprinkle of terrible vocals. Break out the <add your favourite 80′s beverage here>, we have arrived.
The cover art is from the hands of Ariel Zucker. His art is a great fit for this release. I like the fact that the release package provides an uncoloured sketched version of the cover as well as some extra artwork. All are equally so-wrong-they-are-just-right.
People that have since shed their 80′s outfits might sometimes defend themselves by saying things like “You wouldn’t understand if you weren’t there. You had to live it to understand the moment.” This release is quite like that: there’s no possible reason I should like this at all. However, I just can’t stop listening. Once you listen past the individual elements you’ll get sucked into a world where lasers, cyborgs and complete world domination are yours for the taking. Ahem. If you’re into that sort of thing. Which I’m not. Nothing to see here. Move along.
MK Ultra – Tears In The Rain
Orax – Fears
This review was originally published on netlabelism.com, an online music magazine covering netlabel culture and releases. I was editor for the magazine from January 2011 until December 2014.