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Soundtrack review: The rise of the synths EP 2 (2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The rise of the synths EP 2 (2017)

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“The rise of the synths” is a travel in time towards the roots of a worldwide grass-root music scene known as Synthwave, an irresistible blend of modern electronic composition with 80s pop culture’s nostalgia, that over the last two years has transformed from a whisper on selected internet hubs, to an ever-growing scene, expanding rapidly as we speak. Accounting millions of plays on social media, devoted fans are legion, but nobody in the mass media knows about them. Thousands of synthwave composers around the world are living out double-lives. Away from their normal everyday life they spend another half-life behind a faceless musical avatar, creating and uploading their own renditions of 80’s-styled film scores, sharing them with the world – surging the wave. They belong to an endless army of watchers for the master’s legacy: the sound that Edgar Froese, Paul Haslinger, Giorgio Moroder and John Carpenter created in the late 70s. A time travel into the universe of creating sounds. A love letter to human fascination and the collective memories of a universe that never existed. This is a review of the second EP.

The album opens with a track called “Deckard returns” by Chrome Canyon (as you dive deeper into synthwave you will notice that you won’t find more awesome and inventive band names anywhere else) and this is a reference to one of the most iconic characters, movies and scores of the 80s, Harrison Ford’s character from “Blade runner”. The cue is a perfect homage to the movie, to the score and it manages to recapture that unique and unforgettable atmosphere, the vast spaces, the dream and the anthem like cinematic sound.

As the second track “Vale of shadows” from Gunship lands its seductive and addictive vibes around me I get the feeling that this second EP focuses more on my favourite part of the Synthwave world, the dreamy reflective part as opposed to the more violent first EP. “Vale of shadows” also has a vocal section that works so very well. What I love most about this music is how immersive it is, unlike anything else I could listen to, and it never fails to get me.

It’s nice to see Power Glove featured here with “Fatal affair”, as they are one of my favourite Synthwave bands and I am also familiar with them from the game music world, they had a couple of great scores for the “Blood dragon” games. The mood is quiet and enticing, endless and shinny and when I hear a track like this, an album like this, I fear for my film music reviewing momentum as I just want to run and and dive into hours and days of synthwave. It’s also nice to see Com Truise featured because this is one of my all time favourite band names. There’s also a track named “Black rain”, from Code Elektro and of course this makes me think of Hans Zimmer’s quintessential 80s synth score.

This two EP collection is, like I’ve said before, just the tip of an endless iceberg. I can’t wait to see the documentary and this is one occasion where I can’t say, hopeful and thirsty that I hope there will be more music like this because, guess what: there is, a whole lot more, and it keeps coming every day. Just look up Selorakt / LA dreams who are releasing like a new album every month. I love it that this genre is finally getting some recognition. Can’t wait to see the documentary.

Cue rating: 97 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 27 / 33

Album excellence: 83%

Highlights:
Deckard Returns (Chrome Canyon)
Vale Of Shadows (Gunship)
Fatal Affair (Power Glove)
Idle Withdrawl (Com Truise)
A Mission To Remember (Waveshaper)
Black Rain (Code Elektro)

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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