Dreams West, one of our favorite VHS-wave artists, partnered up with fellow retro synth act Lust last summer to birth a limited edition collaborative cassette tape entitled 12:56. While the collection is essentially a split EP with a couple of remixes that nobody really needs to have in their life immediately, the closing track that’s credited to the twosome is an absolute stunner. “Driving Pleasures” showcases the seedy darkness of Lust’s synthwave exploits while also clearly referencing Dreams West’s Balearic inclinations. What begins with a couple of clean piano stabs progressively devolves into an onslaught of each artist’s finer talents, building in intensity and synchronization until the wall of sound towers bombastically over the listener. Gritty synth rhythm tracks duel with digital tropicalia until both acts quickly reach their respective limits, burning the entire island down in three minutes flat. 12:56 is great for the die-hard follower of either Lust or Dreams West, but we highly, highly recommend the outro track. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download of “Driving Pleasures”, by Lust & Dreams West below, and then peruse each artist’s discography for more good tunes afterwards. You know we won’t pass up the opportunity to put in a solid plug for Dreams West’s </3.
Future Unlimited, despite their limited discography, can really bring on the 80’s new wave vibe. With singles like “Golden” and “Lightweight Eyes”, the Nashville duo has proven that they have the songwriting chops and mastery over their instruments to stand alongside retro hi-fi futurists like Crozet, M83, and Mirror Kisses. With “Calling (Intro)”, we get to vicariously experience the opening moments of a live Future Unlimited experience with an epic, foreboding instrumental piece that sets the cold, melodramatic mood for a John Hughes-esque 80’splosion. The restraint between the lines of icy rhythm and lead synth tracks is underscored as the jam progresses with the addition of a telltale bassline. Considering the scope and expanse of the overly emotional teenage dreams of that highly missed era, it’s only fitting that Future Unlimited’s unofficial live intro piece be packed to the gills with pathos. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download of “Calling (Intro)”, by Future Unlimited. If you like what you hear, be sure to check out the aforementioned singles, what we imagine are the tunes that come immediately after today’s featured track on the set list. Then cry yourself to sleep, because these fellows will never play in your town.
This year-old synthwave jam by Bobby Tank is the stuff of Osamu Tezuka’s hyperactive dreams. While we’re often satisfied with nothing more than a faint whiff of that retro vibe, occasionally something is released that is so epic in scope and so all-encompassing in tone that it will probably never leave the rotation. Occasionally, such a monolithic masterpiece may even become the new go-to jam for an entire genre. The hi-fi action-packed neo-funk strain of today’s synthwave scene dominated by acts like Futurecop! could do to welcome another big player, and we believe that Bobby Tank is that contender. Musically trained and boasting affiliation with acts such as Rustie and Hudson Mohawke, Bobby Tank keeps it light and crisp in “Face of Love” with sharp, clean cut waves of synth and reverb-soaked vintage percussion. Additionally, the sass and soul of the reoccurring refrain coupled with the never ending energy really ranks “Face of Love” among the most fist-pumpingly definitive products of today’s modernized take on yesterday’s vibes. If you’re nearly finished with lazily sampled two-minute vaporwave slices of drudgery, or if you’re searching for something that’s iconic amongst all of the experimental electronic clusterfuckery, then you need this. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download of Bobby Tank’s “Face of Love” immediately, and then do humanity a favor and check out the rest of his work. We really really really want it all to be as good as this track.
Heeeeey, lookey there. The same guy who posted the video rip of Lapti’s “Don’t U Know?” is the only guy that currently has a video of Com Truise’s latest B-side. I have a feeling we should probably download everything we see on Distapez’s Youtube channel. Either way, though, the internet’s hottest bringer of retro vibes has a new unreleased jam out, “WIP (‘13)”, which most likely refers to the Soho location at which he played yesterday, but may or may not also stand for an actual work in progress. I think we can rule out “women-in-prison” or “wank in public”, so hopefully the naming also subtly indicates the opening throes of a brand new synthwave-meets-downtempo release for Seth Haley (Com Truise). In the featured tune, slow, lighthearted, reverberating synth notes in the vein of “Cathode Girls” build gradually into Com Truise’s trademark arcade room flurry of pixelated mid-fi SFX. Halfway through, after a short refractory period, a laser-etched bassline battles through an asteroid belt of monolithic electronics as the transmission gradually fades up and out. Do tha right thing, and get a taste of “WIP (‘13)”, Mr. Truise’s latest public offering below the jump. Be sure to acquaint yourself with the rest of his portfolio thereafter, if you haven’t already. His latest release, In Decay, was easily one of our favorite full-lengths of 2012, so getcha some!
At Tiananmen Square Dance, we’re always sure to cite our sources, and we’d just like to let you know that if you haven’t already checked out DjemUK’s 80’s Dreamz mix at his Soundcloud page, then you need to get after it now. The featured Vanguard jam, along with several other VHS-wave tunes are all there, compiled for your convenience, and many of them are even free downloads. The organic electronic vibe in “Echohunter” starts slowly with a cascading ambient digital rain, building both in volume and intensity, reaching an absolutely supernatural high shortly after the one-minute mark. Sonorous vocal samples precede the meat of “Echohunter”, as if an annunciation of the glory to come. A bassline straight out of an early 80’s wet boogie dream underlies the reprise of some of the most truly triumphant vocals we have ever had the pleasure of hearing, and a lo-fi found monologue walks us back and out abruptly after the track is chopped and screwed into computerized oblivion. Boasting a prominent sample of Alexander O’Neal’s 1986 R&B hit “If You Were Here Tonight”, the song is perfect for fans of the earthy downtempo of Tycho, the dark witch house of Friendzone, or any particularly bouncy vintage synthwave jam by the likes of Lapti or Capo Blanco. Do tha right thing, and check out Vanguard’s “Echohunter” after the bump, and you can even download the free EP on which it is featured here, if you so desire. Of course, we also recommend you check out DjemUK’s 80’s Dreamz playlist too. There’s some truly good shit there.
The music of Miami Vice perfectly encapsulates that smooth 80’s vibe that we know and love, reserved only for the upper echelon of society. While he’ll never be able to top Jan Hammer’s original compositions for the titular TV series, the vaporwave artist will nonetheless regale us into infinity with his retro DOS-based re-imaginings of that golden age. “Yacht”, our favorite track from newly released Smooth Nights, ambles along haphazardly, like a fun drunk. Reminiscent of an 18 Carat Affair vignette, it’s akin to a really shitty ghettoblaster recording of that snapshot moment in your favorite tune that really gets your heart pumping. The pastel-colored retro synth tracks trip all over the bassline and reverb-soaked percussion in what amounts to the “ringtone worthy” section of some lost one-hit wonder. Miami Vice manages in the space of only a minute-and-a-half to remind us with “Yacht” what we dearly miss about the garish elitist capitalistic excess of the decade to end all decades. Do tha right thing, and grab a free download of Miami Vice’s Smooth Nights right this second, at least to have “Yacht” available at your beck and call for that next house party. We also highly recommend his previous release, Culture Island, if you like that airless, perfectly benign corporatist tone.
After hearing Heathered Pearls’ hypnotic avión remix of Diana’s “Born Again”, we were curious about the quality of last Summer’s original composition. Quite frankly, we’re fast fans. You know how smooth and dreamlike School of Seven Bells’ jams used to be? Then one of the sisters quit, they got signed on to Vagrant Records, and now their sound is mediocre at best. With “Born Again”, that lucid dreaming Balearic vibe is present in full force, and it sounds a bit like what we imagine School of Seven Bells would resemble today if they hadn’t gone to shit. A churning, bubbling layer of synth sounds underscore a selection of retro basslines, analog synth tracks, and exotic samples. In “Born Again”, that smooth late 80’s mood music style that comprises the lion’s share of VHS-wave tunes is the backing instrumentation for a sensible, radio-friendly chillwave song with strong, clear female vocals. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download of the Toronto foursome’s experimental pop hit “Born Again” below, and then check out Heathered Pearls’ powerful ambient rework afterwards.
Record label Astro Nautico just released a sprawling free mix called Atlantics Vol. 3, featuring a brand new Jacob 2-2 single, along with some other names that we recognize. While supposedly not as ambitious of Vol. 2, there are thirty-two free jams available for the taking over at Astro Nautico’s Bandcamp right now. Considering how legit this new Jacob 2-2 single sounds, it just might be high time for a dizzownload. “Videolympics”, while cluttered with a small choir of synth noises, immediately startles the listener with its smooth hi-fi clarity. Akin to the sounds coming from that dedicated movement of crystal clear funk, boogie, and soul music, the tune is mixed well and has a very metropolitan tone to it. Despite the 8-bit arcade sounds and the Tron-esque bassline, “Videolympics” sounds almost like overly ambitious corporate mood music, like birth and death in the digital age. What really makes this track a winner is that neon shorts-wearing bright eyed 80’s whiz kid vibe that’s a part of every Jacob 2-2 song, but with a crisp, clean bite to it that goes down ever so smoothly. Pour yourself some champagne, play a couple rounds of Galaga, and grab a free MP3 download of Jacob 2-2’s “Videolympics” today. Afterwards, check outAtlantics Vol. 3, and consider spending some cash on Jacob 2-2’s previous releases. We’ll personally stand behind his Cabazon EP.
Midnight Runners, our favorite Asian boogie duo, just dropped this sassy new single not ten hours ago via their Soundcloud page. Sporting that phat retro bassline and those italo-disco synth tracks you know and love, “Keep On” is an incurably optimistic synthwave anthem. Despite its pensive half-tempo pacing, this sunny uptown jam really keeps on, with its soulful vocal looping and crisp vintage percussion. Expect no less than a booty bouncin’, bitch bangin’ time with Midnight Runners’ latest single “Keep On”. If you’re a fan of Capo Blanco, Sloslylove, or Spinoff, grab a free MP3 download of the tune after the jump, and be sure to make their Overdive EP your next calculated purchase. This is high class shit, y’all.
Amusement, the Croydon foursome that released this stellar remix of Disclosure’s “Flow”, really turns a good original jam as well. Some quick research into their relatively sparse online presence yields results quickly, as their most recent Soundcloud offering pops in such a sensible way while still retaining a warm self-produced sheen. “Mural”, posted four months ago, has a very hi-fi studio grade tone to it, putting it in the same sound echelon as acts like Fixers or Races. The layered wailing at the forefront of this very radio-friendly indietronic tune is complemented perfectly by the light beat and the warm, pervasive bassline. The highlight, of course, is the digital distortion towards the end of the refrain. Very simple, effective, and catchy. Some of those generic sounding indie rock bands really gel well with that experimental sound that we constantly chase, so we’d like to put in a plug for Amusement. We hope that their vibes continue to resonate for quite some time. Do tha right thing, and get an MP3 earful of “Mural”, by Amusement, and then see what else you can see by these guys afterwards. That Disclosure remix is definitely not to be missed either.