"Synth Wave Volume 1" (Album, 2016) !Recommended!
Electro London Records
Synth Wave Volume 1 takes us back to the heyday of the original synthpop/electro scene that exploded in the early 80's. But rather than simply trading on the nostalgia for that seminal era for electronic music, this release on the rising and impressive Electro London label, is as dynamic and exciting as the new synthwave scene it so expertly captures. Rather smartly, instead of making the mistake of attempting to define a sub-genre called "Synth Wave" Electro London have instead taken a pragmatic approach to bringing together this global overview of contemporary electronic music.
Focusing on the view that electronic, or 'synth' music if you prefer, which isn't dance music, and is directly influenced by the 1980s, is presently enjoying a huge revival, this release simultaneously demonstrates the breadth and strength of the scene, and invites newcomers to ride the wave too. It's a positive mindset and message which not ony makes Electro London so engaging as a rising force in the global electronic music scene, but from a UK perspective, where a lot of negative, self-flagellating doom and gloom tends to circulate within the scene, is a welcome breath of fresh air. Also tapping into rising sales of vinyl, the album is released on vinyl, but with a digital download option for those who want it digitally. It isn't available on CD.
Taking the listener on a global journey (artists come from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Sweden, and the UK) through the rich range of styles of modern synth pop & electro, it's a superb listening experience. Impossible to pull out a single track, as there's several that deliver the goods in style, and the entire selection is rock solid. Six of the twelve acts were new to me, and the other six are all relatively little-known. Massive Ego, who signed to Out Of Line last year, prehaps the best-known here. Evidence indeed that there's plenty of creativity still to explore in the genre, Promenade Cinema, Costaquitos en Globo, Ys Atlov, The Stir Fry Popstar, Technique and Meter Bridge each bring a different perspective. All succeed in proving that Electro London's overview of the field is a perfect snapshot of an undeniably global genre.
has to be made of the minimal and very
stylish black and white artwork of the release. Designed by Rogan Jeans
(who worked on the artwork for a bunch of well-known 80s/90s acts
including The Shamen), it looks glorious with a special machine
varnished matt sleeve. The attention to detail carried through to the
labels themselves (one black, one white), recalling the fine works of art
that accompanied those early 4AD releases or the first Some Bizarre label
album. As this is being marketed beyond the immediate underground
audience that will surely appreciate it, there's a good chance Synth Wave Volume 1
will crossover into the mainstream - which if it happens can only be
for the music
the vision and packaging.
Rob Dyer (June 2016)