Compelling celestial synths take you on a dreamy, ambient adventure filled with gorgeous melodies and a supreme sense of wonder.
What it lacks in vowels it makes up for with compelling electronic compositions. Wyndsrfr is a new project from musician and producer Jacob Prestidge, whose music heritage spans everything from ska to Americana to Vangelis. It’s quite the experience.
On the project’s new oft-ambient self-titled debut, Wyndsrfr pulls out all the stops to create serene and celestial synthesizer-laden pieces that serve to expand the mind, relax the soul, and make the listener dream absolutely big. The spirit of Tycho, Syntax, and Vangelis are indeed strong on this record.
Prestidge is equally comfortable crafting intimate fair as he is creating something grand and cinematic. It’s an extraordinarily uplifting thing to experience.
He’s so good at crafting these synth-driven, guitar-laden mood-enchancers that it’s a bit of a surprise he hasn’t always been a synth guy. Dreamwave was not his first foray into music.
“… Growing up I never really sought out any… electronic music of any kind,” Prestidge told Vehlinggo in an email exchange recently.
From Ska Dreams to Tangerine Dream
Prestidge’s first group was Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based ska band Skankin Buvas in the late 1990s, and over time he got more into folk and Americana. With his wife, Danielle, he formed a band that he’s still in — and which has a guest spot on this new album — called The Blackbird Revue. The band has an indie-rock sound that could fit in well among the rockier work of Megafaun and Hey Marseilles.
But things changed in the summer of 2014, when The Blackbird Revue were in a studio in Wisconsin. Prestidge noticed that the producer had some Vangelis albums.
“We struck up a conversation about him, which eventually led to my introduction to other electronic artists from the same era: Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarre, and most importantly, Tangerine Dream,” Prestidge said.
“When I heard the pulsing analog synths of Tangerine Dream’s Exit and Kraftwerk’s The Man-Machine, I was hooked,” he continued. “Though I’m primarily a guitar player, I’ve always found a certain mysterious magic in the lush, glowing sounds of synthesizers.”
That interest in synths goes back to a young age, when the music that filled his home growing up was a very particular Vangelis release. No matter how deep he went down the guitar-music rabbit hole, the synths of that work never really left Prestidge’s soul.
“Perhaps the most played record in my childhood home was Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire soundtrack,” Prestidge said. “To this day it remains one of my favorite albums.”
Fresh off that experience with his producer, Prestidge was inspired, he says. He began trying his hand at creating electronic and guitar-driven music around that time, working heavily in Propellerhead’s Reason program.
“I sincerely hope the joy I had making the album comes through the speakers when it’s played.”
His experiment proved successful fairly quickly, perhaps showing how aligned with the universe his decision was. Those early tracks were licensed for film and television, including spots on NBC, ABC, Fox, The Discovery Channel, and more.
Recently, he’s been listening to new releases from pioneers like Tangerine Dream and Jarre. However, lately Prestidge has been hit with inspiration from artists like Com Truise and Stranger Things composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein.
Earlier this year, he bought three synths: an Ensoniq ESQ-1 (’87), a Roland D-50 (’87), and a Yamaha AN1x (’97), and began to work on what eventually became the Wyndsrfr album.
“While I still use Reason for most of my drum sounds, almost all of the melodic content on the album was played by hand on those three instruments, and my guitar,” Prestidge said. “It’s been an incredibly fun journey into a world of music that I’ve come to deeply love. I sincerely hope the joy I had making the album comes through the speakers when it’s played.”
You can experience Wyndsrfr’s new album on the project’s Bandcamp page.
A side note: I could easily see a collaboration between Syntax and Wyndsrfr resulting in something extraordinary. Both seem to be traveling on the same galactic plane in a sonic sense.