Whenever you hit that point where you feel like things are too dark — an easy well to fall down in 2017 — you should put on the latest Timecop1983 EP, Lovers EP – Part II. The Dutch musician’s release came out in August, but with negative ectoplasm at high-measure this fall, now is perhaps the best time to dive deep into it. Even though the theme of the release seems to be the end of a relationship, there’s much more at play.
Timecop1983 got his start in the 1980s-inspired, synth-driven music movement around 2013. That was a few years after the neon cool of Drive, but also a few years before synthwave was taken over by metal-obsessed, EDM-grounded musicians. Since then, he and a few others, such as collaborators FM-84 and The Midnight, have comprised the small but talented group mining elements of the past to create something dreamy and new. The craft has served him well, earning him live spots alongside modern pioneers like College and Maethelvin, and Swedish powerhouses such as Robert Parker and Waveshaper. He’s also garnered film placements.
But it’s served us as listeners well, too. Following on the themes of the first Lovers EP from 2016, Timecop aims to make big, beautiful statements centered on retro-tinged dreamwave. This means he gives the listener inspiring, colorful mostly-major chords that give you breathing room to serenely find a universal connection to all things. It might not be the stuffy, dirty, and abrasive catharsis of the darker synthwave sects, but it offers its own salve during a time when a single tweet has people wondering if we’re all going to die.
One highlight is “Falling Apart,” a reverb-laden vocal number featuring By An Ion’s galactic contributions over arena-ready drums, shiny synth arps, triumphant synth leads, and a whole lot of reassurance. When the vocals ensure us that “I’ll be right here” through whatever happens, we know that we can survive the world falling apart.
Another mid-tempo beauty is “Girl,” featuring Manchester, England-based duo SEAWAVES (Si Van Brussel and Daniel Benjamin). It’s a dreamy pop song that dials up the celestial and serves up heaping spoonfuls of uplift. In some ways, its particular arrangement and composition remind me of Futurecop!, also a Manchester duo prone to crafting inspiring synth fare. A sea of synth pads, arps, and leads wash over the listener from the get-go, bathing the soul in universalness.
A standout instrumental is the closer, “Silent Tears,” a bouquet of gorgeous synths that serves to upend my vision of Timecop as an inspirational salve for the times. (After all, this isn’t the only number with a melancholic title.) Silent tears are the worst, because they represent someone in intense emotional pain that’s building up on the inside with no authentic outlet — no cathartic vulnerability.
However, all is not lost. For even silent tears can mean hope in the world of Timecop. What if — just what if — you’re crying tears of joy on the inside? What if deep down you know everything will be all right somehow, but you don’t want to let anyone know about your intuition just yet? Maybe you don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up? Perhaps you’re just modest and effusive? Maybe you don’t want to jinx it?
Whatever machinations are at work, we can rest assured that we have a chance at interconnectedness. No matter how bad it seems — no matter if the tough moments are interpersonal, international, or existential. The secret to our survival could be buried in these synths; we just have to listen a few more times to find it.
You can find it all on Bandcamp.