‘The Rise of the Synths’ Companion Album Is Out Today

Today marks the release of the full vinyl, cassette, and digital companion albums for The Rise of the Synths, the international synthwave documentary. In addition to featuring artists’ original work from the previously released digital EPs — cuts from Giorgio Moroder & Raney Shockne, Com Truise, Voyag3r, Robert Parker, Gunship, and Code Elektro, and many more — the full release also has bonus tracks from Daniel Davies, Lakeshore Records’ renaissance man John Bergin, Geno Lenardo, and German Engineering.

You can buy the new digital, vinyl, and cassette editions of the official companion release via Lakeshore’s Bandcamp page.

I’ve already reviewed the songs from EP 1 and EP2, in addition to revealing the art and information for the vinyl version. I also premiered “Night Stalker,” Carpenter Brut’s contribution to the collection. So today I’ll focus on the cassette and the bonus cuts.

The Rise of the Synths vinyl
Art for the vinyl edition by John and Henry Bergin.

One standout among the bonus cuts is Daniel Davies’ “Lost in a Love,” the John Carpenter godson and bandmate’s contribution to the stellar original comic book soundtrack for Bergin’s Wednesday. I’m glad Lakeshore Records decided to include the cut on this collection, because I think it’s extremely underrated.

The slow-paced synth-pop ballad has a colorful and catchy synth hook that draws you in as Davies’ calming vocals ponder the nature of being deep in love. It’s got the John Hughes film vibes mixed with the minimalist sensibilities of Carpenter.

Next up is another Wednesday cue, Geno Lenardo’s dark and raw build-up, “Makita.” It’s a foreboding blend of ominous arps, haunting synth pads, and a throbbing drum foundation.

German Engineering’s “The Osbourne Effect” is a bouncy, fuzzed-out bit of arp interplay. Arps upon arps start and stop in sync but seemingly out of time, as legato synths slowly put out their long notes in a bid to glue everything together. It’s what would happen if Philip Glass turned cyborg.

The other bonus cuts are Bergin’s contributions. First is “Crash & Burn,” a 1990s-sounding, industrial-tinged number from an EP of the same name, which is itself part of a soundtrack to a forthcoming novella. The cut recalls Bergin’s work in the ’90s with Trust Obey, albeit with more of a synthwave influence.

“Fleshman,” also from Crash & Burn, Vol. 1, comes across like the love child of Carpenter and Trent Reznor. There’s an ominous, bit-crushed quality with a heavy underpinning of the macabre. It’s a heart-pounding approach to synth cues and it’s fantastic.

Cassette Release of ‘The Rise of the Synths’

In addition to the digital version and the vinyl edition — the latter which was available for pre-order and sold out two rounds fairly quickly before going on sale again today — there is also a cassette version via Lakeshore and cassette partner Mega Tapes.

Bergin, who did A&R for the Rise project, was interviewed for the documentary, and is also art director for Lakeshore, designed the killer cassette art.

'The Rise of the Synths' cassette art by John Bergin.
‘The Rise of the Synths’ cassette art by John Bergin.

The tracklisting for the cassette appears to be the same as the vinyl edition, so no worries there, tape heads.

What Is ‘The Rise of the Synths’?

What makes this companion release possible is the international documentary behind it all, which was primarily funded by an expansive crowdfunding effort.

Director Ivan Castell and producer Javi Moreno are traveling the world from their native Spain, interviewing artists inspired by the likes of Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, and Brad Fiedel, and Jan Hammer. So far, they’ve interviewed Drive artist College and his Valerie Collective colleague Maethelvin; Dance with the Dead; The MidnightOGRE, Carpenter Brut, Lazerhawk, Perturbator, Gost, Gunship, MPM Soundtracks, Nina, and many other artists, music journalists, tour organizers, and others involved in the scene (including me). Other interviews with the likes of Miami Nights 1984 and Electric Youth could also be on the docket. For more information, read up on the documentary and its scope. It’s an inspiring endeavor.

From Castell and Moreno’s American film shoots

From Their European Sessions

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