Some fantastic new music hit the waves today. Here are three that hit me especially hard.
Gesaffelstein – ‘Forever (Feat. The Hacker & Electric Youth)’
The masterful Gesaffelstein has a new album out today called Hyperion, but I’m going to zero in on “Forever” because ELECTRIC YOUTH. This darkly cinematic cut features Bronwyn Griffin’s instantly recognizable vocals at the forefront of an airy and evocative specter of synths, underneath which the rhythm section mechanistically does its work. It’s a hypnotic gem and it’s great to have them all back. For more information on Electric Youth: here’s an in-depth interview we did in 2017 (and an equally deep companion piece); here’s Austin Garrick and friends in a Valerie Story on College’s Secret Diary; and both Griffin and Garrick in a cornerstone piece on Drive.
Matt Morton – Apollo 11 OST
Before the deranged audacities of a criminal wannabe-dictator gave us the farcical Space Force, the US was engaged in a more benign scientific/public relations mission to be the first to bring humans to the moon. JFK articulated that vision in September 1962 and almost seven years later the world saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin bouncing around Luna. NEON’s documentary, Apollo 11, tells that story, and includes the use of never-before-seen footage from the historic mission. Providing the compelling score is Matt Morton, who pairs traditional orchestrations with a fat, pulsating Moog Synthesizer IIIc and a Mellotron to help show how the Apollo 11 mission bridged the gap between the past and the future — from Jules Verne to Philip K. Dick. Space is the place. Milan Records released the score.
Michael Oakley – Introspect
The Scottish-born, Canada-based synthwave producer returns today with an album that throws a bright and colorful splash of acid on synthwave tropes that have been atrophying about 14 years into the genre’s existence. He employs songwriting and instrument choices from the 1980s — shades of Duran Duran, Vince Clarke, late-80s New Order, and Dead or Alive lace the album — but he infuses the record with a fresh, modern vivacity that sets it apart from the rest. Oakley has never been one to try to recreate the pioneers for the umpteenth time. Anything he touches — whether his own work or his production duties for talents such as FM-84’s Ollie Wride — has a novel sheen that signals a refreshed future for the genre.
Highlights include the buoyant dance cut “Left Behind,” the beautiful balladry of “Crystal Ships,” the benedictory “Rain,” and “Now I’m Alive,” featuring a romantic duet with Dana Jean Phoenix.
Catch Oakley and Phoenix at Outland Toronto in July, along with some other talented synthwave artists in the pop sphere. He’ll also be on The Vehlinggo Podcast this summer.