Reviews

Happy Bandcamp Fee-Waiver Day (Again): Listen to These Releases

Bandcamp has got us trained in a certain way since the outbreak of the pandemic. The first Friday of the month since April has been a day for the popular music platform to wave its revenue share on each sale. (I am not sure what their share is for physical elements, but for digital sales it’s 15 percent.) Some artists and labels are even timing new releases now in order to maximize the opportunity to get a bit more cash.

First of all, please do buy the Vehlinggo Presents: 5 Years comp, if you haven’t already. Although it was released in November, most of the tracks are still exclusive [The Midnight, Valerie Collective, In Mirrors (produced by Johnny Jewel), Mecha Maiko, Deadly Avenger, Metavari, Betamaxx, Diamond Field & Dana Jean Phoenix, and many more.] I give the artists all the money. The only outside party taking a cut is PayPal.

Now that that is out there, scroll down below and check out my legion of recommendations for your listening and buying pleasure. Some are newer releases (those are toward the top) and some are just albums, EPs, and songs that I really like and want to highlight. Go hog wild and drop some serious cash. It’s tough out there in the music industry. Not only are artists not able to earn money touring, but a lot of them have service jobs to pay the bills and we all know how that industry is doing.

(Editor’s Note: To reiterate, the closer to the top the newer the release. There are probably exceptions, but I suspect it’s not a big deal.)

Deadly Avenger & Si Begg — YOKAI

Deadly and Si are a horror-trailer-scoring powerhouse duo and the music on this album reflects their penchant for upending the established order of trailer music. As with previous Burning Witches Records releases, Yokai comes in gorgeous vinyl packaging. (The duo have scored trailers for Hereditary, Midsummer, Parasite, IT, and Pet Sematary, among other things.)

Bonus: Check out my interview with Deadly Avenger for the new Burning Witches Records podcast episode.

Black Marble — I Must Be Living Twice

The Brooklyn-based synth-pop artist has a talent for invoking elements of the past in order to create something new. Like his fellow Brooklynites Nation of Language, Black Marble (AKA Chris Stewart) embarks on that mission without ever getting lost in ceaseless and cynical nostalgia. On his upcoming EP, available now for pre-order and releasing on Aug. 14 via Sacred Bones, Black Marble applies his recognizable style to covers of songs by Robert Palmer, Lives of Angels, Wire, The Field Mice, and Grouper (!).

Available now is the exquisite cover of Wire’s “In Manchester.” Pre-order the digital version or gorgeous 12-inch right now, and also get the scoop on the EP’s backstory at that link.

Jex Opolis — Jan’s Hammer

Brooklyn-based DJ and producer Jex Opolis taps into his DVAS (Valerie Collective) roots to create a synthwave-tinged dance track that Sonny Crockett would love.

Kraków Loves Adana — “Faces Replaced”

The German duo is celebrating their 10th anniversary and have released a captivating rework of their 2010 single “Porcelain.”

John Carpenter — Skeleton

John and Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies are back with their first non-score release since 2016. (They’ve been busy with Halloween-related fare, of course.) It’s a propulsive and cinematic pair of cuts from the masters of synth scores. Davies’ guitar work is sublime and the synths will envelope you with arpeggiated bliss. The two songs are a taste of the forthcoming Lost Themes III, the long-awaited followup to the trio’s score-esque albums. (While you listen, read these interviews with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies.) You can listen to the songs digitally right now, and pre-order some cool 12″ vinyl variants.

The Warhorse – COVIDIOT

Face-melting yet strikingly melodic. They’re donating all proceeds to Heart of LA, an organization that provides free programs to thousands of underserved youth in the city.

Gavino Moretti — Girl Zero

The ever-fascinating Spun Out of Control has a couple new releases up today. Most relevant to Vehlinggo readers is Gavino Moretti’s darkly beautiful and pleasantly menacing Girl Zero. Available now in digital and cassette forms.

Synths United Against Hate compilation

Synth artist Astral Tales asked his favorite synthwave artists (including Kristine, Von Hertzog, Mecha Maiko, and Timecop1983) to contribute some of his favorite tracks to help create a robust compilation, the proceeds of which go to The Loveland Foundation, which raises money to help Black women and girls get access to therapy. (Therapy can be expensive and not everyone who needs it can get access.)

Jules in Trouble — Dark Jewels

A haunting collection inspired by the German Netflix show Dark.

NEKO CHAMBER — Just Drive: Songs from the Motion Picture ‘GOODBYE SEVENTIES’

Three evocative numbers from the soundtrack to Goodbye Seventies. NEKO CHAMBER is Scam Avenue’s and System of Touch’s Devery Doleman and Daniel Ka$$hu. Check out the trailer.

 

Coleurs — “Your Words”

A grand wash of classic M83 synthy shoegaze vibes.

Sébastien Tellier — Domesticated

One of the most beloved French musicians released a new album at the end of May — his first studio album since 2014’s L’Aventura. (He spent those intervening years scoring film and TV and making music with Dita Von Teese.) On Domesticated, Tellier was aiming to create a new, futuristic pop sound while never losing the Tellier Touch. According to his label, Record Makers: “Mostly written at home, Sébastien allowed himself to be inspired by what he had in front of him: piles of plates stacked in the sink, dirty socks spread out on the scratched floor, two beautiful children he has yet to domesticate…or is it him now who is being domesticated?”

Given that we’re all domesticated now, Tellier has used his artistic foresight to create the perfect soundtrack for a life barely spent outside.

Primo the Alien — “Sexual Safari”

The Austin-based siren and producer has unleashed a steamy, evocative song laced with catchy hooks and sweaty charisma.

Take The Night — “Lost Days”

A healthy dose of wistfulness over a driving backbeat from the duo of Dave Charlton and Tom Homan. I love the vocals and the composition that sounds a bit like The War on Drugs sans guitar meets Timecop1983.

Neon Arcadia & Xennon — “Chemicals”

What would happen if My Chemical Romance went synthwave?

SUNESIS — Music for Space Stations

An intergalactic dreamscape recalling Cliff Martinez, Wendy Carlos, and Massive Attack, but with SUNESIS’s own touch.

The Unseen — To Where We Roam

The “darksynth” moniker scared me off at first, but upon diving in I’m finding the cinematic synthscapes to be a damn fine rewarding experience. In some ways it reminds me of the work of Darkest.

Immortal Girlfriend — RIDE EP

The Milwaukee-based duo Immortal Girlfriend make red-lit, dark-room synthwave that occupies the same mood-space as Chromatics. You’re at that stage when you’re not ready for the downtempo swansong of the night, but the hyperactive bangers are long past you. In this space you’ve got a bit of time to take a breath and get a little moody, because any good night requires a potent dose of introspection.

Nite Jewel — On Your Own / The Jokes On You EP 

One of the founding artists of chillwave is also adept at channeling the 1980s Minneapolis sound with a modern touch. This 2018 EP is just one example of this. It’s a must-buy.

Alpha Chrome Yayo — Skylight Sessions 

A bright, ambient foray into something greater.

Suzanne Doucet & William Wichmann — Brilliance

This 1983 German work of art is centered on deeply evocative, analog synth-driven New Age and ambient compositions.

Mobley — “Nobody’s Favorite”

The Austin-based music maker brings us a magical number built upon inventive vocal sampling, memorable melodies, and a tight rhythm.

Dragon Inn 3 — Be On My Side

The sheer number of hooks contained in any single synthy DI3 song is daunting. Their talent is profound.

RVBY MY DEAR — Waiting

A cinematic, Bristolian vibe filled with majesty and wonder.

Gab Manette — Making Waves

The Montreal-based artist makes that sunny type of fun synthwave that got a lot of us into the genre in the first place 10-15 years ago.

Steve Greene — “Timelines pt. 1”

An engaging studio improvisation from the synth maestro from Detroit.

There you go. I hope you bought all or at least most of what I’ve recommended. As always, buy your favorite soundtracks and scores on Bandcamp today from the likes of Lakeshore Records and Invada Records.


(Feature Photo: Milwaukee’s Immortal Girlfriend, taken from their Facebook page.)

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