These posts are written by: Nikolai T. Nelson

Scandroid – Monochrome

When Detroit based artist/producer Klayton, known also for his electronic-rock project Celldweller, debuted his new synthwave project of Scandroid last year it was met with overwhelming critical acclaim and fanfare. The self-titled album was a wonderfully written and performed piece of cyberpunk oriented synthwave, weaving an interesting and compelling story within, which brought together a well rounded auditory experience that begged to be listened to all the way through from start to finish as a result. With such a highly successful and equally praised debut the main question to ask, now with the release of Monochrome, is “does the follow up rise to the same level as it’s predecessor, perhaps even going beyond, or does it suffer from a sophomore slump?”

Hey! Listen to Skeleton Beach!

Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, the synthwave producer known as Skeleton Beach released his first album, Being There, in January of this year featuring his own unique blend of ambient darkwave. He has since followed it up with the Last Night Alive EP, which was released earlier this month, itself a sort of self-described “bridge” between his first album and the next which is currently in production. Although relatively new to the synth scene, Skeleton Beach has been making music since his early teens starting with the drums before moving on to guitar and eventually piano; all self-taught by just playing what “felt right.” Therefore it comes as little surprise that he’s been able to take to the synth genre so quickly, notably after being introduced to electronic music through Radiohead, Squarepusher, and Burial. Though what truly inspires the sounds of Skeleton Beach are the horror movie soundtracks of yesteryear, especially those by John Carpenter, and the heaviness of black metal, doom metal, and stoner metal with bands such as Sleep and Sunn O))) constantly in his listening rotation.

Hey! Listen to Gregorio Franco!

When one thinks about synthwave they more often than not conjure up images of neon landscapes made up of transparent grids, sunsets, beaches, palm trees, fast cars and anything else that may fit into such an aesthetic. That said, one does not tend to think about upside down crosses, demons, serial killers and an overall sense of evil in turn. However, for every genre that has ever existed there lies a much darker side, a subgenre which turns things on their head and produces a much more heavier sound in response. For synthwave that would be darkwave or darksynth, either seem to be interchangeable for the most part, with well-known acts such as Carpenter Brut, GosT, Perturbator, and Dance with the Dead carrying the torch. Of course, for every well-known act, there are those who are scratching, clawing and going through hell to be noticed, many of whom were influenced by those already leading that proverbial charge.

Gregorio Franco is one of those dark souls of the synth and, if what he’s produced thus far is any indication, he is not only one to keep an ear to the ground on but one to keep an eye out for as well.

Sekond Prime: Arrival EP

Before rocketing straight into the music it’s equally important to take a moment to admire the cover art for this release, which is wonderfully done by Grinwise, as it depicts a massive decapitated robot head floating ominously over a planetoid with it’s vast visage looking down upon an awed figure; which is exactly what it feels like when listening to the Arrival EP by Sekond Prime. While this debut EP certainly has a good head on its shoulders in terms of having its mind on synthwave, the body of work itself transforms into something else entirely as the songs roll out: that of a wholly unique sub-genre which can only be described as “spacewave.”