The ‘80s revival of the past few years has become a full-blown phenomenon in its own right at this point: personally, I’d declare the new Paramore album that came out last week as the tipping point between underground and establishment, but that’s a pretty subjective line (and there are certainly previous lines that could be drawn). Either way, it’s led to a few new genres; vaporwave, synthwave/retrowave, and nu-disco/future funk have all made their way into the flourishing online musical zeitgeist.
Future funk in general presents an interesting phenomenon: I’ve personally seen it described as “vaporwave’s more outgoing cousin” in several places, and this is a pretty apt description. The genre combines the emphasis on the semi-corporate, packaged plunderphonics of vaporwave with the upbeat tempos and pulsing drumbeats of modern EDM. Sunset Neon, the new project from multi-genre producer/instrumentalist Blue Stahli trades in this formula in a manner that doesn’t exactly defy conventions or provide a new twist on the genre, but carves out a space to be highly enjoyable within it due to a deft understanding of just what makes this genre tick.
Immediately, the upbeat summery vibe of “Lazer Pink” hits you: as the weather’s warming up in (most of) the Northern hemisphere, the atmosphere here is a perfect way to guide your mind to a palm-tree-gilded, sunny beach straight out of a vintage buddy cop classic set in Miami. The strong emphasis on synthesizers somewhat eschews the straightforward funk samples that genre compatriots like Macross 82-99 and Pop Up! favor; while this doesn’t completely separate Sunset Neon from others it certainly adds a different flavor to the sound that’s quite welcome in a genre that can become stale very easily. To quote the artist himself on the process:“Lazer Pink” takes that ‘glossy neon aerobics video buried in a Malibu beach’ vibe I love, and essentially gets remixed through the lens of some funky-as-hell nu disco/french house. It was also an experiment in my main music program, Renoise, in not using any virtual synths. Just chopped up/manipulated audio, single note sounds, and making my own synths out of single-cycle waveforms. So it’s pretty much getting all the way back to my tracker roots while making something to shake asses to. If you own an ass, feel free to shake it to this.
Put simply, “Lazer Pink” is future funk done right. It’s fun, dancy, and easily digestible, hitting all the right marks to stand out in its genre. If you’ve been searching for that perfect ‘80s summer vibe – whether you’re in the Northern hemisphere, where it’s right around the corner, or the Southern hemisphere, where you’re perhaps looking for some nostalgia for warmer days as winter starts to set in – look no further: Sunset Neon has you covered.