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.
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.
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."
OK I'm going to open this post by just saying: HELL YEAH. That was my first reaction when I learned that Dance With the Dead (of whom we've already spoken) were working with Scandroid on a remix of one of his tracks for his upcoming release, Dreams of Neo-Tokyo. Apparently, the new release will feature remixes of all tracks with vocals from Scandroid's amazing self-titled retrowave release. The idea is to breathe new life into these tracks and re-release them as their own unique story suite. Enter Dance With the Dead and their unique mix of rock and metal with retrowave. Hear the result of this incredible collaboration right below!
You might have noticed that some of us on the blog staff really love Synthwave and Retrowave. And why wouldn't we? There's so much in it that appeals, both musically and culturally. Some of it is enjoyable simply because it sounds great; most of it enjoys the added bonus of being culturally interesting, looking back on cultural and historical movements with a critical eye. And some of it is just damn FUN. Case in point: Dance with the Dead. This project straddles the boundaries between synthwave, EDM and plain old dance with its catchy beats and larger than life synth lines. However, it also incorporates a hefty deal of metal influences, with some of the tracks being downright heavy. On the newest release, B-Sides: Volume 1, these influences have really been brought to the fore. Just listen to the opening track below.
There's a certain warmth to analog synths that many are now focused on exploring and replicating. In this young and still-emerging revival scene, known colloquially as retrowave, that brings out the best of 80's synth music the same way Kickstarter has with NES-era video games, many are fully embracing this warmth, all the while augmenting the staple sound - the calculated and gritty urban futurism of the soundtracks for movies like Drive and Blade Runner - to work it into house music, progressive electronic, and synthpop. As a genre, it's captivated us here at Heavy Blog - we did a starter kit on it, and I wrote an article on a notable album in the genre featuring The Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciatio - and it's apparently also got the attention of the folks at Relapse Records, who are putting out the debut album by S U R V I V E (henceforth without the spaces), a synthwave/experimental electronic quartet intent on recapturing what made that vintage analogue sound so special.
If you pay any attention to our biweekly playlists (click here if you missed last week), the Heavy Blog staff listens to a lot of weird music that is frequently outside the metal genre. This is a featur... Read More...