FutureSounds staff writers share their top tracks of the moment…
Bart Graft- ‘La Bela Rosa’ [Business Casual]
Bart Graft is back on Business Casual with a lush new album, A Sign of Life .
The talented producer and instrumentalist from Ireland expertly mines and recreates 80s sounds that are less commonly explored in retrowave: gorgeous indie/post-punk guitars, New Age-y digital synths and Synclavier-style composition.
‘La Bella Rosa’ is a 6-and-a-half bar mixolydian mantra (right on!) that loops around, building to soaring peaks before fading away. File alongside Frank Zappa’s Jazz From Hell and the Durutti Column’s Guitar and Other Machines.
patchnotes – ‘I Love You’ [Pacific Plaza Records]
With ‘Endless Surrender’, Oregon’s patchnotes levels-up his blissed out brand of shoe-gaze electronica (blisswave?), delivering a singular sequential journey into the euphoric. Part early 90s Weatherall, part beach club vibes, but with a contemporary synthwave aesthetic reminscent of LA Nights bleeding into the mix, ‘Endless Surrender’ feels like 5am post-club drives – surrounded by soulmates.
My suggestion is to stick it on, sit back, and be enveloped in the haze. Standout ‘I Love You’ sounds a little like Spacemen3 and Wolfclub are making out in your LA pad, lost in palm trees, in the throes of MDMA. It’s a 46minute trip.
Chris Laufman feat. Wise Blood – ‘Stars are Blind (Follow Me)’ [Self Released]
The late 90’s was a period of happy-go-lucky summertime disco pop (think ‘LEN – Steal My Sunshine’). This uplifting track harks back to this period and throws in a segment of ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’ which is of course one of the most memorable samples we’ll ever know. What we get is a supremely catchy dancefloor number that doesn’t attempt to cram too much in.
The entire track relies on the listener not tiring of the repetitive yet unforgettable melody and it works perfectly for three and a half minutes. Even if you’re not much of a dancer, you can still sit back with a Bacardi Breezer and worship New Labour to this baby.
Occams Laser – ‘Destroyer’ [FutureSounds Vol.4]
It’s been a couple of years since we dropped the last FutureSounds compilation. A combination of Covid, family life and work projects has seen it rest on the back-burner. But it’s one of my favourite projects on the label – a collection of tracks from some of the best producers in the Synthwave world, with all the profits going to charity.
We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to bring the next installation to life and I couldn’t resist showcasing an absolute banger by Occams Laser. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised, his work has a consistency that justifies the ‘King of Darksynth’ tag. But what excites me most about ‘Destroyer’ is the incorporation of new elements into his production style.
It’s an 8-bit masterpiece. Dark and relentless. Bitcrushed Darksynth to soundtrack your getaway drive…
The compilation itself is currently slated for a March 17th release. Expect killer contributions from every corner of the Synthwave scene.
Enzo Van Baelen
Electronic Visions – ‘A Moment of Clarity (Stages 1-2)’ [Eye Witness Records]
In these crazy times, the only certainty that a new year brings these shores is freezing fog and a general need some of that sweet, sweet warmth from the sun. Now whilst the former is out of my control, I was pleased to stumble across this particular release to add some thick warming layers of synth to lift my temperature. Dutch electronic artist Electronic Visions has been providing some consistent chillwave content for quite some time now, most notably (for me) the February 2022 release ‘Dana Point’ with Seattle’s Hello Meteor.
My particular pick for this month goes a little further back than 2022 though. EV’s March 2021 EP ‘Illusions of Time’ is enjoying a well deserved renaissance on Bandcamp thanks to Eye Witness Records’ recent release of the EP on wax. The highlight of the EP for me is the 10 minute opus that is ‘Moment of Clarity (Stages 1-2)’. Stage one is wonderfully slow building spacescape that culminates to intricate and super-clean layers of synthesiser. This first stage reminded me strongly of the Berlin breakdown version of Annie’s iconic release ‘Anthonio’ from the motion picture soundtrack for The Guest (2017). Enveloping. Dreamy, Lovely.
Stage 2 is introduced by the soft sound of waves, then releasing a more bass-driven but equally as smooth mix. It feels the journey has moved us from that spapescape to a sundrenched beach. Equally as satisfying.
The entire track reminded me of MEO and Memorex’s 2018 track Pornwaves (from the EP of the same name). Certainly not in style, but in its ability to create 2 distinct worlds in a 10 minute track that feels like it’s over in a matter of moments.
Illusion of Time is available now as a digital download and on record via Eye Witness Records. There are still copies available if you want to get your hands on this fine example of chillwave.