Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Various - 2013 - Outrun Europa

Outrun Europa
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At this rate, I might be a record away from teasing my hair and applying on eyeliner in acid washed jeans. And while I hope that never comes to fruition (mental images will only leave lasting psychological scars, so it's better to not picture it), I'll be damned if this music is not catchy as all get-out. Here, by way of the internets is Outrun Europa a compilation of retro 80's electronic synth (30 tracks of it, in fact.) that I can't stop listening to. I have been listening to a lot of this genre lately, and when this landed in my lap, I didn't know what to do with myself. I was not expecting a wide array of stylistic choices between the artists, there is only so much material to mine with within this genre afterall, but even I was taken aback at just how great and varied  these tracks are (Plaisance, they of ridiculously awesome Regatta LP make an appearance, which was a plaisant surprise you might say... - I'll let myself out). There does seem to be a sci-fi bend to several songs, in the 'Technology is dangerous. Beware skynet!' vein of darker sci-fi trope that I personally love (they all more or less have a retro-future sci-fi disco bend for what that's worth). Of course speed seems to be a huge thematic element as well, with songs like "Excellerator" and "turbo interceptor" popping up as titles (oddly enough, neither of those come close to fastest tempo on the album by a long shot). Nothing here sounds remotely 'raw', in the live and off the cuff style that a basement folk record would. Every track, even the slower ones ("Somewhere" and "Stratus", specifically) are as sleek as that car on the album cover. Of course when everything is dominated by keyboards and synthesizers and the instruments that aren't either of those two are filtered through enough effects to sound like Tron's daydreams, the artificiality is by design. It might seem a little shallow (there's a reason this genre was originally huge in the 1980's), delivering exactly what you want in the form of endless hooks and catchy, hyperfast beats, that isn't a problem when the songs are this well crafted (straight into my veins!). The guitars are like wailing robots (or thundering industrial gods - I'm looking at you, Twilight Racing), the keyboards provide ultra-cool, cold, crystallized sonic ambience and it all fits together swimmingly. Non-stop musical hedonism. Now while I praise the album length, even I realize this could have been a more concise compilation; at least thematically, if a few of the tracks had been trimmed. Some of the songs do seem to be included on Outrun Europa just to cram as many artists into the track listing as possible. 20 tracks of non-stop, high speed tension probably would have been a better fit. It makes sense as a genre showcase this way, but I wanted to nitpick a bit.

If you don't have an affinity for this music at all, 30 tracks is going to turn you brain to mush. If however, you have even a fleeting interest in this or have been listening to synthwave longer than I've been alive, then by god this is your gold mine, friend.

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