In another varied week for Unknown Pleasures, Getintothis’ Mike Stanton dabbles in cinematic pop, mysterious downtempo hauntology and warmly melodic synthwave.
From the opening electronic bass hook to the swooping falsetto chorus and washed synths, Danish dream-pop duo Sparkling have produced a heady and euphoric pop song of fanciful flights and anthemic chills.
Say Goodbye to the Ragged Tiger is a grandiose, intricately catchy, hook-fest, replete with new wave flourishes and indie-rock posturing.
Formed in 2002 by Carsten Mørch-Bentzen (vox) and Jens Christian Madsen (synths), Sparkling welcome guitarist Oliver Hoiness and Peter Buch on bass duties for Say Goodbye to the Ragged Tiger. After a long hiatus Sparkling are returning with a new album, Felonious and Say Goodbye… is the first glimpse of what is shaping up to be a hotly anticipated release in 2019.
Say Goodbye to the Ragged Tiger is a song about letting go of old demons – and most of all, a song about the knots and beauty of life. According to the band; the musical foundation is electronic, however, they explore the human aspect of synthesizers and machines, eschewing programming and playing by hand, re-amping in the studio to create maximum depth, bridging between voice and instruments.
Say Goodbye to the Ragged Tiger is out now. The album Felonious will be out in 2019.
Kid Ulysses barely scratches the surface of the internet, Soundcloud being his only discernible presence, something that is rare in today’s seething mass of artists, musicians and producers vying for social media exposure. This lends an air of mystery to just who exactly Kid Ulysses is. Hopefully he may emerge from the shadows in the near future but for now he remains something of an enigma.
Opening with the low click and scratch of vinyl and a low-fi glaze, Shiny instantly transports the listener back to a time of half-remembered TV shows and subliminal adverts. Thick vintage synth melodies mesh with nocturnal production and ghostly samples to add depth and a tangible retro appeal. Shiny is very much a cross between Boards of Canada and The Advisory Circle and, like the aforementioned artists, Kid Ulysses creates an evocative and atmospheric mood that sounds as if teased from antique, slowly malfunctioning equipment.
There are elements of synthwave among the vintage hauntology. The analogue synths are warm, allowing the bright leads to float and drift over the percolating beats. This is the stuff of the past, Radiophonic flourishes, library music fuzziness and ethereal elegance. An assured release.
Shiny is available to stream on Kid Ulysses’ Soundcloud page.
Synthwave; it’s seemingly everywhere and it takes a fair bit of digging to find the quality hiding amidst the bland and derivative. Often it will be a hook, a vocal or a key change that drags you in and you experience the joy of finding that gem unfurling before your very ears. Tonight (feat. Von Kaiser) is one such find. SkiMode is an electronic producer firmly rooted in 80’s synth nostalgia, who dabbles in thick analogue pads, epic chord progressions and bright beats. The sound is straight out of Miami or LA belying the fact SkiMode hails from the less sunny and not-so-tropical Manchester.
Tonight is all shimmering arpeggiators and warm synth washes that evoke golden hour sunsets. It is an essentially stripped-down track that builds and ebbs with pulse-like fluidity. Not as frenetic or upbeat as many of his contemporaries, Tonight is a laid-back affair, male and female vocals are understated and mix with an earthy texture, adding warmth to the colder sounding synths.
This is synthwave with heart and even includes an obligatory power guitar lead that pushes the track into movie montage territory. Tonight is a fun and warmly endearing trip into the neon-night.
Tonight is available from SkiMode‘s Bandcamp page.