Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Under Your Spell by Desire

Thanks in part to the popularity of shows like the Netflix original Stranger Things, a formerly quiet movement in electronic music called "synthwave" is starting to get mainstream attention.  It had also been featured in the soundtrack to 2011's move Drive although that wasn't quite big enough to have come to my attention, at least.  "Under Your Spell" by Desire is from the Drive soundtrack.  Prior to that, Daft Punk's Tron: Legacy soundtrack seems to have foreshadowed the growing importance of the genre.

Synthwave, basically, sounds like 80s music soundtracks.  It's not just like the odd retro-sounding, analog synth-using synthpop band; although a few tracks kind of lean that direction.  Most of the artists operating in this space do not have any vocals, and write instrumentals.  Their official music videos either feature very old-fashioned 80s-looking video game graphics, or pictures of cars that were popular in the 80s like old Lamborghini Countachs or Ferrari Testarossas, or 80s style Trans Ams.  Much of it is kind of downtempo, although certainly not all of it.  It's not as extreme a version of nostalgia-indulgence as the chiptunes genre, where the main instrument is literally the musical chip from an old Sega Genesis or Nintendo NES or something like that, but at the same time, the idea that this is all some kind of "lost" 80s music soundtracks is integral to the genre.

This selection is one of the more stand-out tracks; my exploration of synthwave recently has convinced me that most tracks are not.  Rather, they best serve when linked together and played in the background rather than listened to as if they are really "hit single" capable.  To get a good sense of the genre, search up youtube for synthwave.  Most of your hits will actually be big sets of a bunch of songs put together into a single video—and this is probably the best way to listen to it, actually.  While there's lots to choose from, I got my initial sampling of what the genre meant in particular in the "Best of Synthwave and Retro Electro" in two hour and a half long parts, and "Best of Synthwave - Enjoy the Summer Mix" in three hour and a half long mixes.

But in the meantime, here's "Under Your Spell" by Desire.

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