When faced with discussing the music of Ali Renault, it’s hard to choose where to begin. There is of course Heartbreak, his sizeable cadre of solo material and the various labels he is involved with, as well as a radio show and enduring DJ schedule. It’s perhaps for all these reasons and more that it took so long for this softly spoken cat enthusiast to release his self titled debut album – long overdue in many eyes.
For those with a penchant for the vintage synthesizer sounds of Italo-disco , cold wave and new wave synthpop, these are exciting times. While Andy Blake’s Dissident label is no longer with us, it’s legacy lives on – not just in the work of a whole raft of fast-rising electronic music producers, but also in the development of synthwave.
This superb compilation from Cyber Dance – subtitled “the new electro/disco sound of London” – offers a neat insight into the retro-futurist stylings of Britain’s tiny but impressive synthwave, electro and Italo scene. It’s as good a snapshot of that scene as you’re likely to find – this year, at least.
Throughout, the sounds are achingly vintage – all late 70s/early 80s flat-pack synths, new wave style and slightly wobbly drum machine beats – but this is more than mere revivalism. There’s a freshness and exuberance to the productions that can’t fail to excite. Perhaps understandably, it’s Brassica and Ali Renault who provide the big-name flourish. Brassica’s “Lydden Circuit” is a chiming robot chorus wrapped up in a chic synthwave finish, while Renault’s “Deep Sea Pumas” is a creaking dancefloor throb that sounds like it was beamed down from the stars.
Yet their are plenty of other stand-outs here from the scene’s lesser-known names – up and coming artists who’ve yet to make their mark on electronic music at large. It’s these contributions that make Messages From The Void Vol 2 so indispensable. Check the slo-mo Italo chug of Martin Aston’s “Mannista”, the back-to-the-future alternative pop of Bill Ambrose’s “Pariah”, and the icy expanse of “Arctic Wolf” by Glaswegians Meschi; all push synth-heavy electronic music in exciting new directions.
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