Neon Index 15 — Navigators, Night, and Outer Reach

Welcome to Neon Index 15, a series of short-reviews of synth-related music albums! If you are not familiar with how this works, I strongly recommend taking a peek at Neon Index 0 for the why, how, and when.

I thank you for taking this journey with me.

In this edition we navigate the unknown, walk through the night, and reach through the cosmos.

This is Neon Index.

Navigators by Turbo Knight

Navigators is a 12-track Synthwave and Darksynth album by Turbo Knight released on the 25th of May 2019.

What is the most important factor of cohesion in an album? Different people seek different things, and as such, why and how a collection of songs is brought together under the same umbrella can quite vary. Some may find that the style ought to be the same, or that there needs to be a sense of linearity in the experience. But what if an album is build under a theme? Mind you, not topic, or aesthetic.

Turbo Knight takes theme-ing to heart with Navigators, and even though there are multiple genres, which include synthwave, darksynth, synthpop, etc., they are all presented the same, which makes the album quite interesting to listen to, as you don’t quite expect what will hit you next. The Dune-inspired staging, from the eerie cover to the track names clearly shows a different attitude towards the source material generally regarded for synthwave. The album still employs very familiar and enjoyable selection of synth instruments, with spacey melodies, and deep, relaxing atmosphere, achieved by plenty of reverberation and the wide sound stage. While this stands true, the mood itself can go from energized and happy to dark and fearful, depending on the genre leaning. The scifi and cyberpunk imprint can also be observed, which helps the experience be very consistent and fun.

Navigators could easily seem like it was built as a scifi soundtrack. This take on the theme of the legendary Dune, attained through a very cohesive but diverse collection of different synth genres, surely has something for everybody. As not only does this space journey stay on path with how well the genres are implemented, it is a genuine surprise as to where the album will navigate you to next.

Navigate to the unknown on Spotify and Bandcamp.

Sounds of the Night by Surge

Sounds of the Night is a 7-track Synthwave album by Surge released on the 17th of October 2019.

The time of the day has quite the impact on not only the presentation of the music, but the mood itself, due to the general associations. Dawn, midday, sunset, and night have all drastically different feelings, the latter being colder and more mysterious - as nighttime is when you felt most lonely, a perfect time to check upon your inner self.

Sounds of the Night captures the rougher and more atmospheric sense of the night. When was the last you stopped for a second to really listen to how the night sounds? It might seem like a boring and senseless idea, but those sounds are which conditioned our nocturnal emotions. Be it the sound of crickets, passing of cars, or the unusual silence on the streets, these all come together to create a unique experience. The album walks the line somewhere between synthwave and a cinematic soundtrack, heavily focusing on the atmosphere, which is gritty and suspenseful. The 80s electronic drums, heavy basslines, and multitude of arpeggios, which combined with a minimal but hopeful melody, will make anyone seeking synthwave quite satisfied, while the careful pacing and tempo of the tracks give the album the depth and variation of a soundtrack.

Surge’s Sounds of the Night genuinely feels like a midnight walk. You’ll feel thoughtful and nostalgic through the embrace of the darkness, lit by the wonderfully relaxed cinematic synthwave. A listen in total darkness is recommended.

Walk through the night on Spotify and Bandcamp.

Outer Reach by Overvad

Outer Reach is a 4-track Synthwave and Synthpop album by Overvad released on the 5th of August 2019.

Space and science fiction are quite the beloved topics in many genres of music, synthwave included. Unfortunately, since it is so popular you can find almost every detail already represented, thus it is quite hard to create something truly unique. One particular extreme that has not been touched a lot is expressing the alien feeling. Because it is very important for the listener to connect with the music, making something alien-like almost sounds like a contradiction.

Outer Reach is a dark and epic alien vision of the outer space, related through the familiarity of synthesizers. Synthwave at heart, the album tries to bring the genre to its darkest before reaching into darkwave or darksynth, with haunting, crystalline melodies, deep bass, electronic drums with acoustic patterns, long and flowing supporting chords. But most importantly an uncanny atmosphere. One strong method utilized here to strike the unfamiliar is engaging fear through aggressiveness and threat. This not only adds a unique flavor to the music, but also coupled with the exotic background sounds, achieves the same alien mood in the end. Due to this, the tempo of the tracks is quite fast, to an extent that one can almost feel flying in hyperdrive or fighting a demonic-looking creature on another planet.

Outer Reach drives a very subtle balance of the cosmic unknown through familiarity. The gritty, but speedy synthwave will not let you feel comfortable, but rather compel you to keep listening to the energy-filled soundtrack of the void to satisfy your fear-filled hunger.

Reach through the cosmos on Spotify and Bandcamp.

Found this issue of Neon Index interesting? Take some time to listen to the albums!

Tracks which are most representative of the album are compiled in the Neon Index Spotify Playlist. Give it a follow to discover more albums in the future!

This was Neon Noir, and I’ll catch you next time.

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Synthwave Artist

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Neon Noir

Neon Noir

Synthwave Artist

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