Let the synths play on. January was another amazing month in synth-inspired music and Indie Discotheque has once again painstakingly curated the best of the month’s synth songs. From the dreamy, droning music of Hotel Pools, to synthwave legends like DJ Ten, Gunship, and Futurecop! Put your dancing shoes on, and let’s get into the tunes.
1. Hotel Pools – Nightshade
Lo-fi synth is taking over right now, and there’s great promise in Hotel Pools, the new project from Ben Braun of Mackintosh Braun fame. Hotel Pools is a fitting name for this project, where every sound is relaxed, filtered, and liquid, either through drunken distortion as you lay on the deck or floating on your back in the pool itself. The synth work is brilliant on “Nightshade” -- my favorite Hotel Pools song to date.
2. Horixon – Every Turn feat. Else Born (Dubka Diskomix)
There are times when the remix really pulls the potential of a song forward, and this is the case with the Dubka Diskomix of Horixon’s track, “Every Turn.” The track starts with a very subtle, droning tone in the background that really helps the bells shine. The percussive elements in the track have the clarity I desire, and that bouncing bassline pulls everything together. It deserves “Every Turn” to the dancefloor.
3. DJ Ten – We Are the Night feat. Jessie Frye
DJ Ten is back with another killer track featuring the talented Jessie Frye on vocals. “We Are the Night” has more of a 90s percussive pop feel than a lot of the music that currently fits within this style, but the vocal approach, reverberation, and processing still leans toward the 80s. The synth work has excellent layering, with twinkling textures over more grounded stabs and chords that have a less refined feel.
4. Gunship – The Video Game Champion
I didn’t expect to see a feature on Gunship and the synthwave movement in the Wall Street Journal last month, but it happened and here we are with new music from the band. “The Video Game Champion” has a very staccato foundation with layer after layer of synth and vocal blanketed overtop. Gunship doesn’t want a moment of disinterest in their tracks and it shows, amplified by multiple guitar solos.
5. Joypopp – Desire (Lueur Verte Remix)
When you dust off a track from eight years ago and give it a fresh perspective, it not only exposes the talent of the remixer who dares to take on such a project but also the original artist. In this case, we’re getting a double dose of the question, where have they been? It’s been a couple of years since we’ve heard anything from Joypopp and was even longer for Lueur Verte, and it’s great to hear these artists again.
6. Monterosso – Aimants
The harmonics in this track, paired with the French language, are what make this piece so stellar. While the melodies are simple, their pairing awash with the synth work add a satisfying complexity, like swimming in tears of lovers as they passionately gaze into each other’s eyes. Lyrically this song is pure, sweaty sex, the healing of troubles through pure magnetic attraction, the sounds of emotion.
7. Dombrance – Donna
More artists need to consider the use of vocal percussion. It works well for this track by Dombrance, a drum prominent. He creates a minimalistic track with moody synth chords washing over it. Subtle storytelling is created with the bending of tones, adding a means of chapter turning that keeps you listening for more.
8. Kito Jempere Band – Tiger Punch
Music heavy in juicy arpeggiation and warbled synth stabs, that have foundations laid in cowbell, might be the single best description for what my personal sound of music would aspire to include. It’s all here for us in this new instrumental jam by the Kito Jempere Band, punching tigers with sharp synthesizers.
9. Futurecop! – We Belong feat. Parallels
I’ve realized how opinionated I’ve become regarding Futurecop, a massive talent in the synth world who has positively progressed in sound with these latest works. Generally speaking (certainly not entirely), Futurecop is a band that I need to have vocals with, and Parallels takes “We Belong” to the next level.
10. Funk LeBlanc – One of a Kind (Pallace Remix)
If you’re looking for a bouncy, synth-filled dance track with robotic vocals about apple jacks and phat asses, look no further than the latest offering from Funk LeBlanc. This features a heavily vocoded vocal from Dorian Kitaoka, and the Pallace remix gives the track just a little more oomph than the original.
11. Fury Weekend – Euphoria feat. Scandroid
This track is epic, and a title like “Euphoria” is fitting. It’s a track about unplugging yourself and realigning with your partner, being human, and finding natural connections. The synths in your face, with solid accompanying guitar riffs and twinkling arpeggiations that keep the mood uplifting.
12. The Golden Filter – All the Way In
Minimalistic, percussive, convincing. It’s more glitch than it is sonic, more programming than it is key work, but the droning of the sounds and textures in this track are too good to not include in the list this month. The lyrical treatment is mesmerizing, with classic effects to get you ready to dive all the way in.
13. Neon Workout – Le Funk Digitales
Part synth jam, part future funk, this latest track from Neon Workout will make you want to lose control. This project doesn’t get the love it deserves. The premise of the project is for Neon Workout to write music for his own pornographic films, and it results in dripping energy that other artists don’t achieve.
14. Struan – Better
Do you know those songs that play during the montage of 80s teen films? This song fits that concept. I think about this song from the perspective of an 8th-grade crush. Is it a love song? Or is he just a pompous, overconfident fool trying to win you back with compliments and how much he knows about you?
15. We are the Way for the Cosmos to Know Itself – Don’t Bother
The layering and clarity of the synth is a beautiful contrast over the percussion underneath it, which sounds like it was played in the other room and amplified through a plastic bucket. This is not a criticism, it’s brilliant. Lyrically this track is so fitting, with the way the mood of the music matches its message.
Bonus! We also created a list of tracks for December, and here they are: