Sweeping into the acoustic space and into relevance, synthwave is an electronic musical genre that incorporates synthesizers as the primary instrument. There are many different types of synthesis techniques, but, essentially, all synthesizers (synths) generate sound waves by converting electrical signals into audible changes of pressure in the air, aka sound.
Synths can be used to emulate traditional instruments, such as strings or percussions, but they can also be programmed to mimic any sound imaginable. Because synth players can change and shape the waveforms in any way they choose, their ability to create all variety of sounds is nearly limitless.
These variations, in turn, make the synthwave genre incredibly versatile and have even spawned a number of likeminded offshoots, such as dubstep and vaporwave. And, if you’re interested in diving into this protean genre, the five bands listed below are the perfect place to start.
1. Windows 96
Eduardo Gabriel is a synthwave mastermind who is also a bit of a mystery. He goes by the name Windows 96 most of the time, but his Bandcamp page features an album from another artist, this one named Gudang.
There’s more. The artist’s website links to a Bandcamp page for another artist named Yvyy, whose bio says that the channel is a project by “Tsar and Eduardo Gabriel,” which means that Gabriel has three different projects in the works.
Every album produced by the artist has its own flavor and takes the listener to a unique space. In all of his projects, Gabriel creates a shoegazing style of sound that doesn’t ask much from anyone. Whether it’s the musical melodies, chords or drumbeat, the harmonious rhythm seems to flow like water.
Here is a good album to start you off on the Windows 96 journey.
Bl00dwave — the musical and visual project by Richard Daniel — is one of top synthwave producers of this generation. Originally from Rome, the musician makes material similar to that of Windows 96. Some of his synth sounds are retro-like, but the artist adds a new-age sound to complement the modern musical taste.
With extreme talent, Bl00dwave makes the designs of soundscape come alive. A good example is the song “Drowning.” The structure of the song is not that complex, but he must have applied studio effects to make each note sound so powerful.
The project was originally focused on the production of vaporwave music via any means necessary. By the end of 2015, Bl00dwave’s projects became completely original and without the assistance of samples.
If you like his pop-take on synthwave, then check out the newest album from Bl00dwave.
3. In Love with a Ghost
The artist’s Spotify bio reads, “In love with a ghost is a french composer, traveling through different dimensions and recording music about the nothing and the everything.”
In Love with a Ghost is a hella mellow synthwave — or probably better classified as a “chillwave.” The sounds still roll like a tide of water. The main element that separates In Love with a Ghost from other synthchill musicians is the use of organic-sounding percussion.
Another component to this French musician’s work is synth layered vocals. Of the pair, the synth accelerates the emotion coming from the vocals for an overall ethereal effect. Not all of the songs by the artist are synthwave. He certainly is influenced by other genres, like post-rock and chill electronic, but it’s all good.
You’ll be sure to fall in love with In Love with a Ghost.
4. Harris Cole
From Chicago, Harris Cole is a synthwave producer with a remarkably unique and smooth style. Producing numerous of ambient songs mixed with clean cut synthwave, his music style revolves around both the typical synthwave style as well as a strong hip-hop beat.
Cole debuted in 2016 with his single “Game Over!,” and it might just be his best song yet. In the music video, you will see that it does not actually include “Mario,” nor does it make any references to the game, but the song is clearly influenced by the game through the numerous of samples that are featured.
The solo, 21-year-old artist recently came out with his newest EP, back in May, called “Colors,” which is good but probably not as good as his 2017 album, “Pause.”
Here’s a collection of his most synthwavey sounds.
Last but not least, Home is the creator of a well-known song that has 16.5 million streams on Spotify. “Resonance” became a viral hit after it featured in numerous of popular videos on Vine. The song was heavily associated with the Simpsonwave internet phenomenon (hence, the unofficial “Simpsons” music video linked).
Oddly, this song has about eight times more streams than any other song of his. This is odd because all of his other songs are just as good. Even more odd, the Bandcamp URL for the artist page reads, “home96.bandcamp.com.” Could Windows96 be associated with Home?
It is probably just the birth year of the artist, Randy Goffe, but, from my research, his birthday is not posted anywhere, so let the conspiracy theory begin — that is, either Randy Goffe or Eduardo Gabriel is the creator of Windows 96, Home, Gudand and YVYY.
Either way, relax and enjoy the progressive style of another great synthwave artist.