It’s no small secret that electronic musicians have a very special place in their hearts for the music of the 80’s. For good reason too, the decade saw the first widespread use of synthesizers and drum machines in popular music as well as an intense infatuation with all things ‘futuristic.’ Today the most lasting influences tend to be the likes of Micheal Jackson (read: Quincy Jones) and British New Wave artists. But one often over looked musical aesthetic of the 80’s has been French Synth Wave. In the early 80’s a number of influences impressed themselves upon French pop musicians. The electronic experiments of pioneers such as Jean Jacques Perrey and Jean Michel Jarre, as well as the popularity of the new fangled dance music Italo-Disco, resulted in a new breed of French pop. Obsessed with space, and often mistaken for the faster, more dance oriented Space Disco, French Synth Wave was a sublime combination of thick arpeggios, spaced out pads and trebly 80’s drum machines.
Today on the west cost of France there is a re-birth of this lost music. The Valerie collective is a group of electronic musicians who literally seem to be trying to make music for aliens. Their early efforts found a huge audience in the 80’s obsessed blog-0-sphere, and have even begun to create imitators. Their own blog, linked above, is a verifiable treasure trove of old school electronic tracks and modern efforts to recreate that same feeling of drifting through space on a laser. Members of the Valerie collective include, College, Anoorak, The Outrunners, Maethelvin and Minitel Rose. Other artists associated with Valerie are Russ Chimes and Stephen Falken, and the new kids on the block include Parallels, Altair Nouveau, DaroC, 7he Myriads, and Adeyhawke.
Fred Falke and Lifelike’s most recent remixes show a good deal of influence from the Valerie aesthetic, prompting me to try and integrate some of there tricks into my toolkit. The nice thing about the style is that with a decent analog synth plug-in, and a good phasor the synths are pretty easy to replicate. The harder part is the drums. For this I wound up scouring the internet for samples of old Yamaha drum machines. What I found was the largest collection of drum machine samples I’ve ever seen, all for free. Feel the joy. The Yamaha RX-5 is especially good, with wet samples put through a nice variety of reverbs.
Now here’s some treats, from my bedroom to yours.
Teenage Color (Russ Chimes Remix) – College
Nightdrive With You – Anoorak
Hypnotic – DaroC
Shadow of the Wind – Stephen Falken
Skyscraped – Adeyhawke