SID64 - Sunset Waves

One of the most interesting things about synthwave as a genre is the way in which an artist’s unique experiences manifest in their music. It’s always immediately clear, for example, if an artist has experience in metal music or with scoring films. Certain traits appear in the songs. For SID64, that prior experience is interesting. Mastering tracks professionally at Preference Mastering, it’s clear that Charles Michaud had the endpoint of each song in mind as we wrote, recorded, and mixed the eight tracks on his EP Sunset Waves.

It’s difficult picking the best part of this release beyond saying “the first four tracks”. “Not A Dream” opens the album with a pulsing and deceptively interesting beat. It seems initially like a standard four-on-the-floor kick pattern with snares on every other beat, but there are sounds buried in the mix the enrich every aspect of the song. The song is an excellent representation of SID64’s skill in trading off between melodies. The main melodic hook of the song doesn’t last an entire measure and let’s the pulse of the bassline shine for just the right amount of time before adding another melody to trade off with. The second melody uses this extremely funky synth that pops up throughout the album and is one of the best aspects of the release, as well as one of its most defining characteristics.

Spoken word can be something of a mixed bag in synthwave, but the latter half of “A Message For You” uses it to tremendous effect. The majority of vocal synthwave is in English, and so when you hear the French plea of “Pourquoi?” in the song, it is refreshing and unlike much of the scene. Groove is added to the upbeat “Xpand at Night” that follows. If pressed, I would say it is the best song the album was the offer. There isn’t a single moment in the song that isn’t catchy and it just feels like a song where everything is exactly where it belongs, both compositionally and sonically. “My Dream With Tangerines” has the same upbeat groove and cohesive nature. There is always something strange and pleasant happening to latch onto, and the less-than-subtle reference to the influential electronic group Tangerine Dream is appreciated, as I believe our scene owes a lot to them.

“Gym O’Clock” transitions the album toward its conclusion. It’s full of positive energy and highly rhythmic bass fills. It occupies a space that feels like an intersection of Green Hill Zone and Interstellar 5555. “The Lost Theme” is the best song on the back half of the album and is the perfect choice for a closer. It has the same perfectly complementary melodies, subtle deviations from rhythmic expectations, funky synth, and upbeat mood that makes the best parts of this EP so good. It feels like a synthwave version of James Ferraro’s “Linden Dollars” with its unrelenting hooks and manic energy. It ends way faster than you might expect and makes three minutes feel like thirty seconds.

It’s worth noting that the CD is going to include some different mixes and completely different mastering than the digital release. SID64 states, “The music won't be leveled to what you find in digital platform today and the audio spectrum will be closer to what we used to hear in the 80's.” It’s going to be interesting to see how these great songs translate to a different mix.