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top10 2019 synthOn the Synth scene in 2019 everything was as usual: many releases with high-quality sound, interesting new projects appeared and the way of many musicians of creating music is becoming more and more sophisticated, ornate and not regular. As usual grandees continue to parasitize on their already irritating sound, but old forgotten and suddenly returned projects sometimes surprise with new features and fresh sound. In general, the Synth scene has been on the same level for several years and produces quite a good number of good albums a year.

Covered genres: Synth Pop, Future Pop, Electro Pop, Electro Clash, Synth Rock

10. Acretongue - ‘Ghost Nocturne’ (Synth Pop, Electro, Future Pop | Dependent, Republic of South Africa)

Another return to the scene after a long break is completed. The South African project ACRETONGUE was formed in the mid-00s by Nico as the only participant. After wandering around the labels in the hope of releasing a debut album Nico eventually released the album on his own. His new work is called ‘Ghost Nocturne’ and came out after a break of 8 years. Nico is known to lovers of synthetic and Post-Industrial music with ornate atmospheric compositions using many electronic genres of music from Synth Pop and Future Pop to Electro Industrial and EBM. The new album is made in all those mentioned genres based on Synth scene. There are no innovative revelations on the album, but everything is done professionally and efficiently. There are also, if not hits, so memorable compositions worthy of not only attention, but also a place in the player.

09. Culture Kultür - ‘Humanity’ (Future Pop | Caustic Records, Spain)

The classic Future Pop from CULTURE KULTÜR is back after nine years of silence. Spanish musicians are rooted in EBM in the early 90s. That’s how they started later becoming one of the acts of the first wave of Future Pop genre in Europe. The new work turned out to be not so energetic and rhythmic, but became more melancholic and melodic. There are no many vivid thrillers and the influence of Post-Industrial music. However, the composing abilities, the sound of the mid-tempo Future Pop and Salva’s recognizable vocals did their job. The album takes the listeners to 00s. There are a couple of bright hits on the album and in total the release can be called smooth and high-quality material for Future Pop lovers.

08. Electric City Cowboys - ‘Superstar’ (Electro Pop | Sweden, Spinnup)

The project ELECTRIC CITY COWBOYS was formed in the middle of 10s in Sweden. From the first release of 2014 their music showed the direction towards the aesthetics of the 80s and 90s. Early works were drowned in 80s by the atmosphere and were clearly influenced by 90s Eurodance music. In 2019 their debut full-length album with the simple name ‘Superstar’ and a quite usual and not attractive cover was released. However, the content does not match the wrapper at all. This is a very peppy and cheery Electro Pop reminding a bit the works of the British SPRAY and other Swedes EMMON and DUAL DENSITY with male vocals (one track is made with a guest female singer Mia Milanen). Very groovy music. With each composition a new part of the body begins to move in such a way that in the end without realizing I just danced on the chair doing my things and listening to ELECTRIC CITY COWBOYS. In some tracks the influence of disco is noticeable, somewhere the Eurodance rules the track, somewhere you can hear Synth Wave. The mastering for this whole thing was done by Hans Olsson from UNIVERSAL POPLAB, so the sound was more synthetic compared to earlier releases. Great debut and a very cool album.

07. Interface - ‘Where All Roads Lead’ (Future Pop | USA, Distortion Productions)

Eric Eldredge from New York created the project INTERFACE in 1993, but the debut on the scene took place only in 1999 with a full-length album. At the beginning of his musical life the project produced a kind of a chaotic and even monotonous Electro-Industrial, however, already from the second album, Eric and colleagues went into a more melodic sound, playing the Future Pop of the beginning of the 00s with a slight touch of EBM. After that the project signed the contract with the label Nilaihah Records and became one of the leading artists there. Musically Eric improved his skills in the Future Pop genre and with each next album the material was more and more holistic and formed. In the middle of the 10s Nilaihah Records label ceased to function, although the label was not officially announced defunct. In 2018 INTERFACE released a compilation of remixes and unreleased versions for the second album material and in 2019 returned with a new full-length album after six years of silence. ‘Where All Roads Lead’ was released on the relatively young, but already kicking label Distortion Productions, created by Jim from REIN[FORCED].

The album is made in the very Future Pop of 00s without modern trendy features with simple melodies, classic vocals for the genre and rhythmic danceable tracks. Someone may say ,that the release is 20 years late, but now is the time when musicians try to be different and try to create “something new” by adding new genres, new sounds and new elements, the classic sound in different genres is agonizing, not to mention about high-quality classic sound. INTERFACE sometimes uses modern features here and there, but there are few of them and they are harmoniously interwoven, so the album does not consist only of such features and the overall sound is going back to 00s with the atmosphere of that time. If this album was released in 2003 or 2004, it would become a bomb. Now this is not a bomb, but high-quality well-composed material with many hits and catchy tracks.

06. Iris - ‘Six’ (Synth Pop | USA, Dependent)

The new work of the respected and well-known American synth-project IRIS is called ‘Six’ and became the sixth in the discography of the project. The project was formed in 1993 and released its first full-length work in 1999. IRIS is rightfully considered one of the main acts of the American Synth Pop music and one of the pioneers of this genre on the continent. The previous work of the Americans was released in 2014, so fans of the American Synth Pop were waiting for new material too long. But these five years were worth the wait. 11 new compositions in classic synth sound with the significant recognizable IRIS vocals are simple and easy to listen to and few hits and soft catchy songs do not let you get bored with music at a good professional level of mixing and mastering with multi-layered sound. ‘Six’ is a good work, but it will not become the best in Iris discography and cannot be considered as super-innovative for the synth scene in total, but it will take its place in history and it will be quite high.

05. Blaqk Audio - ‘Only Things We Love’ (Synth Pop | USA, BMG Rights Management)

In the middle of 00s David and Jade from the Pop Punk project AFI created BLAQK AUDIO and blew up the synth-scene with their debut album so hard, that their debut was remembered for a long time. Then came two high-quality, but rather ordinary two albums, which were well received, but were not repeatedly listened to after the initial acquaintance. In 2019 the American duo released their fourth work entitled ‘Only Things We Love’, which before the listening did not raise any hope to become a masterpiece. High-quality material with hits, of course, was expected, but in the end the duo released an album with excellent material, hits and catchy songs, excellent sound and the unique charm of BLAQK AUDIO. This work of Americans is comparable to their debut. Cool modern Synth without extraordinary inventions. Sometimes too poppy, sometimes too sweet, sometimes too lyrical, but always high-quality and full of energy. The only difference on the new album was a couple of songs that in structure reminds AFI and one of them almost completely sounds in the style of their main project. I hope in the future BLAQK AUDIO will not turn into a more electronic version of AFI. Time will tell. In the meantime, you can enjoy the powerful great new album.

04. Scintilla Anima - ‘Black’ (Synth Pop | Germany, Timezone)

The German Synth project SCINTILLA ANIMA was formed in the middle of 10s. Their first recordings were released in 2016 and the first full-length album of Germans called ‘Black’ was released in 2019. Musicians hide their faces behind the masks and real names - behind pseudonyms, which makes their music even more mysterious. However, this mystery is present not only in the visual surroundings, but also in the musical component. The trio creates a multi-layered emotional Synth Pop with many different vocal manners of performance, including whispering, classic male vocals, more Pop vocals, female voice and much more. The musical part is also very diverse. SCINTILLA ANIMA music includes the old school sound combined with modern technologies and modern trends of synth music mixed even with a gentle touch of the alternative music and Synth Rock. This work can be clearly called one of the most innovative on the Synth scene in the last probably five years. Very strong debut. The album has rhythmic hits and slow ballads. All these sounds are put together and sound so harmoniously that even the rough are perceived smoothly as part of something grandiose. Maybe it is. Great job.

03. The Anix - ‘Hologram’ (Synth Rock | USA, FiXT)

In 2018 the album ‘Shadow_Movement’ of the America project THE ANIX was ranked 10th in the top 10 releases of the Synth scene. In fact, everything that was written in the review there can be pasted here with additions. The new work of THE ANIX turned out to be more diverse stylistically. To Synth Rock, which has become closer to Alternative Rock, where guitars do not clog electronics, and electronics do not block other components, elements of Synth Wave and elements of other electronic genres were added. The hits became more memorable and the overall sound seemed to have reached a new level compared to the previous album. The sound in technical terms is made at the highest level. THE ANIX’s new work is definitely better than the previous one, although it turned out to be more alternative and mainstream. Therefore, it deserves a place in the top five. Only few artists manage to release two strong albums in a row. Recently, some performers of the dark scene are succeeded to do so. THE ANIX are some of them. Bravo!

02. Kontrast - ‘Unaufhaltsam’ (Synth Pop, Electro | Germany, Danse Macabre)

In 1992 in Germany the act KONTRAST was formed. It appeared in the golden period of Synth Pop music, but the German formation released its debut album only in 2002. Then it sounded like a rather experimental Synth Pop with elements of different genres of electronic and Post-Industrial music and the obvious influence of KRAFTWERK. The second album has attracted the attention of producers and labels and after the third album the Germans gained popularity. Their compositions hung on the top positions of the German alternative and electronic charts and on YouTube gained a lot of views. In 2019 the musicians released a new album called ‘Unaufhaltsam’ recorded, as written on their page, in winter isolation in the northern summer village cottage in Germany. This is all the same unusual diverse synth with German lyrics and leading male vocals with periodic female singing. On the new album you can hear dancing rhythmic tracks as well as lyrical ballads, both classic Synth Pop tunes and various experiments with Rock and other electronics. Non-standard features, unexpected sounds, catchy melodies, different vocals, manner of performance and unique atmosphere. KONTRAST is surprising, as always. Their albums were never boring to listen to and the hitty nature of this work jumps it to the highest position in the synth scene top.

01. A Spell Inside - ‘Masterplan’ (Synth Pop, Future Pop | Germany, Scanner)

The German project A SPELL INSIDE was formed in the late 80s and in 1996 released the first full-length work. In 2004 the Germans moved to the known label Scanner, where they are still publishing their albums. In 2019 the project released new material after almost five years of silence. The work of A SPELL INSIDE has always had its own style and sound with multi-layered mechanics and dance rhythms. The new work is made in the usual inherent style in combination of Synth Pop and Future Pop. Good easy-listened compositions with hit motifs settle in memory quite quickly and stay there for a long time. Of course, there are also regular standard tracks, but they are also made in the recognizable A SPELL INSIDE style, and there are also few of them. There are dance pieces for dancefloors and mid-tempo lyric ballads. The project did not come up with anything new and innovative, but did the good known synth music at a very high level with high-quality sound and many hits.


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