Nostalgia is a beautiful liar. It makes us sadly long for the good times of yesteryear, while eclipsing the bad. And it is an even more deceitful beast when it’s not even your own.
Outrun music, a synth pop sub-genre dedicated to genuine 80’s sounds, does just that. Even if you have no memories of the 80s, this burgeoning genre tricks you into thinking you do, and further more, it usually tricks you into thinking these memories were amazing.
Unofficially founded by west coast Canadian producer Miami Nights 1984 and his label “Rosso Corsa Records”, Outrun derives its name from old school movie chase scenes and the electronic soundtracks associated with them (though this name can be somewhat misleading, as many Outrun songs are really laid back and sometimes referred to as Dreamwave).
Outrun is a highly addictive, painstakingly accurate nod to the music of the past and this first article is going to be an introduction to the essential tunes/artists of this growing sound.
Artist: Miami Nights 1984
Artist Page: soundcloud.com/miami-nights-1984
Song: “Elevator of Love”
This beauty of a tune, lead by a classic sounding synth that seems to stretch into infinite and immaculate arching transitions, features numerous catchy melodies and perfectly encapsulates the John Hughes soundtrack vibe that Miami Nights 1984 has said he’s often going for. If you like this tune, be sure to check out his “Early Summer EP”, you won’t be disappointed.
Artist Page: soundcloud.com/lazerhawk
Song: “Distress Signal”
Swedish producer Lazerhawk is no slouch on the boards. Everything about this tune, from the eager sounding beginning to the breathy background synths and funky solos is pitch perfect. The video, created by youtube user Nero77, only adds to the vaguely sad, beautifully retro feel of the song.
Artist Page: dadmusic.bandcamp.com
Song: “Stranger in a Strange Land”
Remember that beach house that Mel Gibson owned in the Lethal Weapon movies? In a perfect (imaginary) world, this is the song that would have played there every time love making (not sex) went down with the most smoking babes. Sensual stuff.
Artist: Alpha Boy
Artist Page: http://soundcloud.com/xibalba
Song: “Debbie’s Workout”
Though it’s meant to sound like old workout music (complete with a retro audio voiceover in the beginning), this tune could have been used in the beginning of a scuzzy but good 80s exploitation flick. The frenetic bass lead would sound perfect as the credits roll over some slummy Reagan era dystopia while a vigilante drives around town cleaning up the streets one bullet at a time. Then again, maybe it’s just a good workout track.
Artist Page: soundcloud.com/actrazer
This is one badass tune. Seriously. This is the type of music that plays in Robocop’s helmet all the time. The type of music that Cobra loads his Uzi to, or Terminator terminates to.
On a side note, ActRazer is Miami Nights 1984 producing under a different name. He uses the pseudonym for his darker stuff. Dude is a wizard.
Artist:MPM aka Multipac
Artist Page: www.last.fm/music/multipac
Song: “Hot Resort”
This song is a perfect example of the contagious nostalgia mentioned at the beginning of the article- almost like an auditory time machine. Everything from the arena rock sounding lead synth to the drums is so spot on accurate it could make you shudder.
Artist: Palm Highway Chase
Artist Page: palmhighwaychase.bandcamp.com
Here is another badass track. Listen to those drums in the intro- you know something big is going to happen. True to their name this is definitely chase music. It’s east to imagine a fierce Lambo evading the cops in slow-mo down a California highway while this track plays out of the tape deck. Beautiful.
Artist Page: imdaze.bandcamp.com
Song: “Tokyo 1984”
This tune bangs. It’s a little too slick and thumping to be considered Outrun, but DAZE absolutely kills it. The complexity might very well have you listening to this track several times in a row just to take in all the melodies.
Song: “Someone Else’s Ride”
A few years old and once again, too slick to be Outrun. Brilliant pop tune though- catchy as the black plague.
Ghosthustler member Alan Palomo later became the musical brains behind indie darlings, Neon Indian.