Tales from the Keybed: June 2014

This month was looking a little lean for synth fans, and I was just about to put my virtual pen away when I read the news that I was waiting for… Anamanaguchi have a new single!

Cue worldwide celebrations as a thousand neon fireworks erupt whilst unicorns dance on technicolour clouds! The US chiptune foursome return with ‘Pop It’, a sickly sweet burst of J-pop vocals and Nintendo synth sounds that concludes with an absolute sugar rush of a key change that nobody else seems to do these days! It’s undeniably cute, in a way that makes even Avril Lavigne’s ‘Hello Kitty’ seem profound, and will certainly divide opinion but the sheer joyful brilliance will find fans in anyone who laments the days when video game music sounded like it was actually made on a Gameboy. Remixes come from Shirobon, who delivers a Kitsuné-style electro makeover, and GERALD, who retains all of the blips and bloops of the original with glitchy beats and choppy hooks. My favourite version though is the truly irresistible ABSRDST mix, which scores extra points for including a whole section of quotes from Super Smash Bros! The original and remixes are all available for free download from the band’s SoundCloud.

Another release that tickled my synth senses this month was Tom Vek’s new album Luck. The eclectic indie-electro pioneer returns with his third full-length record, which is packed with his trademark disco-punk drums, retro keyboard textures, and deadpan vocals. Lead single ‘Sherman (Animals In The Jungle)’ kicks off with striking synth stabs and Bloc Party-style guitar riffs, underpinned with dirty bass and ambiguous lyrics. There’s an almost drum and bass feel to the beats, but with live instrumentation that will appeal to people who aren’t fans of electronic dance music. Other highlights of the album include the bluesy bounce of ‘Broke’, filthy half-time bass monster ‘A Mistake’, and the 80’s synth riffery in closer ‘Let’s Pray’.

This month’s keytar hero destroyed my replay button on YouTube. Theremin Hero – who is fully justifying the hero title – has produced an 8-bit chiptune version of the Game Of Thrones theme played on a custom NESKeytar, which is a cross between the Nintendo console, a Guitar Hero controller and a toy keyboard! The video even features MIDI-controlled lasers for extra cool points. Quite simply this man owns the internetz for synth fans right now and I highly recommend heading over to his YouTube channel now to check it out! Or, you know, by clicking the video below.