There’s this overwhelming sense of nostalgia that comes over me as I listen to ALONE 1980s new album Sleepwalker. The album lingers in the same space as bands like Pentagram Home Video and Videodrones, meaning there’s lots of analog dread, 70s horror, and Gothic undertones throughout the album’s 12 tracks. But underneath the woozy VHS eeriness, there’s also a genuine sense of an 80s childhood. Not the bandwagon artists seemingly coming out of the woodwork every five minutes. All the canned synth that so many are finding their way to these days just seems hastily put together to ride the Stranger Things bandwagon to nowhere. ALONE 1980 captures the times and the vibes beautifully and in a genuine way. I don’t know anything about the artist behind ALONE 1980, but they have built a time machine for me to hop into with Sleepwalker. Back to the generation of latchkey kids, questionable movie rentals, and satanic panic. A time when horror films and long walks in the woods after school were ways to cope with the struggles of the outside world.
Yes, this album has the horror vibes. The imagined soundtrack thing with the woozy synths and creepy vibes. There’s plenty of that to go around. But what separates this album from others is the simplistic approach here. There’s no turns to techno beats or Giallo disco. It is purely artist and machine doing this sort of dance of the macabre with circuits, knobs, and emotional connection.
Something like opener “Present Day” could’ve opened a Boards of Canada album just as easily as a lo fi heavy synth record. There’s even a feeling of uplift in the synths here. Could this be some lost late 90s independent electronic record? The low growl of “Amusement Park” lets us know we’ve stumbled into some other realm, and that the uplift that greeted us at the door was merely a ruse. Late night chills abound, this track seethes with dread. “Who opened the coffin?” is a funhouse creepshow put to music, while “Halfway there” brings to mind Australia’s Night Terrors. “Hideout” has the vibe of one of those BoC interludes between tracks. .
Danish band Videodrones does something very similar to ALONE 1980. They merge the worlds of late-70s/early-80s horror scores with elements of experimental heavy synth music in a way to where you can’t tell where one stops and the other starts. It’s a glorious coming together of two musical worlds. Lucifer Rising-meets-Phaedra.
Title track “Sleepwalker” sounds like Vangelis working in darker corners. Dark and foreboding, with a hint of futurism thrown in. “Distant light” brings the musical journey to an end, with less dread and a sense of optimism.
Sleepwalker sits among many other albums with similar predilections to the world of synth soundtracks of the 80s. What makes ALONE 1980s album stand out is their simple approach to the music. There’s something quite inviting about the coming together of man and machine, and the ability to bend sound and circuits to their will. It’s an eerie and foreboding musical landscape that ALONE 1980 has built here, but it’s also an alluring one.
Sleepwalker is a great soundtrack to a late afternoon walk, or a seance. Your choice.
7.5 out of 10