A new album from Sweden’s Alone 1980 is always something to look forward to. The imagined soundtrack/heavy synth one-man project digs deep into the woozy sounds and shadowy worlds of old school VHS horror. Those b-movies you’d find on the back wall of the video store in the mid-80s. The schlocky sci-fi, the blood-drenched splatter flicks, and the supernatural fare that made you scared to walk in the darkened hallway to your bedroom after the flick ended at 2am are the inspirations behind the work of Alone 1980.
There’s been a constant flow of releases since 2018, making Alone 1980 a prolific artist. Their last release was in February of this year. Humanity was sort of this galactic tale told in lush analog tones and hazy sonics. We now have The Unknown, a mixture of hopeful, lilting melodies and dark, brooding dread. Sort of the perfect soundtrack for these current times. One minute hopeful, the next wondering when the sky will rain blood. The Unknown is the perfect score for our current existential crisis.
Me describing The Unknown from song to song isn’t really the best way to experience and understand the aural world of Alone 1980. You have to just dive in. You have to just step into that sensory deprivation tank, float in the darkness, and wait for the psilocybin to kick in. Once it does, you regress, progress, and deep dive into some serious psychic trauma. Hopefully you step out healed or advanced in some way. The Unknown is that deep, dark epsom salt bath waiting to crack your brain open and show you those things you hide in your subconscious.
There’s lots of different vibes and emotional trips here. From the dread of shadows and the doom of a moss-covered tomb, to the uplift of synth-created warmth like a circuital-driven sunrise, there’s much to love here. I find myself hitting the repeat button on the overwhelmingly gorgeous “Finders keepers”, bringing to mind the neon 80s sheen of Dixon and Stein. “Evil eyes” is wonderfully woozy. Gauzy smiles and the numbness of waking from surgery envelopes you. You can switch gears up a bit with “Vampires, weapons, and violence” if you’re wanting the feeling of perspiration trickling down your back. Aural anxiety at its finest. “Darker times” sounds like a funeral service in outer space. It’s like Phantasm-meets-House By The Cemetery.
I also love the one-two punch of “Noiseferatu” and “Max Von Cyborg”. Dark, somber tones and some excellent fun with song names. Can’t go wrong with that. And title track “The unknown” sounds like Boards of Canada scoring Lamberto Bava. Who wouldn’t love that?
If you’re looking for a deep dive into old school horror soundtrack vibes then you’ve come to the right place. I love Alone 1980. They hit all the woozy synth goodness, but make it very much their own.The Unknown is yet another stellar deep dive into analog dread and circuital melodies.