I’m sitting here listening to The Sunset City, the lost classic from 80s synth duo Turquoise Moon, and I get the feeling of a scorching West Coast sun burning its way into the back of my head. Beach that stretches for miles as palm trees sway in the fading light. Sidewalks once crowded with walkers, gawkers, skaters, and pushers, now just scattered shadows and questionable destinations ahead.
Turquoise Moon made this slick slice of summer heat and sultry synths back in 1985, but due to contract negotiations, record label shenanigans, and possibly shady connections to the Columbians, Terry Ferrello and Frank Heisenberg never saw the release of this exquisite masterstroke of 80s synth swagger and dance floor love. But thanks to an estate sale the master tapes were located in a Malibu storage locker in 2015, surprisingly intact. The Sunset City was then mastered by Andy Fosberry and is now available for the first time thanks to Spun Out Of Control.
What we have here is a step away from the late night sleaze of Turquoise Moon’s score work for Kyle Caruso’s Midnight Demon and Midnight Demon 2. The Sunset City could very well have been Ferrello and Heisenberg’s big break into the mainstream. Instead, it’s now a testament to what could have been. And what could have been was, and is, spectacular.
Call The Sunset City a lost album, a re-discovered future classic, or just a Turquoise Moon record, but make no mistake this album feels as relevant today as it would have in 1985. Mixing elements dance music, street culture, and bright synth scores of the neon decade, Turquoise Moon made an album to move you. From the crystalline shimmers of album opener “Skyscraper Moon” to the melancholy elegance of “Cherry Cola” to the languid funk of “Surface Streets”, the duo of Ferrello and Heisenberg hit that California recording studio ready to make a name for themselves. The production value is second to none here, going shoulder to shoulder with cats like Pete Smith, Daniel Lanois, and Rupert Hine. There’s a warmth to the recording, possibly due to Turquoise Moon still working in the analog world when in 1985 everyone was moving to the digital realm.
Something like “Marina Blue” brings to mind the lush film work of the duo’s work with Kyle Caruso, while “Broken City” brings to mind the work of modern artists like Hunter Complex. “Midnight Hearts” is contemplative and emotionally visceral, while album closer “The Neon Drive” has just the right amount of dance floor strut and synth pop persuasion to keep you locked in till the last note fades.
The Sunset City is a dizzying array deft sonic touches, hard electro grooves, and melodic power. It’s an exquisite slice of 80s synth musicality, California vibes, and a throwback to a time when two guys with a room full of synthesizers could easily rule the world of popular music. Though this album never found ears to hear it till 35 years after it was recorded, it still hits as hard as it would’ve during Reagan’s second term. Turquoise Moon lock in and connect. The Sunset City is a sun-drenched, synth-driven ode to lost dreams and second chances.
8.2 out of 10
‘The Sunset City’ is out 9/3/20 on Spun Out Of Control. Preorder it here.