Alone 1980 captures a certain kind of horror claustrophobia in their music. The Sweden-based imagined soundtrack provocateur builds sonic nightmares with vintage equipment, retro vibes, and a sense that you’ve stepped into some long lost video nasty on late night cable TV in the early 80s. Though the music varies from sweat-inducing panic to almost psychedelic calm, there’s always a hazy swath of dream-like lucidity that captures this multi-dimensional vastness.
I’ve been following Alone 1980 for a couple years now. While the genre of imagined soundtrack has been done(and done and done and done) and it seems anybody that buys a reasonably affordable synthesizer can take a crack at it, not just anybody can do it well. Alone 1980 does it well. Their work stems from and acknowledges the genre’s beginnings. They fall into the same class of heavy synth artist that laid that foundation; artists like Slasher Film Festival Strategy, Ogre, Pentagram Home Video, as well as contemporaries like Andy Fosberry, Rupert Lally, Correlations, and the rest of the Spun Out Sounds crew.
When done right, I liken the imagined soundtrack to classic early 70s Tangerine Dream and the best of those darkly-infused synth scores that soundtracked my horror-watching youth. That’s where Alone 1980 lies.
Since April Alone 1980 has been releasing a series of albums, titled simply Vol. 1, 2, and 3. The work follows similar vibes and familiar dark sonic paths as past releases like Humanity, Night Lights, The Unknown, Voyage, and Time. A mixed bag of sultry delights, ranging from sweaty slasher panic to dreamy escapism, these are a fine collection of everything that makes Alone 1980s work so special.
Vol. 1 opens with the dread-inducing “Minimal Death” and closes with the almost triumphant “Lost in the dark subconscious”. Two seemingly polar opposite vibes, yet make sense as bookends to this collection. What lies in-between are cuts like “The Undying Wizard”, “SUN(Fade into nothing)”, and “UFO Communication”, which all sound like chapters in some pulp-y sci-fi paperback from the late-50s. And it works.
Vol. 2 sort of dives into dungeon synth and RPG vibes. I can imagine hearing “Cemetery of Terror” playing something like Ghosts ‘n Goblins or Castlevania on the NES back in the day. Same with the brooding “Gargoyle”. There’s still moments of ethereal tones, like the buzzing “Paradise/Dystopia” and the almost Cliff Martinez-esque “Shatterbrain”. Vol. 2 is a claustrophobic trip.
Vol. 3 sort of sets itself a part. While still lingering horror vibes remain, there’s a bit more light here. “Out of body explosion” lies somewhere between Rob’s Maniac score and some lost OMD b-side. “Street Justice” has a gritty vibe, bringing to mind some 80s revenge flick while never sounding derivative. Alone 1980 always adds an element that surprises you. “Sunset Dream” could be end credits music to a lost 80s film, complete with a sense of neon-lit optimism. Of course “Seance” brings us back into the darkness with the woozy dread of an old Creature Feature. “Night Sky” returns us to a place of peaceful resignation.
Alone 1980 continues to make solid imagined soundtrack albums, while also making music that works as a conduit to other realms. Vol. 1-3 are the perfect mixed bag of sonic delights and shadowy music dread.