Alright recruit, let me introduce you to your partner, XENNON:
While of British origin, XENNON patrols his beat in Tokyo, Japan. A producer and a music teacher, he is heavily influenced by the synthesizers and sounds of the '80s. He aims to deliver music that not only takes us all back in time, but that also mixes in modern and contemporary sounds that appeal to a wider audience. His track "Flashback to Holly" already has over 62,000 streams on Spotify. Most notably, he created the "Synthwave Sounds" playlist on Spotify that now has over 34,000 followers. This amazing playlist created massive statistical jumps for all the artists featured on it. Everybody wins!!!!
Time to start our patrol with the "Miami Cop" album:
"Miami Cop" released digitally on September 10th, 2019. XENNON's debut album contains 8 songs, all telling the story of the main character Jack Lancer and his journey through an alternate '80s cyberpunk version of Miami. Listeners can visit XENNON's website to follow the stories and bios of the characters featured in this release. The album was mastered by Pete Maher, whose clients include U2, Nine Inch Nails, Katy Perry, Depeche Mode, and many more. The artwork was done by Travis Wright (https://www.artstation.com/neechmonkey). Unbeknownst to me until recently, many of the voice overs in the songs were provided from talented members of Neon Arcadia. You have to love this synth community.
Let me present the 8 tracks on this really cool storied album:
"Miami Beach Chase" - Starting with the sound of seagulls and beaches, then a brief transition through what reminds ever so slightly of a Billy Ocean tune, this track eases into a speedy pursuit melody with XENNON's vocals providing great accompaniment to great chords with a nice 16-bit melody.
“Flashback to Holly” - This tune was released as a single earlier in the year (also graciously featured on The State of Synth - Completely Mental Volume 1 charity album for mental health). Starting with a nice chord build and dropping into a wonderful catchy melody, it features XENNON's vocals once again pounding out an anthem with filters giving it depth. This track is so addictive and memorable. The track refers to Holly Lancer, Jack's ex-wife.
“A New Enemy” - Starting atmospheric and smooth, at 0:32 it drops into a super cool theme with a neat bass, perfect to introduce the antagonist (Baron Cleeth) in our story. Once again, XENNON's vocals kick in telling a great story from the point of view our main character.
“The Visit (feat. Allie)” - Upbeat from the start, this track is resplendent with high notes and optimistic synths, yet if you listen to the lyrics, I'm pretty sure Allie the vocalist is singing from the point of view of Holly Lancer and her beef with her ex-husband. This song has a pop sound going on, yet the '80s style synths keep it grounded in our retro adventure.
“The Broken Man” - Crazy twisted synth sounds right out of a sci-fi from the '70s start this song off. The first thing that jumps to mind is the movie Zardoz. The song transitions to more classical synthwave with a driving beat outlining a rushed mission to tackle the antagonist. The song is about our hero Jack, how his life is a mess, and this song (7:33 long) takes us through the transition from near failure to soaring hope and determination. Listen to this song in it's entirety...what a trip!
“The Montage” - Continuing the story from the last song, this highly upbeat melody is the perfect vibe to imagine our hero getting his shit together, and finding out more about Baron Cleeth. I swear, the beginning reminds me of Michael Jackson's "Beat Eat". XENNON's vocals once again provide the story to this speedy tune (as the title suggests, this is fit for a montage). The lyrics are about Jack's fog being lifted, a new man, ready to take back his life, take on the bad guys, and realizing he must make amends with his estranged wife Holly. This track is by far one of the best on the album.
“The Letter” - Here we have Holly reading the letter left for her from Jack. The lyrics are perfect, with XENNON hitting some high falsettos to most likely represent Holly mouthing the words. Once again, an upbeat song outlining hope and rebirth. It ends with a cool modulated synth giving us a climax to Jack's enthusiasm and determination.
“The Raid” - The last song on the album starts out with quiet suspense, modded bells, crowd noises, and police vehicles. At over eight minutes long, this is one great ending to the album. Our heroes have the villain surrounded as per the sampled megaphone vocals. It then drops into a thrilling beat with euphoric melodies. Baron Cleeth's voice yells out his defiance throughout the song. It switches from upbeat to foreboding, embodying the battle unraveling before us. Towards the end, it climaxes with some of the most heroic and rewarding sounds I've ever heard. Jack has saved the day, all ends well, the credits can roll as the song ends.
Every song on this album tells a story, and you can find that story here, though frankly, XENNON's music and vocals take you on a trip without needing to reference what's going on. This gentleman has skill, and he's captured an entire universe here replete with heroes, villains, and the supporting cast. The music harks back to late '80s or early '90s cop movies, and his skills with chords, effects, and phrasing is outstanding. I (and many of us in the synthwave scene) have been waiting anxiously for this album, and I can say with complete confidence, it does not disappoint.
Follow and support XENNON at the links below: