AudioHammock Podcast #80 - Exploring Retrowave, Chillwave, and Ambient Electronic Music

AudioHammock releases podcasts to keep you up to date on the latest music, albums, and festivals concerning music you like. We also feature a ton of new music, primarily from the Pacific Northwest. Android users can can subscribe via Stitcher, BeyondPod, or any other RSS feed podcast device. You can also find us on iTunes.Take AudioHammock on the go!

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The Resurgance of Synthwave and Retrowave

With shows and movies like Stranger Things and Blade Runner 2049 becoming seen as more of a mainstream insterest, the synthwave and retrowave electronic subgenres have seen a recent spike of interest and we're all for it. Known for sweeping crescendos, inclusion of futeristic and cyberpunk themes, and an often nostalgic nod to the '80s, synthwave is back and retrowave (new synthwave) is at the forefront. Retrowave can be thought of as a futeristic alteration of the sythwave/new wave that was popular in the '80s but with a bit more tenaticy and central dystopian themes. For anyone who has enjoyed the film Drive, loved the new Blade Runner, or found themselves listening to the Stranger Things theme song over and over again, well then this first electronic duo in Episode 80 is for you....

The Midnight - Nocturnal

Genre: Retrowave
Released: October 17th, 2017
Available digitally on Bandcamp and Spotify
Review by Anthony Saia

“New retro wave” is such a better qualifier for what is contained on this short but sweet synth / sax masterpiece. The Midnight also cite a Japanese term “mono no aware.” According to the duo, “it means basically, the sad beauty of seeing time pass – the aching awareness of impermanence. These are the days that we will return to one day in the future only in memories.” What is so mind-blowing about this existential statement is that it comes forth so much in the music.

Tracks like the lead song “Shadows,” “Collateral,” and “River of Darkness” (featuring Timecop1983) hearken back to the past, while carrying the 80s synthwave aesthetic into the present and future. The melodies on these songs, and others on the EP allow the listener to reminisce about days gone by while hearing something “new” in the here and now. While all aforementioned tracks are standouts on the record, every song, arrangement, and drum hit is stellar.

Ultimately, nothing says rad synth and film like Roland Electric Drums, fat synth lines, and airy saxophone. The Midnight are top tier for the genre. If you are a fan of music from films like Tron, Blade Runner, or anything else that John Carpenter, Vangelis, et. al have touched – this is absolutely for you.

Exploring Chillwave with Monster Rally

Genre: Chillwave, Pyschedelic Pop, Pop Exotica
Released: December 15th, 2017
Available for vinyl preorder on Gold Robot Records

Chillwave is an electronic subgenre that emerged in the mid to late part of last decade. Known for "chill" and vibrant sounds, the music itself can be thought of as pop samples and instrumentation that evoke a sense of lounging, be it at the beach, or in a bedroom studying. Chillwave peaked rather quickly however due to it being a subgenre that was seen by some as nothing but blatant copyright infringement of pop songs and plunderphonics. The thinning of the herd worked wonders for those who remained however as it weeded out the pretenders and soundcloud remix maybes. Today, true lo-fi psychedelic surf chillwave artists like Monster Rally prove the microgenre has merit and AudioHammock was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of Ted Feighan's (Monster Rally) upcoming album Flowering Jungle which is out December 15th on Gold Robot Records.

Just one listen to Monster Rally's soundscapes will whisk you away to tropical islands, ocreanfront cabanas, and have you searching for your summer wear. Check out the podcast for an exclusive sneak peak at the new album due out next month!

Ambient Music with Teen Daze

Genre: Ambient
Released: November 10th, 2017
Available on vinyl at Bandcamp and streaming on Spotify

Ambient can be thought of as music that puts effort and focus into atmosphere as opposed to rhythm and sound. A perfect example of that is Teen Daze's latest album Themes for a New Earth. Actually the second album released by the British Columbia based electronic artist this year, Themes for a New Earth is a companion LP to Themes for a Dying Earth which was released this past Febuary. As the name might hint at, the first LP was a bit of a somber and despondent affair that fit a bevy of pessimistic and anxiety ridden moods. As horrible as that looks on text, aurally it was anything but as Teen Daze (real name Jamison Isaak), brought a unique atmospheric sound that managed to exude only the kind of atmosphere that contemplation or solace in naure can imbue in one's spirit. Flash forward to now with Themes for a New Earth and the atmosphere rings true but with much more brighter guitar tones and a sense of optimism. The two albums pair and play off one another nicely and for anyone who isn't experiences with ambient music that is looking for a great place to start, these two albums are our current recommendations.

Podcast Episode Timestamps

  • Discussion on The Midnight, their album Nocturnal, and synthwave, retrowave, and cyberpunk: Start
  • Previewing Monster Rally's new chillwave album: 23:56
  • Teendaze and Ambient and IDM music: 40:00
  • Art-rock with electronic textures with art-rockers Django Django: 58:10
  • Outro track: The Midnight - "Noctural" 1:04:38

Russ Bashaw

Founder, Owner

Russ Bashaw founded AudioHammock in the summer of 2013 and continues to be an active contributor and editor. In addition to writing the occasional review Russ is also one of the hosts of the AudioHammock Podcast. Follow Russ on Instagram @russba1 or email him at