I’ve got a special treat for this week’s Synthwave Sunday post. Not only am I reviewing the new, and yet to be released (editor’s note, April 10th, IT’S OUT! You can buy it HERE) Pandemonium EP by Timestalker, we also have an exclusive interview! The Swiss synthwave genius has really outdone himself with this new EP and I have to say he’s been one of the friendliest artists I’ve had the pleasure of talking to here at Echosynthetic. Who wants some Pandemonium? Ready or not, let’s dive in!
The Beyond welcomes you to the EP with a pensive synth intro, but don’t be fooled…before you know it, an ominous brass chorus heralds in the true depth of the track. A fast paced beat drives the song forward, hurtling as if chased, and who knows…maybe we are! There’s a great breakdown just past halfway through that I really enjoyed, and honestly something not enough synthwave artists take advantage of. Enter the Crypt is a well layered, slow burn of a track that builds on itself layer after layer. Once you hit the mid point the song really takes off. I’d like to mention at this point that Timestalker has some of the best hooks on the scene on tap with this EP. The harmonies over the bass line in this song are truly inspired stuff.
Check out The Beyond! Your first chance to hear new music from Timestalker!
Unholy Dominion is going to have you stopping to make sure that you didn’t accidentally switch over to a new track by GosT. This track explores the depths with one hand while the other is reaching for the sky. Just when you think you’re clear of the danger, here come the ominous horns from Hell. Skillfully placed, they tie together the tracks in the EP and help the work feel like a whole story. Spellbound is another fast paced track with a synthline that demands head movement. It’s a well produced, well layered piece of work that I wanted to repeat as soon as it was over. Pray for Daylight is another song that traps you into thinking that maybe, just maybe, daylight is truly ahead. It hits a point of near madness in the middle, with diving synths and controlled chaos, only to emerge sane on the other side.
Pandemonium closes out the EP and it is everything that the name of the song implies. It’s a near nine minute long magnum opus of a track that feels like you’re traveling on a path that stands on the edge of an abyss. As the track is winding to its ominous close you’re treated to a Dimi Kaye guitar solo that has to be heard to understand. I can’t think of a better way to close out this magnificent release.
As if all that wasn’t enough, now we get to talk to Timestalker about the release, his roots in music, and even more important….Batman or Superman?
Echosynthetic: What is the driving force behind Timestalker?
Timestalker: Just a guy who wants to share his passion for music. I always dreamt of holding a physical copy of my own music in my hands, that already came true. People talking about my music, giving me positive or constructive feedback, valuing it enough to pay for it, those are the reasons why I make music.
Echosynthetic: You’ve got new music coming out soon. What can you tell us about it?
Timestalker: It will be six songs like the first EP, but I took more time to write , arrange and finish them this time. I always added something new or corrected some sounds I didn’t like. Now, I’m quite happy with the result. When I listen to my first songs there’s often times some sort of “stagnation” where some parts are played a bit too long and offer nothing new for quite some time, I really tried to improve that on the new songs, to keep things interesting and unforeseeable.
The songs are darker and heavier in my opinion, kinda abandoning the neon and sci-fi theme towards a more occult, metal type of style. I also wanted to show the change in the cover artwork by changing the color palette and do something that yet wasn’t done over and over in the scene.
I think my influences are better reflected in the new bunch of songs. Some experimentation with brass instruments and a guitar solo from Dimi Kaye at the very end of the EP are some of the highlights.
Volkor X did the mastering for it. I really liked his work for Electric Dragon so I contacted him. Again, he did a splendid job and gave the songs a big boost sonically. I’m glad I chose him!
Echosynthetic: What got you started in synthwave?
Timestalker: My very first contact with the scene was in 2014 I think, when Electric Youth showed up as a suggestion on an 80s music video I watched. I also listened to some songs by MegaDrive. But I wasn’t aware at that point that there was a whole movement of that style of music. Then about a year later I listened to these songs again and stumbled upon the NewRetroWave channel. That’s when I got interested in all these bands and began having contact with some musicians, getting in groups and quickly wanted to write some own material.
In early 2016 I released my very first song on Soundcloud called “Firestarter”. At that time I was also in contact with Jeppe Hasseriis, better known as Dynatron. He was kind enough tp share my song on his Facebook and Twitter page which gave my account a huge boost, my followers increased from about 10 at that point to 50 in one evening. The feedback the people gave me was incredible and uplifting for me and a big motivation to keep going and write some more music.
Echosynthetic: How do you record your music?
Timestalker: I still produce all of my stuff in Garageband on my tablet. The possibilities and different synthesizer and instruments are limited but that keeps me focused on the music. I once tried Logic at a friend’s place and quickly got lost in the endless variety of instruments. Less is sometimes more, I guess. But at one point I plan to get a better DAW than Garageband for sure.
Echosynthetic: Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?
Timestalker: There are lots of inspirations for me. Only recently I started listening to actual 80’s music again, a-ha, Tears For Fears, Paul Young, that stuff. Most of their songs have these very distinctive synth hooks that stay in your head forever. As there’s no singing in my songs I also try to include some catchy melodies to keep the sound memorable.
Another big influence are the different kinds of metal I listen to. The chord progressions, the drum work, the overall sound, everything is very similar to metal music. Even the cover artwork looks pretty metal, at least for me.
When the idea for the artwork was still a vision of me, I had “Don’t Break The Oath” by Mercyful Fate in mind. It had to be something with fire and devil horns. Now the artwork is kinda like a small homage to that milestone in metal music. Credit to Bo Bradshaw who did an outstanding job br!
At this point I would also like to speak out my admiration for Carpenter Brut, as he is one of the most consistent artists of the genre, music- and aesthetic-wise. His videos, the early SilverStrain ones as well as Turbo Killer, his logo, the sound that evolved over his three Eps. And last but not least, the fact that he’s touring all over the world.
Echosynthetic: What do you do when you aren’t making music?
Timestalker: I write for a local newspaper until the end of March, then changing to another newspaper here in Switzerland. In September I will start studying journalism and how it will change in the future with all its new forms. I hope there will still be some time to write new tunes in the near future.
I also quite regularly grab some beers with friends, play dart or table soccer. I have a weak spot for movies, which also serve as influences of course. The brilliant, but also the really bad ones. Yesterday I discovered a flick called “Microwave Massacre”, imagine!
Echosynthetic: Speaking of music…your music is very polished. I’m guessing you’ve got a musical background?
Timestalker: I play guitar and drums and listen and study tons of different music types. My feeling for new melodies and song ideas are trained by myself, sometimes I get really lucky that everything fits together so well. And then there are times where I have to scratch a whole song as it turned out I just heard it somewhere in another song and forgot about it. Hard times!
Echosynthetic: Batman or Superman?
Timestalker: Batman, no doubt. He’s the badass one, he’s masked and surrounds himself with mystery. The themes and stories are also much darker than those of Superman. I guess many synthwave artists are kinda influenced by the aesthetic of Gotham City and the stories in general. Also the first Batman movie from 1989 and “The Dark Knight” are two of my favourite superhero movies ever done along with Watchmen. I just love Christian Bale as Batman, second best role after Patrick Bateman. “You like Huey Lewis & The News?” Haha, classic!
Echosynthetic: Favorite 90’s jam? 80’s is too easy.
Timestalker: I think if you asked for my favourite 80s jam that would have been way harder as there are so many. But for the 90s I think that would be “Left Hand Path” by Entombed. That album formed a whole generation of death metal bands in Sweden and later all over the world with that very distinctive buzzsaw guitar-sound. They also were one of the first bands to include synthesizer in death metal, and they did it well.
I often hear people say “Music ended in ‘89” and stuff like that. Those are very ignorant and dumb things to say as there clearly was great music through all the years until today. Only because it’s not the mainstream standard today and served on a silver plate it doesn’t mean there aren’t great musicians out there.
Echosynthetic: What does the future hold for Timestalker?
Timestalker: I hope there’s an opportunity to play some first concerts, but as of now I wasn’t really ready for that. I plan to do videos for each song I play, but that takes time.
I plan to bring “Pandemonium” out on vinyl, that’s just an idea at the moment. Maybe there will be more infos on that soon.
And of course, I’ll start writing new material soon.