The question I get more than anything else regarding Echosynthetic is, “What is synthwave?” It’s an easy question without a clear cut answer. Synthwave is a lot of different things, and honestly, you might get a different person depending on who you ask. For me it’s modern synth based music that is inspired by nostalgia, typically the 80’s, but you find early 90’s dance and 70’s Italo Disco influences as well. It doesn’t even have to be a direct influence from music…it can be an aesthetic or a feeling. It truly depends on the artist creating the music, which is honestly why synthwave is one of the most exciting genres to cover! My track of the week shows that you can find the synthwaviest of tracks in the most unlikely places. For those of you in the scene, would you have ever thought Chicago under the category of synthwave influences? No? Me either. We were both wrong!
I present to you We Can Stop the Hurtin’ which can be found on Chicago’s best selling (7 times platinum!) smash album, Chicago 17. It also appeared as the b-side for Along Came A Woman. Having been a long time fan of Chicago for practically my entire life it was fun to listen to this album over the past week with synthwave on my mind. As soon as We Can Stop the Hurtin’ started playing I immediately stopped what I was doing and paid extra close attention. Right off the bat you get a keyboard run that transitions into a synth bass line, followed closely by an Italo Disco-esque guitar riff added to the mix. Chicago’s added brass section makes me long for more trombone and trumpet in the synthwave scene! Before the track is over you’re even treated to an awesome synth solo!
This was a lot of fun for me. I hear this song and I hear a Chicago song from 1984 and I also hear a synthwave track that could have been released in 2018 and if you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t know the difference. This is why synthwave is such a magic thing…there aren’t many genres that pay so much respect to the past while also remaining relevant and cutting edge. Besides, Robert Lamm has been sporting a keytar for over 30 years…it doesn’t get more retro-relevant than that.