Retro-fetishism in music often gets a bad press. Sometimes deservedly so. There’s nothing more tedious than watching some po-faced bores try and recreate the sound of a specific era with 100% authentic vintage equipment but 0% imagination. However, retro-fetishism can be fine if that fondness for the past is combined with that oft-forgotten but important element: fun. And while Finnish synthesizerists STRAKTOBEAM do indeed have a salivating obsession with, in their words, “super awesome unaffordable vintage synths” (their press release includes a synth line-up alongside the human one), they clearly know how to make it enjoyable for the rest of us too.
Drawing equally from their love of both 16-bit computer games and electronic pioneers like Didier Marouani and Jean Michel Jarre, ‘Midnight Run’ is every bit as entertaining as the Martin Brest film from the ’80s (although its the Konami racing game rather than the Bobby De Niro-starring action knockabout that the song takes its name from). STRAKTOBEAM’s look is spot-on – like an even camper Kraftwerk, minus the uniforms – and their deadpan expressions are nicely juxtaposed with the Scalextric cars that race between their keyboards. With enthusiastic arcade game phrases like “FEEL THE POWER”, “MINDBENDING PERFORMANCE” and, simply, “YES!”, periodically zooming across the screen, it’s hard not to crack a smile.
Or tap your foot. The music may sound like a vintage off-cut from last year’s Cosmic Machine compilation of French electronic music from the ’70s (not a bad thing, by the way), but the live drums really freshen up the already agreeable vocodered vocals and soaring synth lines. Plus, if that’s not enough for you, STRAKTOBEAM also have a band logo that can only be described as ‘boss’.
The track will feature on a forthcoming EP, which follows their previous release, NANOBOT, which came on a robot-shaped USB stick (of course it did). Until that arrives, stick another 10p piece in the slot and select ‘CONTINUE’…
Kier Wiater Carnihan