Welcome back, fellow synth-heads! We’re back with another edition of Retrocution. March felt like it really kicked 2023 into gear for synthwave, with loads of quality releases throughout the month. But for us, one particular highlight stood above the rest: Between the Moon and Stars, the latest release from UK producer Futurecop! Check out our thoughts below!
Futurecop! began in the mid-aughts with producers and best friends Manzur Iqbal and Peter Carrol at the helm, though it’s since become a solo endeavor for Iqbal. The project boasts one of the most consistent — if, okay, a bit sonically varied — discographies in all of synthwave. At times, it’s hard to even say whether it really is synthwave — at least not as most folks would perceive the genre. In a 2016 interview with Vehlinggo, Iqbal actually distanced the project from other “80s revival” acts and instead highlighted its focus on nostalgia more broadly. And if you look at the band’s trajectory over the last decade-and-a-half, that does track.
On an album like 2012’s The Movie, Futurecop! might jump seamlessly from more ostensibly synthpoppy tracks like “Starworshipper” or “1988 Girls” to, say, something darker and more abrasive like “Bright Lights, Big City” or the almost industrial-sounding “Thank God It’s Friday.” But then, you might stumble into a later effort like Return to Alvograth and mistake the more ambient, ethereal direction for a different project altogether. It’s the same with the thoroughly poppy Parallels collaborations on 2018’s Voltrana. Or the kind-of-an-amalgamation-of-all-that vibe of 2022’s From Oceans Within. Iqbal paints with a wide variety of colors and brushstrokes, but his work almost always ends up being enjoyable.
And that’s true of Between the Moon and Stars here as well. It’s good! Really good! At a svelte 22 minutes, it’s the rare album in this day and age that actually, genuinely, leaves you wanting more. And despite an assortment of different feel changes from track to track — and from the preceding works in the Futurecop! oeuvre — it all comes together to form a cohesive, catchy whole, with some of Iqbal’s more danceable tracks to date.
Picking “highlights” here is like picking favorite members of the Arsenal starting XI this season. It’s tough! But, I think the ones I’ve gotten the most mileage out of so far are the early cut “Feed Me Colours,” which intros with what sounds like a Final Fantasy healing spring and turns into a catchy, head-bobbing little bop. Later, “Bangkok” builds around a four-to-the-floor beat, with an absolutely terrific build and release. Almost everything here, though, has its own unique bits to appreciate. The almost hip-hop-sounding beat on “Hoop Dreams.” The driving bassline of “Lavender Skies.” It’s all pretty great.
Between the Moon and Stars ends up being an incredible case of “less is more.” Each individual part of the “less” feels like so, so much more, and that’s to Futurecop!’s immense credit. Check it out the next chance you get, and enjoy the ride.
Between the Moon and Stars is available now via NewRetroWave and Kiez Beats. For more information on Futurecop!, visit his Linktree page.
More March synth highlights:
- Retouch dropped a guitar-laden (and RIDICULOUSLY catchy) new single, “Code Red” on March 24. The Russian producer’s new album, Technocracy, will be out later this year.
- Cardiff-based synth label TimeSlave Recordings released the charity compilation FutureSounds Vol. 4 on March 9. The album features contributions from Phaserland, Robots with Rayguns, and OSC — with proceeds going toward various charities benefiting the homeless and/or disadvantaged across Wales.
- Emil Rottmayer returned with the new single, “Dream Sync,” on March 17. The song is set to feature on the UK-based producer’s new EP, out later this summer.
- January Retrocution featuree Betamaxx dropped the new single, “Depiction,” on March 17. It’s slow-building, cinematic-sounding, and entirely worth your time.
- LukHash came back with another new single — already his third of the young year. This one’s called “Amiga,” and honestly… I think it’s one of my favorite things he’s ever done? If you can’t bounce with this thing, you probably don’t have a friggin’ pulse. One of the tracks of the year for me, so far.
And that’ll do it for March! You know the drill from here, folks: tune in this time next month for more retro-flavored goodness. Until then…
Keep it synthy,