shawn lee – synthesizers in space

Shawn Lee - Synthesizers In Space cover

You know that retro-hipster look, with the lumberjack shirts, skinny jeans, beards and nerdy glasses? I’d totally believe that on you, on one condition: if you played Shawn Lee‘s new album, appropriately entitled Synthesizers In Space, all day.


We’ve had a lot of emerging throwback styles over the last couple of years, from UK’s rock bands returning to a more rough garage sound, Mayer Hawthorne re-introducing 60s and 70s soul, dance music incorporating early 90s rave melodies and hip hop returning to the 808 drummachine. Looking at it from that angle it’s no wonder that another style would be resurrected, but in stead of taking an already popular oldie style, Lee flipped on us and based his latest release around more obscure 60s space age pop tracks. Listeners of his Ping Pong Orchestra releases will recognize the style but’ll still be amazed by the sound.


From the first seconds of the first track, AJ’s Mood, the sound is firmly set and is reminiscent of tracks that you’ll find on the Dusty Fingers compilation series: filthy reverbed drums, round dusty picked basses and bombastic but minimal melodies. Keeping the melodics basic leaves room for the drums and the bass to take the lead and keep every song groovy, whether it’s slow (Black Hole) or uptempo (Galactica). Although with this set up you would probably expect a more organic backdrop, replacing it with the space age synth style give the tracks a sweet but sharp edge.


In this sonic structure Shawn Lee revisits multiple styles from the 50s and 60s, from blues/rnb on Low Riders In Space, groovy rock on Boogie Children (Saturday Night) and Lost In The Shuffle, to latin fusion on Bossa Nova Seela and Tiger Style, culminating in the more psych influenced Celestial Walz and Head Up. For sample-heads the last style is obvious but others might be introduced for the first time to the early 70s crime scene  additions AJ’s Mood and Jupiter’s Jam.


Diggers will love it for the overall feel, the rock heads will definitely appreciate the grittyness, 80s new wave lovers will dig the synthwork, guys will drink hard liquor to it, girls will shake to it and if your mom and dad used to buy records they’ll ask you if it’s one of their records you ‘borrowed’ decades ago. The children are gonna boogie, and you can do too when it’s released on July 24th. Untill then you can check out the clip below and listen to excerpts of the album on Amazon, Allmusic and Juno.

(BTW: props for those who heard the Kool & The Gang and Barry White adaptations)