Buena Vista is the debut album by Miles Matrix, featuring eight tracks that are a merger of synthwave, retrowave, outrun and darksynth genres. His bio reveals that he’s inspired by movie soundtracks of the 1980’s, video games, and pop music, and you can clearly hear these influences throughout the tracks.
The album has a strong start with the opening track, Night Striker. The darksynth influence on the music helps to create a modern sound, and the retro sounding synths are like strings of ear-candy in this dance track. It has a retrowave style “chorus” that’s a clear nod to the sounds of the 80’s, yet the nostalgia trend never takes over the track, leaving it sounding entirely modern. The pop-style structure of the track makes it the best track on the album, in my opinion.
Starpilot is a very cinematic track that sounds like a video game soundtrack until the midpoint, where it transitions to darksynth dance music. It felt like the song had a split personality. Toward the end, the two styles merge together again. I always enjoy when artists are so creative with blending genres together to create their own unique sound, and I certainly appreciate that Miles Matrix has brought these synth genres together. Unfortunately, this track didn’t quite hit the mark for me, because it sounded more like two different songs, and the outro was strangely different than the rest of the track. While each segment of the track sounds good, the music didn’t progress in a way that felt natural to me as I listened. My favourite section of the track was the dance music, and I really enjoyed that line of musical expression. A remix for the dance floor would likely be amazing.
The third track is Super Getaway Driver: Miami. The title tells you exactly what to expect of the track, that it’ll firmly embrace the outrun genre. The traffic sounds in the intro really sets the stage! The merger with darksynth also creates a modern sound, and this track would easily enhance a getaway scene in a futuristic action movie. The end of the track has another oddball transition that sounds like an entirely different track. It is brief enough to not detract from the overall experience, but it did leave me feeling puzzled.
Up next is Adventure Club. It has a dark, atmospheric intro with an airy melody that reminds me of the soundtrack for The Terminator movie. The track transitions smoothly into a dance track that incorporates outrun, retrowave and darksynth genres. The merger of genres was definitely successful in this track, making it one of the strongest tracks on the album. It has a very uplifting melody, while the darksynth influence keeps it firmly grounded as a track that would easily suit the dance floor.
The fifth track, You Did Good, Kid, incorporates dialogue voice samples that sound like they’re from a sci-fi movie. It starts with brief dialogue from a scene, then very ambient music begins and leads into a strong bassline that enhances the ambient synths. As the track continues, stronger melodies combine with subtle industrial-style elements. The sci-fi movie dialogue samples reappear at the midpoint, then the melody gets a bit wild in the second half of the track. The beat picks up a lot more in the second half, and although drums are used sparingly in the first segment, they are a significant element in the latter one. The musical journey of this track feels very natural and fun to me. This is my personal favourite track on the album, and it is also ripe for a dance remix.
Stay A While, Stay Forever! has a trippy sounding intro and bursts into a retrowave ear-worm melody. The vocals in this track add a lot, and also have a retro synthpop sound to them. The lyrics are as nostalgic as the melodies. The midpoint of the song has a transition similar to the intro, and the song progresses with synth elements so prominent that it demanded most of my attention.
Main Force Patrol sounds ready for the dance floor right out of the gate with its strong and dark sound, upbeat rhythm and ear-worm melodies. The only problem with this track is that it feels too short—the beginning of the outro sounded like a transition to a concluding segment, so the ending seemed abrupt to me.
The final track is Enemy Mine. It’s another upbeat track that has sharp synth melodies that were too sharp for my liking. This is another track on the album with vocals. Unfortunately the vocals were out of key in parts, and competed with the piercing synths for the bigger reason causing my dislike of the song.
There’s plenty of good and some not-so-good in this album. The outro for several tracks came off as quite bizarre to me, and sometimes the merger of genres doesn’t flow well. It’s obvious that Miles Matrix has huge potential, but I do feel that he needs to refine his craft. Nevertheless, the tracks that transition naturally and blend genres together with ease are sure to delight synthwave fans! Songs like Stay A While, Stay Forever! would appeal to classic synthpop fans, and I think it would be great to hear more songs like this from Miles Matrix in the future as well.
Buena Vista is available to stream on Spotify and Bandcamp. You can purchase and download the album from Bandcamp, or buy a physical copy on CD in a jewel case that also includes digital download.
Review written by:
August 18, 2019