Spacesynth is a genre of music that had its beginnings in the early to mid 80’s. The genre evolved from the Italo disco scene (mainly synthy Italian 80’s music sung in English). Italo producers had forsaken vocals and supplemented the absence with vocoders and cosmic effects. At first the product sounded like instrumental Italo however soon the genre developed into a form of its own as more and more producers began to lend their talent to it.
Co-incidentally as this new evolution was occurring in Italy, in Holland the Dutch studio formation Laserdance (Erik Van Vliet and Michel Van der Kuy) were also experimenting with Italo influenced music without vocals. In fact the first track by Laserdance was of the same name and released in as a single in 1983. Interestingly enough this was produced by Erik Van Vliet and Belgium producer Fonny de Wulf.
With Van Vliet's vision and Van Der Kuys musical skill Laserdance went on to become the biggest and most influential exponent of the genre. Their first album "Future Generation" sold some 150,000 copies, which is by far the most successful. Having produced more than ten albums; to this day their legacy plays an important and influential role in how this music is created.
In Italy Koto produced arguably the first Spacesynth track in "Chinese Revenge", this success was followed by "Japanese Wargame" soon other artists such as Cyber People and Hipnosis followed suit with hits such as Droid, Pulstar, Polaris and Void Vision.
In 1985 Koto released the landmark "Visitors" which to this day remains the biggest selling single of spacesynth, some 200,000 copies were sold. With such popularity the genre thrived through the mid to late 80’s.
However it was the influx of house and techno that eventually (like Italo) sent spacesynth underground and soon those wonderful melodies were only distant memories. Laserdance continued to produce albums however not to the same level of success. Interestingly enough against this trend we saw a mini-revival of the genre particularly with new acts such as Syntech, Proxyon, Trilithon and Daylight. However by the mid 90’s the genre was well into decline with Laserdance producing their last album with the Van Vliet/ Van Der Kuy partnership and only Daylight continuing with major production and even that is arguable whether that is pure spacesynth.
A new beginning
In 1999 a new website www.laserdance.de (now defunct) came on the scene and soon spurred interest amongst members who were fans of the genre for years as well becoming a meeting place for potential producers. In addition Hypersound Productions also called upon unknown producers to send in their demos. The first album by Hypersound, produced by the next generation of Spacesynth producers was Mind Xpanders "A Tribute To Laserdance". This was soon followed by Anders Lundqvist’s "Unknown Destination" and Protonic Storms Epsilon Warriors. Hypersound Productions also released a series called Synthdance; to date 8 volumes have been released. The new Millennium saw new labels sprout out. Alpha Centauri became the second label to produce new music; their first Artist was Zoltar who released "Cosmic Pirates". Other releases that were followed were by Spaceraider and Vocoderion (the first female) producer in the genre. Alpha Centauri continued to impress the community with new artists such as Space Project as well as providing huge mega mixes of spacesynth available for free download.
A few years ago a new website www.spacesynth.net had taken the mantle as the "Mecca" of spacesynth. Here artists such as Mark Vera, Dreamtime, Marco Rochowski to name a few have allowed their talent to be appreciated by contributing wonderful arrangements to the Free Music section.
The new Millennium has seen spacesynth taken to a new level. The genre is not static and seems to have evolved into several different strands. Protonic Storm is probably the most notable artist to be pushing this genre with his innovative and futurist style. Another artist Mark Vera brings with him a vast amount of technical knowledge, which is reflected, in his work. Other artists such as Marco Rochowski (from Macrocosm) and Space Project continue the legacy of Laserdance and Koto with their classic interpretations of the genre. While on the other hand an artist such as Anders Lundqvist has taken on a board a lot influences and come up with his own unique blend of style. Interestingly enough some of the old guard have returned to the foray. The new millennium saw Erik Van Vliet form a new partnership with Julius Winjimalen and continue the legacy of Laserdance with the album "Strikes Back". Michel Van Der Kuy with Rob Van Eijk formed Area 51 and successfully released Jupiter Beyond on the Hypersound Label. They followed up with a second album titled "Message From Another Time". Afrando Maiola from Koto fame is also planning a come back and reportably is working on new material. It seems some of the old stars have returned not from a monetary perspective but rather from enjoyment in producing this genre of music. What is also very promising is that the genre is capturing a new generation of audience as well as old hands such the old demo scene community who have found a new lease of life!