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Published on Jan 8, 2010
Spacesynth, synthdance, spacedance, spacedisco or whatever you want to call it is instrumental upbeat synth music that focuses on melodies instead of rhythm. Driving basslines, catchy synth riffs, sci-fi influences and futuristic track titles and album covers have always been a major part of spacesynth.
Spacesynth originated in the mid 80's. At that time synthesizers and electronic sounds had become an essential part of popular music and were widely used by such artists as Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk and Art of Noise. Synthpop hits like Magnetic Fields 2, Pulstar and Magic Fly are well known tracks even today.
In the meantime in Italy a music style called Italo Disco was dominating discos. Basically Italo Disco consists of rather simple vocals, melodic synth riffs and a four-to-floor beat. It had that recognizable 80's disco sound that people either love or hate these days.
Italo disco became popular in other parts of Europe too. At first spacesynth was just an instrumental version of Italo Disco focusing on its synth side. But eventually it became a genre of its own. Cyber People released successful singles "Polaris" and "Void Vision" for the Memory Records label. Koto developed his own Italo-inspired synth music style and the single "Visitors" was a big hit in 1985.
Soon after there were other similar groups - also outside of Italy. Erik van Vliet from The Netherlands established Laserdance and together with Michiel van der Kuy Laserdance became the most successful spacesynth group ever. Their debut album "Future Generation" (1987) sold approximately 150 000 copies and the singles "Powerrun" and "Humanoid Invasion" were big hits in Europe. Koto and Laserdance could be considered the most popular spacesynth groups. They set the standards of the genre and since the golden era of spacesynth many producers have tried to replicate that sound.
In the early 90's spacesynth started to lose its popularity and almost completely vanished during the 90's when eurodance, house, techno and its subgenres were dominating electronic music charts. Spacesynth was nearly forgotten until it showed some signs of recovering towards the end of the 90s. Now there's growing interest in spacesynth again as 80's melodic sound is getting more popular. During the last few years Hypersound Productions and Alpha Centauri (formerly known as AXIS Records) have released a numerous of spacesynth albums from many new artists. It will be interesting to see and hear how this music is going to evolve. Time will tell.