The Legends of Retro: Unveiling the Best Retro Wave Artists of All Time

The Legends of Retro Unveiling the Best Retro Wave Artists of All Time Cover

The Best Retro Wave Artists of All Time

There is a realm where nostalgia rules and synth melodies act as a time machine to transport you back to the neon-lit streets of the 1980s. Welcome to Retro Wave, a musical genre that worships the spirit of yesterday but doing so with a modern twist; defined by its union of vintage sounds and modern production techniques, retro music has entered and made home in the hearts of music lovers all around the world.

Born from the depths of synth-pop in the early ’80s, retro wave emerged as an ode to an era defined by big hair, shoulder pads, and VHS tapes. With lush synthesizers at its core, this genre resurrects long forgotten memories and adds a modern touch for today’s listeners. From its humble origins as underground soundtracks for indie games or cinematic masterpieces paying homage to classics like Blade Runner, retro music soon found its place among mainstream audiences.

To unveil timeless legends who have played pivotal roles in shaping this mesmerizing movement, we embarked on an extensive research journey through online forums and websites passionately frequented by fellow retro enthusiasts. This article is our tribute,  an attempt at capturing voices from across the cyberspace to illuminate artists who’ve left indelible marks on countless headphones and hearts alike.

So dust off your cassette tapes and prepare for a magical journey through decades past as we introduce you to some of history’s best retro wave artists

Kavinsky: A French Pioneer in Retro Wave

Kavinsky

Born as Vincent Belorgey, Kavinsky is a prominent figure in the retro wave genre and an undeniable pioneer of synth-driven sounds. Hailing from France, his music was key to creating the entire genre by blending the essence of 80s pop with its pulsating beats and beautiful synths.

Kavinsky’s breakthrough came in 2006 with the release of his EP Teddy Boy, which included his most renowned track to date, Nightcall. The song gained international recognition when it was featured in the opening credits for Nicolas Winding Refn’s film Drive (2011). Its dark atmosphere and hypnotic melody became synonymous with both Kavinsky’s name and most of the aesthetics in the genre.

In addition to Nightcall, Kavinsky has produced numerous notable tracks that have solidified his status as one of the best retro wave artists ever. Songs like Odd Look and Roadgame highlight his ability to embody both energetic anthems and introspective pieces within a single artistic vision.

Carpenter Brut: Redefining Retro Wave with a Dark Twist

Carpenter Brut

One of the most influential artists in the retro wave genre, Carpenter Brut has carved out a distinctive sound that combines elements of 80s electronic music and metal to create some damn intense experiences. Hailing from France he busted onto the scene in 2012 with his debut EP Escape From Midwich Valley. 

What sets Carpenter Brut apart from other retro artists is his ability to infuse to make music that’s dark, energetic and ominous, but at the same time extremly catchy. His blend of synthwaves with dark aesthetics creates eerie atmospheres transporting listeners to dystopian worlds. Tracks like Turbo Killer, with its powerful synths and guitar riffs reminiscent of classic movie soundtracks, have become iconic. One of my personal favourite from Carpenter Brut comes from the soundtrack of the “Furi” videogame and is titled: “You’re Mine”.

Carpenter Brut’s influence extends beyond retro wave fans: his approach to music has attracted attention from mainstream audiences as well and he’s considered to be one of the best retro wave artists with full merit.

Perturbator: Synthwave's Dark Hero

Perturbator

Hailing from France once again, Perturbator has firmly established himself as one of the heavyweights in the retro wave genre. Thanks to his dark soundscapes he has been credited with bringing to life a unique sound inspired by cyberpunk aesthetics and classic horror movies. 

Perturbator rose to fame with his album Dangerous Days released in 2014. This haunting and powerful collection showcased an outstanding ability to merge heavy synthesizers with even heavier beats, creating an experience that was at the same time dark but atmospheric and enjoyable, perfect for a vast number of people all around the glove. 

His mastery over producing dark atmospheres oerfectly blended with strong driving energy led him to compose original scores for video games such as Hotline Miami. These collaborations further solidified his position as not just a musician but also as one of the best retro wave artists of all time.

Incredible live performances have become another hallmark of Perturbator’s artistic persona. His shows are known for their visuals. Experiencing Pertubator live is akin to stepping into the gritty streets of Blade Runner or being immersed in John Carpenter’s chilling universe; haunting but beautiful.

FM-84: The Nostalgic Alchemist

FM 84

Let’s now enter the “dreamy” realm of retro music with the mastermind behind FM-84, Col Bennett. From Edinburgh, Scotland, Bennett’s passion for retro wave began at an early age through his fascination with film scores and soundtracks from iconic movies like Back to the Future. Inspired by those experiences, he decided to start his own journey to recreate that magic.

Building upon the foundations created by pioneers of the genre such as the already mentioned Kavinsky, FM-84 has made significant contributions to shaping modern retro wave music. Atlas, the debut album, still holds an powerful position in retro circles, with the iconic tracks “Running in the Night“, featuring Ollie Wride, still considered by many one of the best, if not THE best, synthpop song ever created.

Gunship - Capturing Nostalgia with a Modern Twist

gunship

Gunship is a British retro band formed in 2010 that has quickly become one of the most beloved and influential acts within the genre. So much, in fact, that we’ve considered their self-named album as the best new retro wave album of all time to this day.

Comprised of Dan Haigh, Alex Westaway, and Alex Gingell, this trio effortlessly combines elements of synth-pop, new wave, rock, and electronica to create a unique sound loved all around the world.

Songs like Fly for Your Life and Tech Noir are classics which not only paid homage to ’80s cinema but also became an anthem loved everywhere.

Since then, Gunship’s sound has continued to gain momentum with subsequent releases like for example their sophomore album Dark All Day.

These musicians have struck a perfect balance between honoring their influences while pushing boundaries within the genre and deserve to be considered amidst the best retro wave artists of all time.

Shameless Honorable Mention

eLxAr Characters

While we have already unveiled some of the best artists in history let us talk about one other artist that you’re sure to love! And that is us, eLxAr, cause we not only love to provide support to the artists in this magnificent scene but we’re also part of it ourselves.

Retro sounds geared towards synthpop blended with the emotional appeal of Italian music culture and the goal of using music for something worthwile that might go beyond simple escapism, we create with the only goal of providing entertainment but with purpose, trying to have people reason about the harshnesses of the world at the same time.

Do we deserve to be named together with such other legends? That’s not for us to decide but you can make up your own mind by reaching to our  linktree and exploring our world to your heart content.

The Enduring Allure of Retro Wave: A Timeless Journey through Nostalgia

retro wave music

Retro wave music has not only provided a soundtrack to our past, but it continues to be loved by listeners all around the glove with its timeless charm. As we reflect on the impact of this genre, it is clear that retro musicians have truly stood the test of time. From revitalizing synth-driven sounds to infusing their creations with nostalgia, these artists have left an indelible mark on the music world as a whole.

I hope that the list we’ve managed to write after iur in depth online researches really manages to showcase the best that the genre has to offer but make it so that this is just the start of your journey because the more you follow this road, the more absolutly amazingh artists you’re sure to find, all of them shining like stars in the night, above the neon lights of our world.

The journey awaits, and it’s one well worth taking.

All the best,

Luca

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