Stepping out onto the scene with their debut release, Ace Buchannon delivers a crazy 80s-heavy retrowave to your face. Based in Helsinki, Finland, you know that you’re getting some very authentic disco vibes from this guy. Sounding at times like music, at times like a SEGA video game, and even sometimes sounding like the music for those old workout videos where everyone had big hair, Magenta Nights is unapologetically itself – a purple disco rager.
You glide into the album with “Rebirth,” a track that makes you feel like you are being birthed into the cyber world. Get used to the heavy use of synths, because they are the soul of this record. Although this first track is soft and dialled back, it is merely an interlude to get you started. “Buns of Steel” follows up, and it sounds exactly like what the title suggest: an 80’s workout video soundtrack. You can almost hear the voice of a motivational coach giving you instructions on how to squat as you listen to this. There is even a sound bite of phrases like “Here we go!” and “One more time!” dropped through the song, so you know this is exactly what Buchannon had in mind.
The next track is the first to have vocals on it, thanks to a guest appearance by Noki. The vocals sound a lot like early Lady Gaga, and are really good in my opinion. The lyrics talk about living in the timelines and memories we store, but like in some Matrix way. The synths are smooth and the tune has a laidback air to it. Luckily, there is a lot more of this kind of cool roller-disco vibe spread across the album.
The real juice though comes with “Forbidden Dream.” By far the coolest track on the album, it is simply a long sax solo that soars over a smooth city skyline in a magenta night. If you were a cop in 1980’s New York, this song is you. The sax is so smooth and sexy, the backbeat is unbreakable, and the groove is tasty. This instrumental track is where it’s at for this album, but enough with the kick backs. “Breakout” follows up with a boost to your system. It sounds exactly like what the title is: busting out of somewhere and being on the run in the night city lights.
The flow of this album is very good. It fluctuates from soft to cool to quick all very smoothly and keeps you satisfied with a thought-out dynamic created in the track list.
As we near the end, there are still a few big tracks left to listen to. “Promise” is a heartfelt instrumental that sounds like the sadness of a robot. It’s cool to be able to translate such a tender emotion through the means of such a cold and electronic instrument. Buchannon gets you right in the feels with this one though, as he proves that retro music could be given new life in modern times, as long as you’re authentic as fuck and stick to your guns.
Written by Ben Cornel
*edited by Kate Erickson