The breakout success of the ’80s horror/sci-fi throwback Stranger Things has been generating a bit of buzz for its nostalgic synth-laden soundtrack. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the Austin-based synth band Survive have received heaps of praise for their score, which captures the synths and sounds of the ’80s to wonderful effect. Hearing this soundtrack and reading up on its creators brought to mind one of my favorite auteurs of the YouTube gear demo genre, Jexus—aka WC Ollo Garb.
Operating in disguise as an innocent synthesizer demo, YouTube user Jexus instead presents us with an odd sort of A/V art. Not content to shower the viewer with “trance leads or Jarresque stuff,” to quote his website, Jexus instead works firmly in the John Carpenter soundtrack vein with a splash of contemporary noise/drone obsession.
The sound design and improvised musical bits showcasing the synth’s capabilities are definitely of interest. But the audio-musical is only one part of the equation. Rather than placing an iPhone on a tripod and calling it a day, Jexus shoots the videos on equipment that matches the era of keyboards which are demonstrated (or perhaps, just does a very convincing job of mangling the images to emulate said vintage video gear). There are also odd bits of collage transition, to keep things from getting too uniform.
The Jexus synthesizer demos conjure an era awkwardly (and beautifully) straddling the analog and the digital worlds inhabited by the synthesizers themselves. So after you have checked out the genius of the Stranger Things soundtrack, head on over to Jexus’ YouTube page for even more mid ’80s synth nostalgia.
Check out Jexus’ demo of the Roland Juno 106 below.