With a few EP’s already under his belt, Kavinsky instantly caught the attention of the electronic music world through a little film called Drive, a 2011 L.A. crime drama starring Ryan Gosling, that quickly became a modern classic. The film began with Kavinsky’s “Nightcall”, a collaboration with Lovefoxxx and Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Cristo. We didn’t know this when we first watched Drive, we just settled into the film as “Nightcall” slowly oozed into our skin, meshed with gloomy, noir visuals of the streets of Los Angeles, overlayed with credits listed in hot pink cursive.
The explosion in popularity of that one track set the bar pretty high for Kavinsky, who follows it up with this year’s Outrun LP. Taking a cue from Drive, Kavinsky weaves a similarly noir narrative for the album, taking place in 1986, telling the tale of a teenager who, after a horrible accident, becomes one with his car. It’s no coincidence that the car featured on the album artwork is Kavinsky’s own Ferrari Testarossa, the same used in the Sega arcade game Outrun, from which this album takes it’s namesake.
Much like “Nightcall”, the sound of Outrun is rooted in heavy 80′s synths, used prevalently in Blade Runner, The Terminator, the Miami Vice TV series, or virtually any action film of the era. While hip-hop producers like El-P and Alchemist have shown clear influence from this era as well, Kavinsky’s take on the genre is much more direct, sounding like the tracks were plucked directly from the soundtracks of ’86.
Heavily instrumental, much of the album plays like a film score, with songs like “Blizzard” and “Protovision” piling the synth on heavily. The vocally driven “Odd Look” adds an extra layer of blissful sleaze, thanks to filtered lyrics from an uncredited vocalist. “Suburbia”, the album’s lone rap track, features Havoc of Mobb Deep, a natural collaboration, considering the Queenbridge duo’s long history of sampling synth soundtracks like Scarface for their own tracks.
While the territory explored on Kavinsky’s EP’s leading up to Outrun kept the narrative and the character in tact, one has to wonder what direction he will take his music next. There’s more to Kavinsky than just the use of vintage recording equipment, as the melodies and song structure are what separate this from us simply revisiting the soundtrack for Escape From New York over and over again. Will the next chapter cover the continuing saga of a man and his car, or will he do something completely different? We wouldn’t be surprised if Kavinsky simply drove off and disappeared into the night, never to be heard from again….
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