It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment where cyberpunk and the 1980s VHS trash aesthetic became so inexorably intertwined. I’d hazard that it likely stems from the slew of low-budget, straight to video attempts to capture some of the success of the likes of The Terminator and RoboCop with hyperviolent, synth scored, delirious pulp.
In addition to a seemingly infinite number of movies, almost all of which seem to have absolutely incredible trailers and posters, this era’s influence and the ‘notstalgia’ it’s spawned have heavily fed into the modern synthwave scene and even inspired the likes of Ubisoft’s FarCry 3: Blood Dragon video game and associated soundtrack by Power Glove.
Using an imaginary movie about a vengeance-seeking former Green Beret called The Annihilator as its basis, producer Karate King has gathered together over twenty synthwave artists to write and record the film’s soundtrack using only their knowledge of the film’s synopsis and its title as their basis. Karate King Presents: The Annihilator is the result of their efforts.
The album is certainly evocative of the era and genre it pays homage too, but is also unafraid to break away from canon films synth pulses and play with some fun ideas on tracks like the Kingmob 2099’s ‘Midi-Death-Kill’ which incorporates samples from the film’s ‘trailer’ or Strawberrybacon’s oddly sweet ‘Miami Sunset 1989’. Listeners looking to soundtrack the action movie in their heads will find plenty of fodder for their imaginations in tracks like Dimi Kaye’s ‘From the Ashes’ and Cosmo Cocktail’s ‘No Mercy for the Mobsters’.
Karate King Presents: The Annihilator is well worth a look for fans of 80s trash cinema as well as being a thoroughly solid compilation of synthwave in its own right. Karate King Presents: The Annihilator can be downloaded from Karate King’s Bandcamp.