He cites Jan Hammer, he of the Miami Vice TV show theme song, as a major influence. His music is synth-poppy-goodness, but his performing name is pure violence. He used to do hip hop, but now he’s all about that 1980s synth sound. I’m speaking, of course, of Johan Bengtsson, better known by his nom-de-synth Mitch Murder.
I recently learned about Mitch from my co-worker Rob. We were both in Kansas City to attend a couple of days of meetings, and the ice-breaker was that each person would talk about what new music or books they were currently into. Rob told us that he was way into synthwave right now, so of course I made a point of getting some recommendations from him. And one day when we were headed back to the office after lunch he played some Mitch Murder in the car. And I was sold immediately.
Most of Mitch Murder’s releases are only available via download (which you can find at his extensive Bandcamp page HERE), but after a bit of poking around I found one that was released on vinyl – the five-song 2016 EP called The Real Deal. I had to order it from Norway (Murder himself is Swedish) and it just arrived. These songs are pure electronic goodness, sounding like the soundtrack to every great 1980s teen movie ever made – upbeat to the point of being almost chipper, incorporating unusual sounds like flutes and bells alongside beats that feel like they came straight from Mattel Synsonic Drums, more flat and snappy than the deep bass sounds we hear in more contemporary electronica. There are no vocals and only one track that has any vocal sampling, so you’re left with pure, crisp music.
It’s hard to compare Mitch Murder to anything specific from the 1980s, because he doesn’t sound like anyone in particular, but at the same time he sounds like everything we were hearing in pop and soundtracks at the time. “Outpost Alpha” initially reminded me of the early parts of Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is,” but as it progressed it turned more into something that could have been part of a slower early Madonna track, but then again maybe something Lionel Richie could have used… like I said, it sounds like everything and nothing in particular at the same time. And if “Prime Operator” doesn’t make you think you’ve just dropped into the middle of a sports-karate-military-training-sequence from a movie, you haven’t seen enough 80s movies. It makes me want to go paint a fence or gleam the cube or something. So good.
Go check out Mitch’s Bandcamp site (link above) and just pick something at random. You’ll be glad you did.