Beyond the Before makes no bones about its intentions. Its opening seconds play out like a John Carpenter title sequence; a goofy shot of propulsive 80s horror-house synth-pop. From here onwards the fun doesn't let up. Over seven extended tracks, Yves Malone conjures gory images from a non-existent midnight movie — one as unsettling as it is joyous.
There is a buzzing, harpsichord-like quality to the synth tone used, which contributes to this atmosphere greatly. Oneohtrix Point Never's Age Of used a similar tone to the same baroque effect last year. But in practice, his and Malone's music couldn't be more different.
In fact, Malone’s work bears more resemblance to synthwave pioneer Com Truise’s (Seth Haley). Haley's music brought forth nostalgia for non-existent times. It parodied the retro-futurism of eighties music and cinema. Beyond the Before has the same kitschy appeal.
If Haley is an eerie ancestor of the vaporwave movement, Beyond the Before is like a bittersweet photo album of him. It emphasises the tender melancholy inherent to trashy horror, just as Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein's Stranger Things soundtrack did in 2016.
That isn't to say this is a pastiche of Com Truise, or a shade of any of Haley's work. In fact, Malone's ambitions extend far beyond Haley's. Tracks often descend into beautiful noise sections in their final throes. They carry grooves for as long as ten minutes. It all looks positively avant-garde next to the no-frills synth-pop of In Decay.
And it is in these moments of experimentation that Beyond the Before lifts off. Synthwave is a genre which can exploit already-tired tropes of 80s yuppie music for the yuppies of today. But Malone often transcends the cynicism of their contemporaries to touch something sublime. This tape might not change the future. But at least it isn't trying to take the world back thirty years. An absolute riot.
You needn’t look further than John Carpenter and Alan Howarth’s masterful Prince of Darkness soundtrack for your horror synth fix. But, before that, purchase or stream Beyond the Before here.
Words by Andrew O’Keefe