One Random Single a Day #68: “Mirage” (2014) by Powder Slut

My knowledge of synthwave pretty much begins and ends with the Drive soundtrack – but I love the Drive soundtrack, so it can’t be all bad! Today’s artist goes by the somewhat problematic name of Powder Slut. I was so ready to write off this musician’s name as yet another exploiter of the female form and existence in order to create a tiresome image that objectifies the image for the sake of aesthetic, with the use of a sex-shaming slur toward which many women have openly objected. Nonetheless, after a bit of research, I’ve found that the composer behind the name is a woman by the name of Yana Mesha! This is actually pretty cool, considering that my limited knowledge of synthwave have always circulated around the style and influence of a handful of men, from Giorgio Moroder, to Vangelis, to Cliff Martinez. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the word “slut” myself, but if a woman chooses to reclaim it for her own means, who am I to speak against this?

I haven’t been able to find out much else about her, except that she is from Ukraine (a first in this One Random Single challenge) and uses SoundCloud as her primary platform for her music. Much like the work of Cliff Martinez and others in the modern day synthwave bubble, the sonic stylings of Powder Slut take a lot from the 80s era of synthesizer-dominated music, but with a darker edge. Her music gives the impression of flying through space on a futuristic rocket ship – or perhaps just driving down a lonesome highway in the after hours of the night, surrounded by the city lights. Her recordings also tend to be on the lower range of the BPM scale, but there are some upbeat, danceable tracks in her repertoire as well. “Mirage”, however, is more on the midtempo side of things. Led by a droning bass and spacey synths, it quickly leads into some more upbeat sounds, including an almost tropical-sounding percussion rhythm and layers upon layers of even more synthesizers.

It doesn’t take long for the track to get into its dark, seedy comfort zone, but once it does it just sort of plateaus from there with little deviation from the overall sound of the track. Yet, while listening to “Mirage” is a mostly enjoyable experience, I just can’t bring myself to say it’s particularly astounding. I listened to a few more Powder Slut tracks, and while it’s clear that the musician has a clear, concrete image of the atmosphere she desires to emit and does so quite effectively, it’s all the same type of atmosphere. This is probably just my own bias against synthwave (or instrumentals in general – I’m sorry, I’m a lyrics person!) but it never feels appealing when every recording from an artist all sound very, very similar. I do think this would make excellent background music, or even soundtrack music for a futuristic space opera or a retro action flick in the vein of Drive or Miami Vice. I would very gladly support this artist in all that they do; I just wish that this particular track packed a bit more of a punch.

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