Birthed at the turn of the ‘80s, synth and wave music has remained a constant force over the last four decades, with a recent spike in interest in the sound offering further proof of its’ timeless, out-of-this-world quality. It’s against this backdrop that Dutch DJ Interstellar Funk presents his celebration of the style, “Artificial Dancers – Waves of Synth”. A bumper compilation bristling with obscure and hard-to-find gems, the set sees the Artificial Dance label founder joining the dots between synthesizer and drum machine-driven tracks in a variety of subtly different styles. It’s the result of hundreds of hours spent digging through dusty old records, tapes, and the Bandcamp accounts of DIY musicians who have been active since the sound’s first boom in the early 1980s. The 11-track set draws on tracks made and released at different times over the last 40 years, with the earliest cut committed to tape in 1978 and the most recent in 2018. While the tracks date from the ‘80s, ‘90s, noughties and 2010s, the showcased cuts are united by a primitive but futuristic quality that makes dating them difficult. In many cases, it’s hard to tell which tracks were made in the early 1980s and which were conjured up in 21st century studios.
Following his debut LP in June 2017, Trenton Chase returns with “Planar Array”, a 7 track LP on Artificial Dance. As half of Manie Sans Délire and the co-owner of June records, he’s known for his uncompromising sound that touches a wide range of genres. The release is heavy-hitting with distorted vocals, industrial textures and dagger-like synths, a satisfying array of wave, EBM and experimental music. From Transit Decay with the clunky bassline and depth at its core to the aggressive electronics in Narked. From the title track, Planar Array’s melodic high synths to the dreamy contracting offbeat of Doppler Shift. Trenton Chase brings the smoke out of the machine, progressively getting harder, faster and more destructive.
Yesterday we presented the preferences of our readers from last year, now this is a list of 20 albums from 2019 that made an impression on us.
We have three pure electro albums from E.R.P., Jeremiah R. and Plant43 and the new electro-synthy album of veteran David Carretta, his first solo album for ten years. On the darker side of the synth palette we have two EBM/synth-pop albums from Boy Harsher and Years Of Denial, the debut album of Kris Baha, the third album of Greek producer June, a new one from Jason Letkiewicz aka Steve Summers under his new moniker Opposing Currents and two more industrial albums from Autumns and Colombian Filmmaker.
On the other had we have two acid gems from DimDJ and Paranoid London, the first ever Gladio album, the second album from Mannequin boss Alessandro Adriani and an experimental/ambient album from veteran Function on Tresor.
So, here it is compiled in chronological order.
Since forming in 2006 post-punk experimentalists Sebastian Melmoth have been on a thoughtful and adventurous musical journey. In a constant state of aural evolution, the London-based four-piece has a delivered a string of albums and EPs that variously touch on everything from garage-rock, grunge and lo-fi pop, to electro, new wave, dark ambient and music concrete, all the while drawing on a myriad of literary and artistic influences. The band’s first release for Artificial Dance digs deep into their admirable and eye-opening catalogue and draws together some of the Amsterdam-based label’s favorites from the more electronic end of the band’s output. Entitled “The Dynamics of Vanity” – a comment on Western culture’s obsession with rehashing the past and the band’s own in-built distrust of artistic naval-gazing – the set is not a ‘best of’ retrospective but rather a ‘sort of’ selection of stylistically interconnected cuts that gives a very specific snapshot of the band’s work.
This latest collection for Artificial Dance comprises three freshly unearthed iterations coming from Hypnobeat. Spearheaded by James Dean Brown (also known from Perlon’s Narcotic Syntax) and Victor Sol, and featuring other rotating members, Hypnobeat is a true product of the open-ended spirit of DIY music that proliferated in the 1980s. The prescient project championed deft, machine-powered rhythm programming as its modus operandi long before the practice would become a dominant global cultural form. Since Hypnobeat was revived in 2012 with Helena Hauff joining JDB on stage for improvised live performances based on one 707 and three 808s, there have been a string of archival releases shining a light on the early and more recently recorded works of this forward-thinking venture.
Jason Letkiewicz has always swum against the musical tides, flitting between different solo pseudonyms (including Steve Summers, Death Commando and Alan Hurst) and collaborative projects (most notably Mutant Beat Dance) in order to explore different aspects of his leftfield inspirations. With his latest release, a first full-length outing for Artificial Dance entitled ‘Mirage Information’, the Chicago-based artist is operating under an alias that celebrates this approach: Opposing Currents. It’s an alias he’s used once before – for a track featured on Chronditic Sound’s 2015 cassette compilation Non-Christian Referent – but ‘Mirage Information’ sounds like an artistic rebirth. Densely layered, mind-altering and often intense, the album’s seven tracks update the Cold War paranoia and pulsating electronics of EBM and industrial music for today’s complex and chaotic political climate. Throughout, Letkiewicz smothers off-kilter drum machine rhythms and throbbing, body-jacking synthesizer basslines in untold layers of hazy audio detail, creating a dystopian sound soup out of which alien electronic melodies, psychedelic acid lines and barely audible vocals emerge. At times, such as on angry opener ‘Lying Awake’, the extra-terrestrial ‘Dissolve’ and foreboding ‘Shallow Grave’, we’re invited to dance in the darkness in celebration of impending doom. On other occasions, such as the poignant and melancholic closing cut ‘It Awaits’, Letkiewicz simply seems exasperated at the chaos that is life in the 21st century. It makes for a genuinely arresting and thought-provoking listen.