A project based variously in the Midwest, the Bay Area, and currently Nashville, Stacian is a longtime vehicle for dance floor alchemist, electronic artist, and producer Dania Luck, who delivers for Chicago’s CLEAR a collection that synthesizes a wide breadth of influences; from varying strains of minimal wave, to the darker baroque flourishes of German new-wave and post-industrial— all while scavenging the displaced futurism of early analog electronic music. From the glam-spattered invocation of “Dance With Me” to the frenzied snare-hits of “Read Me”, to the post-industrial stomp of “We Are War”; “Fractal ID” unfolds like a map of hypnagogic states. By the time we reach “The Well” and “Idea of Home” a trapdoor in the dance floor has opened to an otherworldly abyss, where pulsating analog beats materialize, and glimmering arpeggiations illuminate the icy well of our shared technological isolation. Stacian’s “Fractal ID” is a propulsive and perilous journey to the depths, of dynamic rhythmic modulations and expansive sonic textures; a lone ray of light that bounces and refracts along the cavernous sub-levels of the club floor.
Though the hallowed halls of Berlin’s nightlife excess now sit cold, the sounds that once haunted their depths beat ever onward, and colder still. Birthed in these hushed plaguelands, XTR HUMAN’s new full-length G.O.L.D evokes the frozen melancholy of a post-pandemic city, driven ever onward by the impetus of night’s primary currencies: sweat, release and change. The latest full-length from Johannes Stabel, G.O.L.D finds the German producer evolving as much as the rest of the world has had to. Taking his political and socially conscious lyrics into his native tongue brings a deeper and more powerful thrust to their weight—particularly at a time when Germany is weighing its own social consciousness after years of being seen as a leading world figure.
Detriti presents “Miscellanea” from Tuxedo Gleam, an electronic/darkwave duo from Modesto, California (US), composed by Aunt Gleam (synthesizer, drum programming, voice) and Angel Marie (synthesizer, voice).
Absolute Body Control was formed by Dirk Ivens in 1980 influenced by the sound produced by the likes of Suicide, D.A.F. and the UK electronic scene. Eric Van Wonterghem joined the project next year just after the release of the debut 7″ “Is There An Exit?”. They released together just some cassettes during its brief initial run, but this was enough to gain a following in and outside Belgium. A compilation of tracks entitled “Eat This” was eventually done in 1993 and a first edition of the collection “Lost / Found” was issued on CD in 2005. Dirk and Eric took the project back on stage in 2006 and decided to re-activate it. They first re-recorded some of their classic songs for the album “WindReWind” and then continued releasing new material and touring all Europe and beyond. “Lost / Found” is the definitive collection of this minimal-synth-wave act and is now available for the first time on vinyl record with a total of 52 songs including 8 previously unreleased.
Nuovo Testamento is the Los Angeles & Bologna-based trio featuring members of Horror Vacui, Sheer Mag, Tørsö, Terremoto and Crimson Scarlet. With the addition of Chelsey Crowley on vocals, synthesists Andrea Mantione & Giacomo Zatti found that their initial coldwave tracks, originally written for the male voice, took on an undeniable synthpop feel. While still recording these songs for the debut Exposure EP in 2019, the band leaned into this evolution and their shared love of Italo disco, beginning to write what would become the New Earth LP. Recorded in isolation during a global pandemic, New Earth is a dark Italo record dappled with light. For eight new tracks, dancing synths perfectly balance the rich dream of a charmed life with melancholy. Guitars have taken a step back, allowing disco beats to flood the floor and joyful fun to prevail. The record anticipates a return to dance spaces, imagines shared experiences and celebrates personal power.
The fifth part of the Wave Earplug series brigs minimal synth pop, electro, new beat, old school EBM, dark wave and more. Input by artists from USA, Canada, Spain, The Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden, Germany and Hungary.
In 1986, the young Rickard Karlsson, Magnus Jönsson and Fredrik Bergman formed the all-synth band Etage Neun in Ystad, Sweden. Admittedly influenced by Depeche Mode and right in the middle of the Cold War, their lyrics were often dark, about human conflicts and the nuclear threat. In May 88 they self-released their first album “War And Emotions” in cassette format only. This album has been impossible to find for decades and has become a must have for synthpop fans all over the world. Time has proved that Etage Neun should have gained more recognition back then, but at least we have the opportunity now to listen to this synth masterpiece with far superior sound quality than ever before.
An album of intricate minimal wave/post punk from Daniel Holt’s new project Human Figures. Human Figures is a completely new and personal avenue of expression for Holt. “Footsteps” is liminal, lonely and misty with negative space between each instrument. Each note invokes a warm hypnagogic atmosphere, tinged with fluttering anxiety. Through these eight tracks, this multifaceted musician shows another side of his art with guitars, basslines and drum machines. The mournful “Lifted Burden”, with its cowbells and echoing vocals swaddled in warm strings, sets the tone. Haunting notes are supported by a staccato beat as Holt´s melancholic vocals sail in “40 Days” before the bare brilliance of “An Open Heart.” A spread of influences is drawn on for Human Figures: the post-punk rawness of “For My Angel”, the synth romance of “Footsteps” the cold reductions of “Passing Beyond Body.” Sombre, stirring and superb.
“Footsteps” was release also on cassette last year on Popnihil.
Forever lost single track from Caroline K real name Caroline Kaye Walters – founder member of Nocturnal Emissions, one of the best UK experimental/industrial music groups in the 1980s. Conceived at her Brixton studio in 1983 during the same sessions of “Don’t Believe It’s Over, “Mirrorball” sounds heavily inspired by “Blue Monday” from New Order, unveiling an unexpected pop side from the British experimental artist, here with the help of Beverley Ireland at the voice.
In pandemic times of telepresences and social distancing, Live At Robert Johnson and Leipzig’s own Riotvan team up for a magical musical mission. Encompassed by the graphic design of Michael Satter & Panthera Krause, each of the five tracks has been created by teams representing both label crews and their environs, rendering a truly synergetic effort. A1 is Roman Flügel & Rebolledo producing deep and wide Star Stuff with arpeggiated bass riffs, haunting vocals and melody. A2 sees Jennifer Touch & Chinaski setting off on an electroid Synth-Pop trip, with crafty 1980s synths, drums and vocals. A3 is New Hook and Perel teaming up for a Cosmic Disco tinged track, featuring unique spanish-english vocals. The flipside kicks off with Fort Romeau & Panthera Krause on B1, heavily into a stereophonic and proper Italo soundscape. Horkheimer & Peter Invasion & Gregor Habicht conclude the EP on B2 with a wicked technoid Breakbeat along a modulating bass line and, yeah, a looney laugh befitting these crazy times.
‘Star’ is Perel’s Running Back debut. Picturing Perel’s development as a recording artist on the one hand and the hardships everyone had to experience since the world has been changed by a pandemic on the other, making it – in her word words – „an EP about crossing the „physical distance between the people I miss and love“. Opening with the riveting vocals of Star („This song is literally a love song for my people“), the three pieces also show Perel’s growing versatility as a producer. The tried and tested neon disco lights interchange with darker tones, uplifting and affirmative moments (Tour De Perel) rotate with contemplative and pondering intervals (Internal Monologue). Yet, by no means Perel is whistling a sad tune. Her melodies are as always deep, distinguishable and delightful to dance to.
The Illegal Future LP by Infravision is the soundtrack to a (not so) imaginary future constructed with clear cyberpunk aesthetics, inspired by films like Strange Days, Blade Runner or Akira and of course by the current disturbing era. Through their titles, lyrics and sonic palette Kendal & Pablo Bozzi channel a dystopian narrative on themes of virtual reality, police brutality, ultra-authoritarian leadership, illegal nocturnal activities, border controls, ecological crises and space colonisation. It is their ambition to imbue the italo, EBM, early trance and breakbeat sounds of the 80s and 90s with an undeniably modern touch, making claim to their very own distinctive and powerful sound : Italo Body Music from another reality.
With this joint venture between Wrong Era and Italo Moderni, label boss Adrian Marth brings it on with a five track EP including two killer remixes from Fabrizio Mammarella and Geneva Jacuzzi. Expect nothing but harsh basslines and filthy drums from the Barcelona based producer. His love for the classic sounds of italo, space, and cosmic disco of the 80’s comes perfectly together on this release. Geneva gives ‘’Hypnotic Eyes’’ a synth driven vocal pop rework that will hypnotize you from the start. Fabrizio instead, gives Adrian’s track ‘’Disorder’’ a peak time heavy edged remix, that will not disappoint you.
‘Next Wave Acid Punx’ is a journey across nearly 40 years of dark club music compiled and curated by Berlin-based Musician and DJ, Luca Venezia aka Curses. The first part takes early tracks from bands who came directly out of the punk and new wave scenes, that played a major role in forming Luca’s musical taste. The second part celebrates current music influenced by these early pioneers and exclusive tracks made for this compilation, with the passion for these genres in mind.
Reminiscent of all the slippery vinyl that glitched under so many sweaty wet fingers in a steamy basement before time – a picture that seems highly illegal in our current antiseptic climate of hopefully germ free adolescents. Vax-inate! Give them the needle! It’s time. Six tracks coming from Deti Vechnosti, Alexander Arpeggio & OhLandy, Rouge Mécanique, Automatenfall, Das Kinn and Alessandro Adriani.
The second instalment on the Lux Rec 7″ series comes from Zurich based musician Nicola Kazimir. Fast paced, powerful yet dramatic, shaped by his interests for occult rituals, Japanese weird imagery and fringe politics of life, these four songs are the soundtrack of those long hours spent in haze in his studio next to the Limmat river.
The Swiss New Wave heroes Karl Kave & Durian collaborate for the album”Untergang und Finsternis” on Detriti Records. Dreamy synths, dreamy lyrics, dreamy people.
Wladyslaw Trejo comes with a 7″ single dedicated to Warsaw. “Nuestra Voz” is a poem wrapped in sharp synthesizers about the silent threat of totalitarianism. The accompanying video clip amplifies its meaning and serves as a metaphor. “Tranzyt W” is an instrumental that portrays the walk of an inveterate observer, Wladyslaw himself, through the streets of modern Warsaw.
Karl Kave makes his appearance on Lux Rec for their first release in 7″ format. Four terse tracks influenced by his past experiences, high and low as they come, tumultuous thoughts and life events. The result is a sombre nostalgia for all that is not there anymore. Coming from Rheintal, a valley on the eastern part of Switzerland, he uses English, German and his native Swiss dialect to sing. Dive into it, meet sadness.
WRWTFWW Records reissue Swiss cult band Grauzone’s self-titled album in an expanded 40 Years Anniversary Edition packed with the original 1981 album plus 9 extra songs, as well as extensive liner notes by Swiss music historian Lurker Grand. The pioneering band from Bern (Switzerland) had a short-lived but highly-regarded career which birthed a cult discography that still fascinates and resonates today. Consisting of core members Martin Eicher, Stephan Eicher, and Marco Repetto, and on-and-off participants Christian GT Trüssel, Claudine Chirac, and Ingrid Berney, the elusive group broke new grounds in the early 80s, experimenting with punk and industrial music, early techno sounds, minimalism, new wave, pop, and various electronics. With an innovative and polished approach to design, visuals, performance, and all around style and philosophy on top of their superb music, the constantly transforming unit developed a whole experience – the Grauzone experience: wild and unpredictable, yet sophisticated and cohesive, or as Swiss music historian Lurker Grand would call it, “an Art band with a Punk attitude”. Completely rejecting the music industry rules and refusing to play the game of promotion, touring, release schedules, and TV appearances even though they had a multi-platinum international hit with the song “Eisbär”, the band quickly disintegrated in full convention-defying glory, leaving behind an inspiring music legacy for the world to discover and discover again, one generation after the other. This extended version of their debut (and only) album beautifully crystallizes the Grauzone miracle/accident – where pop and youthful experimentation meet at (new/cold/no) wave and industrial crossroads.