Recently in Synthpop Category

Okay, three tracks today. Insert typical blogger whining about not having posted in so long here.

First, Lali Puna doing a super-quiet, almost ambient, cover of Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder's title song for the movie Electric Dreams, which, in a heartless crime against culture, isn't out on DVD. How could they release Short Circuit, but not Electric Dreams? It's got a MUCH better soundtrack, especially with that wonderful cello/computer jam session. That and the closing number in Revenge of the Nerds were the most influential pieces of movie music in my formative years. Make of that what you will. And now, on the "Reproductions" Human League tribute album (which is generally quite good), Lali Puna has made it quiet and pretty, for times when you want to express how lonely it can be to be far from somebody you love and miss but huge throbbing analog synths just don't fit the mood.

Lali Puna -- (Together In) Electric Dreams

Next up, more unabashed 80's cheese, complete with chunky octave basslines, sampled guitars and a hook so hooky that I had to dig up the song more than 15 years later to find out if it was as great as I remembered. Yep, it was. I don't really feel like searching out any info about Baltimora right now. Presumably they were from Baltimore, released this song and the requisite 12" remix (which you're getting here-- dig it, synthesizer monkey noise breakdown at 4:49), and vanished. Who knows? Thank you, "Maximum 80's," for bringing us this nearly-forgotten delight. And oh look, there are Baltimora videos on YouTube. Cool. Baltimora! Top of the Pops!

Baltimora -- Tarzan Boy (12" remix)

Finally, another piece of catchy 80's synthpop, from Blue Clocks Green, who until a couple of years ago didn't even have a web presence. They do now, and there's been some vague mention of a comeback, although I think that would imply that they'd actually been here in the first place. There's an extensive biography here, and I deeply regret not stealing the "Hemingway" 12" vinyl from WBUR when I had the chance. Alas, my morality. Anyway, it's a cute and bouncy little tune, and very catchy indeed. Highly recommended, and mirrored here in case the upenn.edu link (where I got the file) goes away.

Blue Clocks Green -- Hemingway

Regardless of my previous threats, these are all mp3 files, so non-itunes users can relax-- for now.

Edelweiss

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Mm, Edelweiss, terrible 80's dance music at its best, featuring every cheesy sample ever used in the 80's.

Short post today (better than no post since last week, I guess), and ideally Joe will post some early-90's Boston Industrial sometime soon. He's got some DDT and some Joy and some others lined up, I think. I guess we'll see...

For now, though, Edelweiss! One-hit wonder Bavarian synthpop dance frenzy! Yes indeed.

Edelweiss - Bring Me Edelweiss

Handful of Snowdrops

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Handful of Snowdrops synthpop band from Quebec. They started out in the early 80's, released an album in 1990 (Land of the Damned), released a second album in 1992 (Dans L'Oeil De La Tempete), and called it quits in 1993, releasing a final collection of live songs (Mort en Direct). They were published by the now-defunct C'est La Mort records, about which more can be read here. They're best known for Area and Controlled Bleeding, and some C'est La Mort releases were much later reissued on Projekt. Many C'est La Mort albums remain out of print, though, including Handful of Snowdrops.

Handful of Snowdrops wasn't a great studio band. Land of the Damned suffers from very raw production-- lots of big dry synths, fakey choir samples (not that I don't love fakey choir samples...) and very mechanical drums and sequences. Dans L'Oeil De La Tempete was almost overproduced and sounds way too clean and deliberate, and the drum programming is still very mechanical. Drum machines aren't necessarily bad, but the rest of the instrumentation seems to be striving for lushness and expression and the drums just don't support that well.

It's no surprise, I guess, that Mort en Direct really stands out as the best document of the Handful of Snowdrops sound. Even the sequenced parts sound better onstage, and rather than sampled guitars, they appear to be playing with a live guitarist. If you'd heard their studio albums and wondered what the big deal was, Mort en Direct could convince you that they really were worth paying attention to.

Here are a couple of Handful of Snowdrops songs. "Now, Then, and Forever" was only available on Volume 4 of the Doctor Death compilations, Marvels of Insect Life. "Land of the Damned" is the Mort En Direct version of the title track from their first album. "Godhood" is also live, and doesn't seem to have been released elsewhere.

Now, Then, and Forever
Land of the Damned
Godhood

Men Without Hats/Eins Zwei Mix

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All right, the first actual music posting. How about that?

I've been a big fan of Men Without Hats since, well, a long time ago. Not as long as they've been around, but when somebody on the MWH mailing list offered to make CDs of a couple of live shows plus their FIRST release (the Folk of the 80's EP, although in the form of the 1985 re-release, the Freeways EP), I jumped at it. The two concerts were from 1983 (the Rhythm of Youth tour) and 1985 (the Freeways tour).

The Freeways EP included 5 songs-- "Modern(e) Dancing", "Utter Space", "Antarctica" (a different version on Rhythm of Youth), "Security (Everybody feels better with)", and "Freeways (Euromix)." An extended version of the EP included 3 other versions of "Freeways," in French, German, and English. Of these, it appears that only "Freeways (Euromix)" was ever released on CD.

I would love it these were re-released on CD. I'd buy them in a second. The CD copies I have are old CD-Rs, from the days when CD burners were expensive and rare, and I don't know how long they'll last. I've made a backup, but I'd rather have a real CD of them. The 80's revival is here-- can we have good reissues of the old MWH material? How about a domestic reissue of Folk of the 80's (Part III) and Rhythm of Youth? You CAN buy them on CD, from Canada (and I have), but not in the US. And the Freeways material appears to be totally unavailable anywhere.

"Utter Space" is one of my favorite MWH songs ever, and was also released as a B-side on the "I Got The Message" single. This is the version from Freeways. The other two are live versions from the Freeways 1985 tour, another otherwise-unavailable Freeways track and the live version of their cover of Roxy Music's "Editions of You."

Utter Space
Security (Everybody feels better with) (Freeways 1985)
Editions of You (Freeways 1985)


The second thing I'm going to post today I, well... I guess I found it somewhere. It's a mashup, or, as we called them in the 80's, a "megamix." And once I get set up for recording from vinyl, I'm going to post my TOTALLY AWESOME Depeche Mode/Nitzer Ebb/Front242/oh and some Laibach for good meaure megamix 12" I picked up a few years ago. Yeah, I can hear you drooling out there.

This is floating around on the internet, usually labelled "Eins Zwei Mix (Long Version)." Some misguided fool seems to have decided it must be somehow related to Einstuerzende Neubauten, which seems to imply that they've never even listened to Einstuerzende Neubauten.

In it, I can pick out Front242 (I guess that 10 minutes of raw beat on the Never Stop! EP was useful after all), Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, Enya, Delerium, Art of Noise, Erasure, Mo-Do, and, to tie it in with Men Without Hats, a good chunk of one of Ivan Doroschuk's solo releases. Yeah. I have no idea who made it, but they sure did a good job.

Here you go:

Eins Zwei Mix (Long Version)


...and, an administrative note: I am attempting to host these on gweep.net after all. If the bandwidth usage gets too high, I'll move them somewhere else.


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