While celebrity deaths don’t faze me much, David Bowie’s was pretty crushing. To have a small celebration of his life, some friends and I watched The Hunger and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. I’d never seen the latter, and was pleasantly surprised at the layers of meaning and fantastic soundtrack (not to mention The Kiss.) Even better, the movie reminded me of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s existence. I had heard and loved his film scores for years, but had no idea he was an actor (who wears his everyday new wave/glam makeup while playing a military captain, but whatever.) After a bit more digging I realized that not only does Sakamoto have a thriving solo career, but he was also a member of Yellow Magic Orchestra, who are pretty much the pioneers of synthpop in Japan.
Yellow Magic Orchestra was one of the first bands to focus on synth music in the 70s. While Kraftwerk was a big influence on them, they wanted their music to be “less minimalistic, made more varying use of synthesizer lines, introducing ‘fun-loving and breezy’ sounds, and placing a strong emphasis on melody in contrast to Kraftwerk’s statuesque ‘robot pop.'” Incorporating a lot of pop and italo-disco elements, YMO gained popularity worldwide with their innovative use of the newest synth technology and their great composition skills.
Here’s my favourite song by them, Key:
Chandra Oppenheim was 12 years old when she released her only EP, Transportation. Due to her talent and her young age she became a hit in the underground 80s new wave scene, and also collaborated with The Dance. One commenter online says, “I saw her perform either in 1980 or 1981 at a small club in Philly called Omin’s. She had a chaperone with her, and she had to finish her performance before 11 pm because of a curfew. Also, for someone so young she had terrific stage presence.” Add this to the list of things that make me wish time machines existed.
Chandra’s music is synthy, punky, and definitely worth a listen. Fortunately, her original 4 track EP was recently uploaded to Bandcamp with an added 4 previously unreleased tracks! Check out the album here.
Good news on this Friday the 13th – Automelodi has a Bandcamp now, and not only does it have his excellent 2nd full-length album, he also uploaded a single from last year that was previously hard to find. Lendemain acide no2 is fun, dancy and is the newest track available from Automelodi, so you bet I listen to it a lot while I wait for future releases!
It appears that this weekend somebody broke into the vehicle belonging to Animal Bodies and stole their gear. If you’ve been waffling on buying some of their music, now is a good chance to grab some and help them out while you’re at it. You can purchase their music here at their Bandcamp. Below is Sex Power, one of my favourite tracks from their most recent (and very amazing) album.
Although Molly Nilsson previously collaborated with John Maus and also has a large discography under her belt, I haven’t had the pleasure of hearing her music before today. The above song caught my attention for its macabre/romantic lyrics and minimal melody, and the other tracks I’ve listened to off of various releases are equally as wonderful. I can’t find much information about her, but some articles claim she was born in Sweden and currently lives in Berlin. I’m loving her powerful voice matched with her simple synth anthems. Her ‘These Things Take Time’ release is available on Spotify, and you can listen to/buy her other releases via her official website.
Frankie Teardrop of the fantastic Systems of Romance music blog has created a mix of entirely female-fronted projects in the coldwave, minimal and post-punk vein. It’s a great mix so I highly recommend giving it a listen, and check out the tracklist here for any artists you don’t recognize.
I discovered this fun band thanks to Pornograffity on last.fm. BXOPE (romanized to VHORE) is a new-ish band from Tomsk, Russia. BXOPE has a lot going for them – post punk style female vocals and guitars, drum machine and great synth work. Their songs are sometimes dreamy, sometimes frantic, always beautiful. The above track, Кафка (Kafka), is filled with absurdist poetry lyrics and a carefree attitude.
Unfortunately there’s only a few songs up on their Bandcamp as of now. I was lucky enough to receive a full album of theirs, and after a listen I think you’ll want to keep an eye on this band if Russian style post punk/synth wave bands are your thing. Also very tough to find any info on this band online (in my case, because my Russian comprehension is zero), however here’s what appears to be their official webpage.