Swedish synthpop is generally known to be fantastic, and Lust For Youth does a great job of continuing this stereotype. While I highly recommend you check out their full length albums (Perfect View and especially International have been on my heavy rotation for a few years now), their newest single is a downtempo number that reminds me of the best Martin Gore-helmed Depeche Mode songs. It’s fitting in perfectly with my leisurely, cat-cuddle filled Saturday morning, so I thought I’d share.
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:
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.
Moev have announced that they’re performing a live show at the Otalith Music Festival this August in Ucluelet, BC. I think their live shows are very few and far between these days, and I myself haven’t been able to catch them live before, so I’m beyond excited! I wanted to get the word out there about the show in case any other die hard fans can make it out. The event info is here, and I’ll end this post with a clip of what is probably my favourite Moev song ever:
After hearing a couple of tracks from Ghost Twin’s debut album last month, I was really excited to hear the rest of their material . Today is the official release of Here We Are In The Night, and I’m having a mini dance party to celebrate!
The opening track ‘Chymical Wedding’ is spooky synthpop at its best. Beautifully bleak lyrics give this song a really melancholy feel. Karen’s powerful vocals are in the spotlight here, perfectly conveying a feeling of yearning and loss.
‘Mystic Sabbath’ is the ultimate song choice if you need an anthem for your upcoming witches’ gathering. It’s also a prime example of fantastic dark synthpop. My boyfriend walked by as I was playing this song and said, “This is fun! Is it new Ashbury Heights?” I can definitely hear elements in ‘Mystic Sabbath’ that are also present in AH and other great synth-based bands that I love. And I love the contrast between Karen and Jaimz’s voices here!
The title track of this album sounds sorrowful, yet seductive. I especially enjoy the variety of haunting beep boops in this song! I’ve been finding myself humming the chorus all day, and consider this another of my favourites from the album.
‘The Vulture’ is a more downtempo song that showcases Jaimz’s powerful, gravelly vocals. In my mind, this is the song you put on when you spot that special someone across the room and must make them yours.
The second half of the album is comprised of remixes. Truth be told, I can be a little iffy on remixes, but these are well done. My favourite is the ‘We Are The Night (vvinter rainbovv remix)’. It incorporates some fun witchouse vibes, complete with lots of spooky wooooos.
All in all, I really recommend taking a listen to this release! It’s all up on Ghost Twin’s Bandcamp page now, and if you like what you hear there’s a few different options for purchasing the album. You can buy the digital download only, the CD, or a VHS of the first four tracks synced to their analog visuals. I heard a rumour that there might be a fun easter egg on there for Goths! fans, and their live visuals sound like they’re quite something, so that’s the option I chose to scoop up. Happy listening!
Are you ready for some gothik synthpop from Winnipeg? I know you’re intrigued. Karen and Jaimz Asmundson have started a fun dark electronic project called Ghost Twin. I’m loving both of their vocals and, as with most of the music I enjoy, the synth goodness. Right now you can hear the first couple of tracks from their upcoming release on their Bandcamp page, and I’m definitely looking forward to hearing the rest in April!
On a different, but tangentially related note – I’ve been rooting for these two to get together ever since Jaimz was sobbing about the disturbing lack of black lipstick and Karen was a hot dead goth girl. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please watch Goths! On The Bus! asap.
This week’s album on repeat is Signals From Afar by a fairly unknown 80s band called The Shortwave Mystery. A duo from California, in 1985 they apparently released a 12″ of the above song, Pilots, that was so unsuccessful that the majority of the records ended up in a landfill. How they didn’t take off is beyond me – their songs combine the best parts of synthpop and minimal-synth, with some EBM sprinkled in for good measure. However, due to resurging interest in the 80s synth scene, the band re-issued their songs into a full-length album a few years ago.
Signals From Afar is excellent from beginning to end – I haven’t been this excited about stumbling upon a band in at least a couple of months. Which actually says a lot. I get excited pretty often.
You can buy their releases directly from the label that re-issued them here.
Just stumbled upon Voltheque, a really neat synth project from Philadelphia. I’ve Known All Along, their second big release, has some songs with a fantastic 80s synthpop feel that I’m really loving. There’s a very diverse mix of moods on the album in addition to high tempo dance numbers – ‘The Bells’ is a spooky spoken word track, and ‘The Stillness’ has a swaying and hypnotic atmosphere that makes for a great closing song.
Listening to I’ve Known All Along in its entirety is kind of making my Friday. You can find it here at their Bandcamp.
Just a quick post about a great local band that played a show here in Vancouver last night. Fake Tears are a synthpop duo who play somewhat eerie tunes that are super catchy. They’re fun and I’m really enjoying the songs they have up on their Bandcamp page here, and looking forward to future releases from them!