Various Artists – The Minimal Waves Tapes Volume Two

January 01, 1970

(Stones
Throw)

 

www.stonesthrow.com/; www.minimalwave.com/

 

The
Minimal Waves Tapes Volume Two
continues on and expands on archivist Veronica
Vasicka’s obsession with 1970s and ‘80s DIY synth-based music, most of it made
by little known acts and either self-released or released on small, independent
labels in short runs. Minimal Wave is also the name of the label that Vasicka
founded to re-release choice rarities from said genre. 

 

Featuring
fourteen tracks from acts in Europe, Australia
and the U.S.,
Minimal Waves underscores how eclectic and far reaching the synth
revolution that washed over pop music in the 1970s and on into then ‘80s was,
and, of course continues to be. It’s nothing if not diverse, within the
parameters of what can be done with some analog synthesizers, a drum machine,
various other instruments, whatever recording technology was on hand and the
time to pull them all together. 

 

Some
acts like the Dutch combo Das Ding, France’s Philippe Laurent and Antonym from the U.K. stick
within shouting distance of dancey synth pop, for better or worse one of the
defining genres of the 1980s. Others, like Ende Shneafielt from The Netherlands
and Hard Corps from the U.K.
(one of two acts I’d previously heard of) swing more towards the industrial
side. “H.S.T.A” by Das Ding, “Dirty” by Hard Corps and “Fire” by Ruins (from
Italy) are the most club ready dance numbers. Those, along with “Japan Japan”
by the German Felix Kubin are probably the most professional sounding and
recorded acts here. 

 

Not
surprisingly, it’s hard to completely escape the shadows of other, better-known
pioneers of synth music. While no-one straight-up apes Kraftwerk, it’s hard to
ignore the debt that In Aeternam Vale clearly owes to Suicide, or how one of
two U.S. acts (along with Geneva Jacuzzi), Class Info, inhabits a space
somewhere between Cabaret Voltaire and Depeche Mode. The minimalist, ghostly
number “Presidente” by In Trance 95 (from Greece) conjures up memories of
everyone from Yello to the soundtrack work of John Carpenter. What’s also fun
is how the (seemingly) homegrown nature of acts like Ohama and Geneva Jacuzzi
have the strong scent of bedroom recordings wafting off of them. You can
practically hear the neighbors or their parents yelling at them to ‘turn it
down!’ 

 

All
in all, this is a very pleasing collection that must have been a blast for
Vasicka, working with Stones Throw’s Peanut Butter Wolf, to pull together from
what is a pretty vast field. Like it or not, the synths are here to stay, and The
Minimal Wave Tapes Volume Two
adds several more fascinating pieces to the
puzzle.

DOWNLOAD: “Japan Japan,”
“Fire,” “Dirty,” “Presidente,” “H.S.T.A.” CARL HANNI

 

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