Subscribe: A Viable Commercial
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
Language: English
album  band  great  listen  music  new  punk  record  records  released  side  song  songs  sound  synth  synthpop  track 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: A Viable Commercial

A Viable Commercial

Obscure and unknown 80s post punk, minimal wave, electropop, new wave, and other stuff...

Updated: 2018-01-17T13:48:11.671-08:00


Cerebral Hemorrhage: Back in 1984 EP


       Astonishingly and inexplicably, this is a record that has flown under the radar of pretty much every minimal synth collector out there - aside from a popsike entry from a few years ago and a couple other mentions of its existence, info on this record is nonexistant. At a recent record fair, the dealer selling this 12" saw me looking it up on discogs on my phone, and told me "unfortunatly that won't help - I made that entry". And since his copy was sealed, he hadn't even been able to hear it firsthand.Still, it had the signature of an interesting record:Cool band name (Cerebral Hemorrhage)Promising title (Back in 1984)Great label name (Illusion Records)Intriguing song titles (Let's Modulate, Night Music)And a strange icon of a stoic face with the caption "Big Brother is watching YOU"       How could anyone resist that? I certainly couldn't - and when I put the needle on the record and heard 20 seconds of tinny drum machine plink-plonks before falling into a steady stream of pulsating synths, I was immensely satisfied. Through a bit of research I pieced together a few potentially-incorrect factoids about the record and band. It was ostensibly a one-man project by a guy named Dennis Hurley. This record was the third put out under the Cerebral Hemorrhage moniker. Two preceeding albums - an EP from 1981 and a double-LP from 1983 - appear to be almost as scarce than this one. (there might be a fourth record that came out around the same time as Back in 1984 too, but I'm not sure) However, whereas those records apparently incorporated lots of guitar and sound more like Hawkwind-style prog, there is nary a guitar to be found on this record, which appears to be re-recorded all-synth versions of songs from the earlier records.       The two sides of the record are different animals - the second side is largely ambient and instrumental, and much more experimental. It comes across as highly influenced by Cluster and other 70s-era Krautrock bands. They're good songs, and they have interesting titles, but are not nearly as sonically wonderful as the A-side.       The two tracks on the first side of the record pack a great one-two punch of electronics and lyrics of Cold War fear. After a minute and a half of synths and drums, the vocals suddenly kick in, singing about 1984's (the year, not the book) alternate history, in which after Reagan's re-election the US descended into nuclear war with the Soviets. The lyrics repeat "where were you?" at the moment world was annihilated. It's a great track that ends with a gurgle of synths before being interrupted by a nuclear explosion, and suddenly the second track begins. Where the first track asked "where were you?" at the world's end, the second track is a repetitive litany of memories from before the destruction: "there were buildings / there were faces / there were cities / there were towers / there was sunlight"... you get the gist. Both tracks are absolutely great for synth nerds, coming across like a crossbreed of League of Nations-ish minimal synth and the bedroom lonerisms of John Bender or Kevin Lazar.       If anyone has Cerebral Hemorrhage's previous two records  I would love to hear them. Even if they're more prog-rock, I'm interested in seeing the progression toward this undiscovered minimal synth gem. I'd be surprised if this one doesn't end up on quite a few wantlists in the coming years. If anything, this one proves that there are still some diamonds out there - maybe they're just hidden in plain white sleeves with minimal information.Cerebral Hemorrhage: Back in 1984 12"1984, Illusion RecordsTracks:A1 Back In 1984 A2 I Remember B1 Let's Modulate B2 The Chilly Dance B3 Night MusicClick here to listen![...]

Commercial Music: Volume 4


 Six years. I never would have thought when I started this thing way back in 2007 that I'd still be updating it after a half-dozen years! A lot has happened in the interim - I've even moved across the country from SF to New York - but my love of music has not diminished at all. I still love to share music with others, and as my collection grows, so too does my resources of records and songs to post on this blog. Today, for a sixth anniversary, it seems like a good idea to post another homemade compilation.
(image) This one certainly has a lot of odds and ends within it. There's Hungarian synthpop (KFT and GM49, the latter of whom has reissued most of their catalog on MP3 and is rather enjoyable, if cheesy). There's a rare song from the unreleased second Autumn Cathedral LP. It's the best of the 3 songs I've heard from that album, and it makes me really want to hear the rest of them. There's a cover of Voice Farm's "Modern Things", done by the guitarist from Japanese synthpop band The Plastics, found on a scarce picture disc. There's cheesy synthpop from a band called Press, whose album "The Low Hum of Machines" is not as promising as it sounds, but still has one great track.
Post punk/DIY fans will like the Louder Animal Group song, taken from a one-sided flexi. There's a track from the second Bluenose B 12". Unfortunately the other songs aren't nearly as good as their debut. There's weird dark avant-folk-synth from a guy called Breikreutz, a synthpop smash from Shades of Grey, and a practically unheard-of minimal synth demo from the singer of B-Movie, which sounds similar to early Eyeless In Gaza.
Hopefully there's something that everyone will like. Unless you only like twerk-wave, in which case what are you doing reading this?

PS. I promise that will be the only time I ever mention "twerk", unless twerk-wave becomes a genre.

Click here to twerk listen!

Kalashnikov: Ravaged Mind 7"


For your listening pleasure this week is a little 2-song 7" from 1986 by a Swedish band called Kalashnikov. Similar to their Spanish namesakes from the same era, this band also released a single synth 7" and then disappeared. The A-side of this disc is an enjoyable synth-funk 7" somewhat similar to With Sympathy-era Ministry (except when it suddenly goes into a completely infectious new wavey chorus). It's a fun track, although the indulgent and superfluous guitar solo near the end ruins it a bit for me.
The B side, Wailing Squad, is the superior song, though. With layers of synth and keyboards lines and great vocals (aside from somewhat ill-advised chanting during the chorus). It's a pretty great synth jam, and (if I had owned this 7" back when the Wierd party was still happening) would have made regular appearances in my sets. Alas, it will have to make a regular appearance on my iPod playlists instead.

Kalashnikov: Ravaged Mind 7"
1986, K Rec
A: Ravaged Mind
B: Wailing Squad

Click here to listen!

The Show: Enjoy Sensations 12"


I'm back on U.S. soil after traipsing around Europe with my girlfriend for the majority of September. Naturally, we visited many, many record stores, and some gambles with cheap unknown records certainly paid off, I'll be sharing some of those in the coming months, starting with this post punk/darkwave obscurity by The Show.
The Show were a German band who released their sole 12"/7" on a small Spanish label, Pasarela (a label whose only legacy that I knew of was the release of the extremely rare "Untitled" compilation) . The Show's use of synths, great dark guitar hooks, and drum machines
(especially on the excellent track My Sensation) puts them in good company, reminding me of dark post-punk bands like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and BFG. I'm a bit surprised this record has flown under the radar for so long (although the title track has at least found its way to youtube), as it's a pretty great little piece of post-punk.

The Show: Enjoy Sensations 12"
1988, Pasarela Records

A1 My Sensation
A2 Daily Market
B1 Mankind

Click here to listen!

Wagner: A Way Of Life EP


When you look at this cover, you just KNOW that it has to be synthpop. Nobody but a synth nerd would dress like a Victorian Michael Jackson conjuring a ring of fire. It certainly did not disappoint me upon first listen. Glorious, cheesy synthpop abounds in this 4-song EP.
 The Third Day of Sorrow and its dance mix are good midtempo synth tracks (although I wish more emphasis was placed on the rhythm...). Visions of You co-opts a synth line from Enola Gay, but in an incredible cheesy manner. And Dust is the true gem on the album - a somber synthpop track that's just perfectly 80s-sounding, somewhat reminscent of Rational Youth. Sometimes it's fun to discover a good old-fashioned synthpop record - and this EP isn't a bad place to start.

Wagner: A Way of Life EP
1986, Novus Records

A1 The Third Day Of Sorrow
A2 Dust
A3 Visions Of You
B The Third Day Of Sorrow (Dance Mix)

Click here to listen!

Boys Say Go: 7" and 12"


There's an old cliche that says you mustn't judge a book by its cover. Likewise, you often shouldn't judge a band by their name. This, however, is NOT one of those cases. Boys Say Go sound exactly like a band named after an early DM song should sound like. Their music is bouncy electro-pop that is infectious as hell, if sometimes a bit cheesy. You may remember them from the Hit The Floor comp I posted a few years back.
 Their 1984 debut 7", Joey and Maria, is almost impossible to find (I have seen only one copy for sale in about 12 years). The A-side reminds me of Tone Set's "Living in Another Land", both stylistically and thematically. Love is Dangerous is a perfect counterpart to the A-side, with its gurgling synths and imminently catchy songwriting.
Their 12", Humanity, is from the following year, by which time they had adopted a more well-produced electro sound. Despite being their last release, it sounds a bit more dated than their 7", but that might just be a result of my preference for the more lo-fi sound of their debut. Still, Humanity is a fun track, and Holy War is actually a great synthpop dancefloor smash with just a touch of With Sympathy-era Ministry funkiness. The band faded into obscurity after the 12", with their records slowly trickling into the hands of synthpop fans like myself. If you want a perfect dose of well-crafted, fun synthpop, you could certainly do worse than Boys Say Go. Listen and enjoy.

Joey and Maria 7"
1984, Gender Records
A Joey and Maria
B Love is Dangerous

Humanity 12"
1985, Gender Records
A Humanity
B Holy Way (D-D-Dance Mix)

Listen to both here!

Innervoice: Nobody Knows EP


Here's an oddity that has slipped under the radar of most synth and new wave fans. I could say that NOBODY KNOWS about this EP, but that would be stupid. Instead, I'll just say that it's a strange and uneven EP from a trio of French Canadians. I cannot find any info about any of them whatsoever, so it appears this was a self-released effort by people who didn't move on to any other projects. In fact, the only relation to any record that I can find is that this was recorded at the same studio as the Janitors Animated 12" shared by Crispy Nuggets several years ago.
The music on this EP emphasizes rhythm, with little to no melody. It actually slightly reminds me of Iron Curtain in that regard - it's simplistic, repetitive, and groove-oriented synth music. The vocals are a different story though - they are often animated and forceful. The lyrics are sung in broken English, and are rather simplistic (sometimes bordering on silly - sample lyric from Too Direct: "You say I / I'm too direct / just loving and caring and sharing things / touching and glowing and feeling feeling feeling". Despite the obvious shortcomins in the lyrics department and the lack of ambition in the musical composition, it's still somehow a rather enjoyanle record.

Innervoice: Nobody Knows EP
1986, 3rd Wave Coll.

A1 Nobody Knows
A2 Shadows
B1 Too Direct
B2 Don't Go Too Fast

Click here to listen!

The Unknown: The Unknown LP


I describe a lot of bands that I post about as "unknown". It's a decent descriptor - many bands are heretofore completely unknown outside of the artists who recorded them and a few friends and collectors. Well, this band from Baltimore is literally unknown - as in The Unknown.This record is more or less un-googleable since it's by a band called The Unknown, and the album is selftitled. Even their German namesakes are much easier to find online! This post is a joint post with Systems of Romance - this is their debut, and their excellent follow-up album can be found right over here.I came across this album on a recent trip to that ultimate vacation paradise... Baltimore. The record looked interesting, and the 5 seconds I got to hear in the store was enough for me to buy it. The first time I listened to it in its entirety I was wholly impressed. Tracks on the album sound similar to For Against, Unforgettable Fire-era U2, Sport of Kings, Grapes of Wrath, and other similar melancholy guitar-based post punk bands. Even the weaker songs are only weak relative to the strength of the others, and it was initially hard to choose a favorite song. The record starts off with Eternity, a surf-post-punk sound reminiscent of Abecedarians; The Clock, with its dissonant guitar screeches is certainly impressive, and when the band explodes during the chorus I can imaging it must have been excellent to see live. But the closing track, Songinsee, somehow manages to span 6 minutes and still feel too brief, and it's the one that I found myself listening to on repeat. With several layers of shimmering guitars and lyrics about longing and loneliness, it's pretty much a perfect solemn pop song.I'm uncertain how it escaped the ears of producers and record company execs and propel the band to stardom. It was 1987, so perhaps they thought The Unknown's sound was dated - it's certainly not as hip as mountains of teased hair, spandex, and novelty songs about cherry pie and girls, girls, girls who're smoking in the boy's room. But hopefully this post will give the song, and the album as a whole, a tiny bit of the recognition it deserves.The Unknown: The Unknown LP1987, Fetal RecordsA1 Eternity A2 I Wonder Why A3 Perfect Ground A4 The Clock B1 Dear Mrs. Jones B2 Slow Song B3 Salvation B4 SonginseeClick here to listen![...]

Sinking Ships: Dream 7"


Here is the rare second 7" from Lincoln, England's Sinking Ships. The band released only a handful of recordings in their brief existence - two 7"s and a couple compilation tracks - so their songwriting never really had a chance to evolve. It's a shame, because each song touches upon a different style. Their first 7", Cinema Clock - which can be found over at Systems of Romance with a brand new, high-quality rip - featured a Wire-esque post punk banger and a more anthemic pub-punk song.

This record features a questionable choice for a B-side: a long live dirge that changes little over its six minutes and could have benefitted from a studio recording and could have been shortened by a few minutes. It renders the B-side rather low in sound quality since it's spread so thin - and it's already a rather cheap pressing.  The A side, Dream, is my favorite song of theirs along with Cinema Clock. It takes the arty atmospherics of early MOdern English, throws in sax a la Psychedelic Furs (perhaps a result of having opened for the Furs on their early tours); the result is a brief, dark DIY post-punk song that could have been a classic.

Sinking Ships: Dream 7"
1980, Recession Records
A: Dream
B: After the Rain (live)

Click here to listen!

Apex Curve: Territory EP


Despite this blog's tendancy to highlight the obscure synthpop, post punk, and new wave records from the 80s, I have a soft spot for 1990s synthpop. When I was in high school and college, Cause and Effect, Celebrate the Nun, Seven Red Seven, Mesh, De/Vision, and the first Iris album were my soundtrack. I bought all the CDs by Red Flag and Anything Box, not just their debuts. Hell, I even had a Red Flag T-shirt at one point. So while that sometimes belittled, often forgotten era of synthpop may be underrepresented on this blog, I suppose this post is a small way to remedy that.
Apex Curve was a synthpop trio from San Jose that featured Steve Smith, founder of the Razormaid-inspired Art of Mix series of DJ-only remix albums. The EP only has 3 songs, although 2 of them have remixes and extended versions (I suppose remixes would be inevitable given the Art of Mix relation). The song "This Time" is a bit of a bland throwaway track. "Treachery" is more interesting; it's an imperfect midtempo synthpop song, but has a nice chorus. There are a couple remixes of the track, too, including a 7" remix - which is weird, because I don't believe Apex Curve released anything aside from this CD. But the real winner is Sunday, a melancholy danceable synthpop smash that sounds like it was recorded after a 24-hour marathon listening session of Violator, Naive Art, and Anything Box's Peace. The Club mix of the song is similar to a lot of the Art of Mix releases (reflecting Steve Smith's input on the band), with its extended intro, slightly muted vocals, and emphasis on the drums and the beat. It's the mixes of this song that make this CD a gem and fetch rather high prices for a CD.

Apex Curve: Territory EP
1991, Art of Music International

1 Sunday
2 Treachery
3 This Time
4 Treachery (Extended Mix)
5 Sunday (Club Mix)
6 Treachery (7" Re-Mix)

Click here to listen!

Famous Rays: Ending Beginning LP


The first time I saw this LP, I knew it had to be by a New York band. Anyone who has been to NYC can be easily confused by the similarly-named-but-not-at-all related pizza places called "Famous Ray's" "Original Ray's", "Famous Original Ray's", or (as Kramer discovered), simply "Ray's Pizza". As it turns out, the band was from the UK originally, but moved to NYC in the late 80s to seek better opportunities.Famous Rays released this record in 1990, and from what I can find, this is the only thing they ever released.By most standards, 1990 is a rather late year for a DIY post punk album to be released. You probably know the kind of record I mean - the kind that combines relentless experimentation, amateurishness, and variety of non-punk instruments (synths and sax being especially common). Bands as diverse as 48 Chairs, Beyond the Impload, Vice Versa, Androids of Mu, Desperate Bicycles, and countless thousands others all fell into this "genre". Well, Famous Rays can be counted as a VERY late addition to that DIY group (and indeed, an earlier incarnation of the band, Romford Stompers, was part of the fertile UK DIY scene). Famous Rays carried the lo-fi, avant-garde, synthpop-meets-post-punk-meets-jazzy-noise-meets-goth of their forebears into the neon years of the early 90s.As with pretty much all of these records, there's a combination of strong and weak tracks. After a brief spoken-word intro the songs start off with the lyrics "I am looking through a synthesizer" on Hard Times. With a somewhat bouncy beat, it's a nice 100% minimal synth track that sounds 10 years too late. The next couple songs on the syn-drums and throw a wall of cascading, noisy guitars into the mix. Then there's a slow dark ambient synth interlude before delving into No Recognition, probably the most poppy song on the album. The song is musically similar to early Cure, but with the keyboards and arty weirdness of early Modern English (it's not as good as either of those bands, of course, but had it been released in 1980 I can guarantee it would have been on many "UK DIY Top Ten" lists.)The following songs range from sax-and-synth skronk (Deception Island) to dark synth noise with spoken word (Wealthy Not Healthy) to almost deathrock sounding (Move By Dance), which combines syn-drums, heavy and noisy guitars, and sax similar to Ipso Facto. Overall, it's a highly unique album that (at the moment) is readily available very cheaply online. Perhaps others will like what they hear here and decide to pick up a copy. Or perhaps the late release date of this record will turn off people and the album will toil in the cheap bargain bins of obscurity, relegated to a few crackly mp3s that forever float in the aether of the Internet.Famous Rays: Ending Beginning LP1990, Blue Dot Records1 The Sky Belongs To The Sun 2 Hard Times 3 Agents Of Change 4 Absolute Zero 5 Uphill 6 No Recognition 7 Deception Island 8 Black Dress 9 Wealthy Not Healthy 10 Release - For Bitten 11 Blue World 12 Move By Dance 13 The Great DiscoveryNote: Many of these songs are only a few seconds long, or blend indistinguishably into one another, so I've combined several songs together in the rip.Click here to listen![...]

Providence: Le Feu 7"


At this point I should not be surprised when a good record continues to slip under the radar over a decade after file sharing became the de rigueur way to hear new sounds. But this little 7" from a French band called Providence is certainly a worthy example of why it's sometimes worth taking a chance on an interesting-looking record when you see it for sale.
Providence was a trio that consisted of two members of a cult French prog band called Gutera. Gutera's sole album is somewhat of a legendary and rare LP in that scene; about half a decade after their record was released, the members Didier Geoffrey & Zo Strinati started Providence. It appears that they might have released an album, but I have never seen nor heard that. Until such an album surfaces, enjoy this 7". While the B-side is somewhat generic new wave rock, the A side, Le Feu, is a wonderful coldwave/touching pop song in the vein of contemporaries like Little Nemo, Resistance, Mome Rath, with synths and hooks aplenty. It's a wonderful melancholy pop song that makes you hope that an LP does exist somewhere out there - and that it is full of more songs like Le Feu.

Providence: Le Feu 7"
1987, M.S. Records

Click here to listen!

Stranger to Stranger: Darkest Dreams LP


After a hiaitus (again) I realized that I miss writing about and sharing obscure vinyl nuggets (not to be confused with Obscure Vinyl Nugent, the BDSM-themed Ted Nugent cover band). I still have plenty of records to share, starting with this virtually unknown second LP from Philadelphia-based Stranger to Stranger. You can find a fresh, clean rip of their debut on Systems of Romance. While their first LP is a collection of wonderful (if monochromatic) dark synth-based post punk that's high on atmosphere but low on pop sensibility, their follow-up is much janglier, and, well, almost pop-sounding. That's not to say that they've abandoned their darkwave roots; they just became a bit less enigmatic.
There are definitely some gems on the record - Summer Winter starts the album off perfectly, a guitar-heavy post-punk track with some slight hits of Darklands-era JAMC; the title track is a somber, beautiful song that rewards repeat listens; The Only Pleasure and The Freedom Beat are both tuneful tracks layered and sprinked with synths that recall The Sound; Life After Birth is their most aggressive track, approaching the style of early Furs. Where the band's debut LP was stuck in a singular style, the follow-up expands upon myriad influences. Even if the results are sometimes imperfect, if there's one quality that Darkest Dreams has that their debut was lacking, it's stylistic dynamics. Of course, this long-lost Obscure Vinyl Nugent (oops!) is well worth a listen, so get it now...

Stranger to Stranger: Darkest Dreams LP
1989, Strange Productions
Summer Winter
The Darkest Dreams
No More Heroes
The Only Pleasure
The Freedom Beat
Ignore My Heart
Can Time Stand Still
I Will Remember
Life After Birth

Click here to listen

Crashblack Big Orange: Naked Man LP


     Sometimes you have to redefine your idea of a “prime” era of good music in order to find music you love. For the longest time I was extremely wary of records from the late 80s and early 90s. There was so much CRAP issued around that time, as hair metal extended its Aqua Net-doused tentacles and electronic music traded in its experimentalism for digitalized rhythms and its vocals for the sound of a thousand  ravers sucking on pacifiers in an ecstacy-induced fury.      But I have been occasionally finding records from this forsaken era. It was, after all, a great time for shoegaze. And the French coldwave/touching pop bands of the time were quite good.. The Juju mini LPfrom 1989 is a masterpiece, and both records by Intelligence Unit from 1989 and 1991 are excellent and unique. Well, Chicago band (and Intelligence Unit labelmates) Crashblack Big Orange can certainly be added to the category of great post-punk from this time. In fact, I'd say they were one of the best dark post-punk bands of not just their era, but ANY era. Here's a sample: allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="175" src="" width="300">      Crashblack Big Orange (don’t worry, their name literally does not mean anything) was a husband and wife duo that rose from the ashes of a couple other bands, The Hail Marys and Unknown Pleasures. I found an interview in which they cited Killing Joke and Xmal Deutschland as their biggest influences and, well, it shows (and that alone should get you to download this post haste). I’d also add Skeletal Family to that list; Crashblack’s guitars are often quite remisncent of them. Both members share drum program duties, and both sing as well. He sounds a bit like an early UK goth-punk singer (think Twisted Nerve or UK Decay) and she sounds a bit Siouxsie-ish. The combination of male and female vocals (both of whom are actually good) is one of the things that sets this band apart from so many others. And the extended guitar intros, outros, bridges, and solos could sound a bit jammy if they didn’t completely kick ass, weren’t chock-full of distortion, or did not have that perfect darkwave tone to them. Even the basslines are memorable (and is it just me, or does the bassline of the lead track “Trust” sound like the bass from Secession’s classic “Betrayal”?) Here's another song of theirs: allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="175" src="" width="300">    The band released at least 3 demo tapes before this LP. Most of those songs were released on this LP, although I would love to hear them if they’re demo versions. And at least one Iain Burgess –produced tape has some exclusive songs on it. The band later shortened their name to Crashblack, although I have not heard anything from that incarnation. If anyone out there has anything else from them – or demo tapes from  Unknown Pleasures or The Hail Marys, I’d be interested in hearing them!Crashblack Big OrangeNaked Man LP1990, Cold Grey Matter RecordsListen here![...]

New posts and reuploads!


After a couple months of not posting, I’ve finally decided to make some more posts! I’m not going away any time soon… after five years (!!!!!) of this blog, there’s STILL loads of unknown music out there. The two posts below from The French and Electric Avantgarde are brand new, and I’m also (slowly) reuploading many of the expired links that people have requested over the past couple months. Starting with:

...and one record that kept on triggering a certain file-sharing site’s guard-bots to take the file down even though it’s a completely unknown record and I’ve posted other records of theirs with no issues, and which I will only refer to here as “some New Jersey synthpunk  band”: get it here.

Feel free to request any other re-ups on the original posts or on this post… I will try to get to them!

The French: The Model 7”


The French were a band from England (um...  where else?) in the early 80s who released a couple 7”s on their own label and then disappeared. Like many bands at the time they were a post punk band featuring angular guitars and stabs of synths and plucky basslines and even the occasional sax. While it’s not the most original style, it’s the type of sound that I love, and I’m willing to bet that many of you appreciate it as well. It’s always nice to unearth another nugget of post-punk gold.
Their first 7” features a cover of Kraftwerk’s “The Model”. It’s a bit of an odd choice – the song had come out only a few years prior – but they actually make it sound pretty great. In fact, it’s one of the best covers that I’ve heard in a long time, as it sounds very different from the original but still captures a raw urgency that seems to be lacking from the many rote covers that abound. The song is built upon a tinny syn-drum and slices of guitar and bass. The strangest part of the song are the synths that randomly are thrown on top of the entire affair – they are loud, haphazard, and sound almost exactly like the sound Pac-Man makes when he’s caught by a ghost.
The band’s other songs are originals. Set Me On Fire is a great (if thin-sounding) track with simplistic synth pulses and flourishes of sax on top of great guitar lines and vocals. It’s certainly a favorite in the house of Goutroy.
I’ve also included the A-side of their second single, The River Flows East. It’s also a pretty good song, trading in the angular and arty sound for a more groove-oriented sound in the style of bands like APB. Unfortunately my copy is currently in storage and I don’t have a rip of the B side, but from what I remember it sucked. So I’m sparing you a song that you’d just end up deleting anyway.

Electric Avantgarde: Lonely 12”


(image) Hailing from the college town of Freiberg in Germany, where I obtained this 12” while travelling earlier this year, Electric Avantgarde was a duo who made amateur yet enjoyable synthpop. If the band is remembered at all, it is for a tape they released on the long-enduring Danse Macabre Records  in 1990. This 12” predates that tape by a few years, and has two mixes of a song called “Lonely”.
While the band’s later material (at least the songs that I have heard) are more guitar-oriented goth rock, “Lonely” is completely enjoyable – albeit unabashedly cheesy -- electro-pop/Euro dance. Think Mysterious Art or Dead or Alive or Secession and you’re halfway there. The group was led by a guy who mysteriously (or pretentiously) went by the name Mozart. He sings in a weird combination of a girlish falsetto and a forceful masculine style.
The B side is just a dub mix of the A-side, because every band apparently had to have a dub mix back in the 80s. It’s not as good as the original mix. This song may not be for everyone , but those of us who have a soft spot for the occasional unironic dance track will enjoy it!

Electric Avantgarde: Lonely 12”
1988, self-released

New Law Nightmare: S/T EP


New Law Nightmare was a project from the late 80s fronted by a guy named Rik Savering. The act is probably most notable for having two great darkwave songs on a couple of the excellent Grindstone Compilations (um... re-upload to come soon, I suppose). There is almost no mention whatsoever of this 1988 EP, aside from some store that has a copy for sale on a couple online sites. This has completely escaped notice from pretty much everyone. Now, we can’t let that continue, can we? 
                When I found this in a local store recently, I was immediately grabbed by the somber dark “touching pop” style of the first song, Witch Trial. With some truly remarkable synth lines and perfectly emotive vocals, it’s a wonderful song. Other songs mix a bit more guitar into the sound – in some cases I’d prefer the songs without it. “Upper ten”, for example, is a great dark synthpop song, but the short guitar solos stand out a bit too much, especially since they are so loud in the mix. Even so, the guitar-heavy songs aren’t bad… it’s just that the instrument is more prominent than necessary and stands in sharp contrast to the melancholic synthpop with which it’s paired.
Fortunately, the formula does work wonders on the final song, “Only As”, with an unstoppable beat and synth line, and whose shrieks and wails of guitar actually work to enhance the track. Overall, this is a good EP with a couple excellent tracks, and several valiant attempts that just didn’t quite get the right balance of sounds. I’d be interested to hear if he released anything else under this moniker – hopefully more songs on the caliber of Witch Trial are waiting to be discovered.

New Law Nightmare: S/T EP
1988, Vuv Records
A1 Witch Trial
A2 Upper Ten
A3 Say
B1 Déjà vu
B2 Fifteen Shadows

The Gallery: S/T LP


The Gallery were a Belgian band whose generic name has rendered them pretty much impossible to search for on the web. I don’t believe this has been shared or blogged about before, but who knows… I have found out that, quite confusingly, the band’s guitarist/keyboardist /producer Stephan Kraemer was in another unrelated band called Gallery in the early 80s. However, he is probably best known for his work as the guitarist/drummer of Zwischenfall. That group’s style of dark synthpop focused more on noisy but danceable electronics; The Gallery balance their synth use with more guitars. In this five-piece darkwave group, Kraemer worked with vocalist Iben Larssen and bassist Thomas Kuersten , both of whom worked with him on a few Zwischenfall songs (Iben Larssen provided the vocals to the 1984 English version of Flucht and Sandy Eyes), as well as contributing to tracks by Snowy Red and A Split Second. Keyboardist Nicolas Mansy later went to record with the short-lived alt/synth group Wasteland .
With such bona fides, the band has a lot to live up to and while the LP is a bit uneven at times, for the most part they do not disappoint. The vocals are usually haunting, with plenty of reverb and atmosphere. They suffer a bit on a few early songs when the band treads into more alt-rock territory replete with strained, yelled lyrics. Fortunately not too many songs take this stylistic deviation, and the best songs are reserved for the second side. The closing song, Nuthouse, is a midtempo track whose gloomy, beautiful chorus almost comes as a surprise. Crime Time is a full-force darkwave track that would sound perfect in any goth club set between Skeletal Family and The Veil. My favorite track on the album is the slow, stark “The Warning”, a vaguely Cocteau Twins affair which starts with sparse bass and drums before they’re followed up with cold synth chimes that sound like they’re channeling The Exorcist.

 The Gallery, S/T LP
1989, 150 BPM Records
Your Skin
 Better Days
Ballad of a Suburban Night
Fade Away
 The Warning
Crime Time

  Click here to listen!

The Intelligence Unit


This week I’m quite happy to share a couple very underrated records from a Chicago band called Intelligence Unit. They were around in the late 80s and early 90s and featured a wildly original and diverse array of sounds. There is certainly a lot to absorb here – there are elements of goth, synthpop, post punk, experimental, and gypsy folk music. This is one band who cannot be accused of lacking creativity or originality.The group was a quartet made up of multi-instrumentalists who played guitars, bass, percussion, synths, e-bow, keyboards, and more. They featured an extremely unique singer – he escapes the trappings of emulating vocalists of more established bands and lets his distinguished voice carry many of the songs. Nowhere is this more evident than on the killer darkwave masterpiece Havens Amoung Wastelands, the first song on their debut EP. It starts with an ambient soundscape before the guitars, synths, and punishing drum fills kick in, followed by his forceful vocals pushed up front and center, full of dragged vowels and occasional over-pronunciation. It took me a few listens before I began to really appreciate this style, and now I cannot imagine it sung any other way. I posted it to youtube as well... check it out here:  width="400" height="215" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>Their debut EP continues with more gems – Perimeter sounds somewhat influenced by the Chameleons; The Visionary is instrumental darkwave at its finest, and Venice is basically romantic Venetian gondola music with synths. The only misstep is Cinecila, which sounds a bit like a warmup session by a coffee shop jazz band.The band’s full length, Foundation, is an even more diverse affair. It starts with a great midtempo darkwave song, Lilith, which reminds me of late 80s/early 90s kindred spirits like Mute Angst Envy or Autumn cathedral or any number of the bands on the Lively Art label. The next song is another generic jazz retread (why?!) but it’s the only misstep on an otherwise solid and original album. Other gems include the slow, somber “Distance”, on which synths and sax kick in during the chorus for a wholly melancholy soundtrack to a midnight drive; “The Black Death” is a surprising melodic turn, with a more focused pop sensibility; “The Prison Ship” is a dark, unstoppable dirge, full of reverb and synths and guitars that fade in and out amoung any number of unknown and mysterious sounds; Reinette and Mirabel in Paris is a complete winner, sounding like a Parisian folk-waltz with layers of synths, twinkling gypsy guitars, and accordions.I don’t know if the band ever released anything after Foundation. I’ve gleaned that they may have written some songs after the album, so if anyone has anything else from them I would certainly love to hear it. In the meantime, satiate yourselves on these two wonderful releases!Click here to listen to both of their records![...]

Die Rote Fabrik: Incident EP


Here is a piece of Belgian darkwave from 1986 that has been long, long forgotten. Self-released and hand-stamped for an underground DIY feel, this is a record that is sure to please the hardened goth and DIY post-punk fan.
The record starts with the song “Murder”, which grows quickly from a few samples to a barrage of scratchy guitars and synth-drums start up, backed by a steady bassline. It’s a lo-fi but blistering goth track falls squarely between Screams for Tina and Section 25. “Give Me Your Love” is a much slower song that wallows in gloom and self-pity as the singer desperately pleads and begs for companionship. The song starts with a barebones structure of metronomic drums, single-note-bass, and lazy guitars until the last minute, when the guitar picks up, synths kick in, echoing the urgency in the singer’s voice. Side B starts with Pain, which features syncopated drum machines and layers of noisy guitars. Finally, the record closes with “Fast Living”, which is all stuttering drums and yelling vocals that compete futilely with a sheer wall of tinny no-chord guitar noise.
Two of the three members of Die Rote Fabrik later would later form Starfish Enterprises and add more electronics to their barrage of noise; later that group broke up when one of the members went on to record (quite prolifically) under the moniker Starfish Pool. The record is the one remnant of Die Rote Fabrik’s existence that I know of. It’s one of those records that feels a bit out of place – when it was released in 1986 it was too late to find an audience amongst its kindred spirits in the early post-punk scene; it was a bit too noisy to be popular in goth clubs, and it certainly was not poppy enough to garner any radio play. Hopefully people out there like this one… it has certainly grown on me. As an added bonus, a few copies can currently be found on discogs for relatively cheap!

Die Rote Fabrik: Incident EP

1986, self-released

A1 Murder
A2 Give Me Your Love
B1 Pain
B2 Fast Living

Prophet O’Haphazard: Cabaret Nostalgia EP


Here is the obscure second release from the somber German singer Prophet O’Haphazard, called Cabaret Nostalgia.I originally thought O'Haphazard was a girl, but it was actually the pseudonym of one  Oliver Gerling). His debut EP  - which is a must-have for underground synth fans - can be found on Capa Nostra Syndicate,  and is highly recommended.. The record’s album title gives a hint of what is in store on this record – gothic cabaret music mixes seamlessly with electronics and effected guitars and O’Haphazard’s wonderfully sullen, deadpan voice. At times his forceful but somewhat feminine voice recalls early efforts by contemporary artists like Molly Nilsson and Zola Jesus, but he’s less poppy than the former and more dynamic than the latter.You and Me Covered in Silence plods along like gyspsy funeral parlor music, while Sum Up To Suicide is a beautiful mesh of aching synth strings, stabs of guitars and sparse drumming that sums up to one of the most bleak songs ever. Side B kicks off with Prophet O’Haphazard proving his bona fides with an excellent cover of Thomas Leer and Robert Rental’s Monochrome Days. Magic Mushroom Kingdom starts off aimlessly before it turns into perhaps the first gothic minimal synth-psych song, sort of like Astaron mashed up with Red Temple Spirits. Sadly, despite being about a Mushroom Kingdom, it does not mention Mario or Luigi at all.Finally the album ends with a reprise of a song from her debut EP, Till I Hate You. Fittingly, this song is called Till I Hate You 2. You know, in case you weren’t sure he hated you the first time he sang it… well, he still does. Interestingly, while the title implies that it will be a bitter tirade against a lover who wronged him, it’s actually a slow, melancholy track with lyrics that drip with thoughts of heartache while the music retains an almost sweet hopelessness.Prophet O’Haphazard: Cabaret Nostalgia EP1989, Minstrel RecordsA1                           Moon Over A Town And A Yellow Flowerfield BehindA2                           You And Me Covered In Silence               A3                           Sum Up To SuicidB1                           Monochrome DaysB2                           Magic Mushroom Meadow        B3                           ´Till I Hate You ´2Click here to get it![...]

Commercial Music: Volume 3


It’s been a few weeks since I last shared something on this blog (that Spiff record is one of my recent favorites though). So I think the third “Commercial Music” collection of odds and ends – obscure B sides, demos, or good songs on otherwise mediocre albums – is certainly called for.This one is by far my favorite of these compilations. It’s the most diverse, and almost every song is solid, whether it’s an unheard demo song demo, a new band, or classic post punk. Here’s what’s in store for you:     Atoms for Peace were a Gainsville, FL based new wave band who self-released one album in 1985 and then.. nothing. The record is pretty obscure, and for the most part it has not held up as well as other new wave records. But the second song on the album, Pictures, is a total classic that builds intensely from a few acoustic guitar strums to a crashing Bunnymen-esque post punk song with some pretty cool vocal delays during the refrain.   Next is an extremely obscure Belgian band who self-released one LP in 1987 on the ominously-named “Mahomet’s Holy War” label.  Apparently only 50 copies of it were pressed, and it has been pretty unknown (obviously due to its scarcity) for many years. But their sole record is becoming more and more of a holy grail, and this song is a killer post punk song that sounds very similar to the great Dutch band Mecano – huge thanks to Lesypersound for this rip!       Next up is a forgotten UK new wave band. This song is the B side of their sole 12 inch from 1985. While the A side is really nothing special, the B side is excellent and falls squarely in the Flock of Seagulls vein of synthpop (admit it, you like it).     Work of Fiction released one song on one of those hundreds of local band compilations that were so prevalent in the 80s. They were from upstate New York. The vocals are quite cheesy (imagine Robert Smith crossed with Rick Astley), but the great synths on the song make it worthwhile.     Next up is a Missouri-based band who released one 12” EP  that contained three pretty standard AOR pop songs and one quite good new wave song with a nice repetitive synth rhythm.     That new wave song is followed up with a Florida-based goth band who had a few songs on various compilation records but have otherwises remained quite obscure. These guys were unapologetically, humorlessly goth. And while their earnestness may sound a bit cheesy now, this song inexplicably holds a place in my heart. My cold, black, unbeating heart.     Many of you will be familiar with the next band, whose style of industrial is heavily influenced by early Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, et al, with all the leather fetishism that comes with the genre. This song is from one of their extremely limited (13 copies only!) demo CDs that were sold on a 2008 west coast tour, when the "band" was just one person singing and thrashing around to prerecorded music.     We follow that song up with a Detroit band who, had one song on a completely unknown compilation the late 80s, and that’s pretty much it. It’s a shame, since this track “You Make It Hard” is a pretty great synthpop track somewhat in the vein of late-80s Depeche Mode.     Next is another Michigan band, Clambake, who recorded a couple extremely limited cassettes (including a Christmas album!) and faded i[...]

Spiff: Music At Last!


We cannot always judge a book by its cover, nor an album on its artwork. I know this from experience, as all record collectors surely do. I’ve purchased countless cheap records completely unheard, based upon their promising cover art, only to cringe when my needle hit the wax and the hideous sounds of Air Supply-esque wuss-wave spewed from the speakers. Conversely, sometimes an uninspired cover can actually hide a surprisingly excellent record. This record by Spiff is a perfect example. Although its simplistic cover looks like it may have come from a mid-80s AOR pop band from Iowa that recorded an album of soft rock jams with lyrics about how much they want to rip off your teal jumpsuit and muss up your feathered hair as they rock your body (gently, of course… they’re soft rockers, after all), in reality the record is a completely unknown, Southern Californian one-man synthpop extravaganza. While the prospect of late-80s synthpop leaves a very sour taste in most of our mouths, let me assure you that this guy was the genuine article. It sounds as if he worshipped in the church of Vince Clarke and Paul Humphreys. While other kids in his school band were learning to play Stars and Stripes Forever, he was trying to convince the music teacher that the composition sorely lacked a Jupiter 8 solo. And while other kids recited the US Pledge of Allegiance every morning at school, he probably sang Just Can’t Get Enough.Truly, there is not a dud on this album. The only criticism I really have is that it is not a very dynamic record – most songs are about the same BPM and sound vaguely similar to one another, and the same drum fill is used on almost every song. Of course, given the choice between listening to a slightly redundant late-80s record heavily influenced by Speak and Spell, or a third-rate Quiet Riot clone singing their last remaining brain cells out, I certainly prefer the former. And there are songs that stand out from the rest here – Phon is eminently danceable, with silly lyrics and samples of telephones ringing. Follow Me has an absolutely killer bassline and is prefect for any synthpop dance club (especially since most of the lyrics simply say “get up, get up, get up and dance”).The more I listen to this record, the more I appreciate the mysterious Spiff's completely earnest take on a style of music that was certainly passé when he released it. He was 10 years too late to enjoy any sort of renown with this record, and at least 10 years too early to take advantage of any sort of early-synthpop resurgence. In a way, I suppose he was one of the very first people to revive this style of electro-pop, albeit at the worst time possible (commercially, at least). At the beginning of “Clauge”, he declares “In the late 70s, no-one understood… there was a new age dawning. And this is what it sounded like” just before a barrage of (kind of cheesy) analog-sounding electronics smacks your ears. With this statement, you know that Spiff is trying desperately to recapture the sound of a bygone era. And I’ll be damned if he doesn’t succeed wonderfully.Spiff: Music at Last EP1989, self-releasedSpiff is on the way to re-releasing his music digitally! Check out this page for more info. [...]

Human Trapped Rhythms mLP


Here’s a release from 1985 that’s so far out in left-field that it has pretty much left the ballpark. Combining industrial noise with minimal electronics, mantra-like chants and primal screams, utterly unrefined singing and creepy tape loops - all of which come together in the most barebones of musical structures - this record is less a collection of “songs” than an amateurly sinister (or sinisterly amateur?) foray into avant garde atmospherics. Many of the tracks here are little more than synth lines over which male or female vocals sing, talk, shriek, or all of the above. Some sound a bit ridiculous and cross the terrain into simple pretension, but there are some tracks that are both stark and beautiful. “No Words” is about two or three notes played on the low end of a synthesizer, with the female vocalist slowly reciting poetic lyrics. “The Message” is the closest this record comes to an actual song, with thudding sparse industrial percussion, hints of an ominous rhythm in the background, and male vocals repeating the words “roll back… and die”. “Blood Run” is nothing more than white noise and chimes, as a cacophonic chorus of ghosts tunes their vocals. The title track is particularly odd and interesting, awash in sampled noise and echoing laughter, child’s-toy instruments, and vocals that vaguely recall traditional British folk music. It’s a pretty strange and slightly creepy track. It kind of sounds like those brief 5-10 seconds of hushed music played at the end of horror movie trailers. You know those trailers that begin with a narrator whose vocal tone implies profundity, but whose words are cliché, bordering on inane? They start with “In a world… where there is no line… between life and death”, and then there’s a minute of action and suspense scenes. Then the trailer cuts the sound to a minimum, and a quiet, spooky song (a song quite similar to the title track on this record) is the only sound in the theater, played at a low volume to build suspense, as the camera zooms in on a lone figure in an austere room illuminated by a moonlit window, and maybe the eerie music is accompanied by vocals of a little girl with a British accent, whose otherwise innocent and sweet singing sounds vaguely evil as the shadows of dying trees dance in the moonlight, playing across the mystery figure’s visibly trembling silhouette, and the camera moves slowly but steadily closer to them, and you wonder if the figure is perhaps the singing girl, or a monster, or a figment of someone’s imagination and then the figure slowly turns, and they're revealed to be a girl in her late teens, her vacant sheet-white face glowing a ghostly blue in the moonlight and the vocals fade and all music fades aside from a lone suspenseful shimmering note and then out of nowhere BAM!!!!! a sparkling vampire grabs the figure you realize it’s a trailer for a new Twilight movie. Goddamn it. Listen to the mLP here.[...]