Warsaw Ghetto – Nitzer Ebb (1985) Standalone double A-side single with the track, So Bright So Strong
Hailing from Chelmsford, Essex, Nitzer Ebb (pictured above) are famous for their snarky combination of brutal EBM synths and Soviet-esque marketing aesthetics. This single (catalogued à la Kraftwerk as a “Nitzer Ebb Produkt”) is a violent, throbbing dance number, vehemently anti-radio in both sentiment and sound. Douglas McCarthy, leader of the faux-kraut pack, paints a dreary picture of repressed living, stuttering stylistically, atoning harshly: “Struggling for murder / Murder from voice such / Revenge and freedom / Living a heartbreak”. It’s perhaps no wonder that Nizter Ebb went on to be hugely successful in Germany, eventually riding the Mute roster with synth-pioneers Depeche Mode, also from Essex, and similarly less successful in their native UK than in Europe. The original 12” of Warsaw Ghetto (a recent acquisition of mine for an unbeatable £1 in Exeter’s very own Rooster Records), is emblazoned with a fantastic, Vorticist style design, and runs for an ever-so-slightly uncomfortable seven minutes; thankfully, the band’s recent greatest hits features a sharply remastered and suitably frank 3:47 mix.
Neutralite The Hero – Disasterpeace (2013) Track from the album, Neutralite
I first discovered the musician known as Disasterpeace after watching David Robert Mitchell’s superb It Follows (2013), a supernatural horror film featuring a silent but deadly anagonist that only an affected few can see. It’s a great watch – but more than that, it’s a fantastic listen. Disasterpeace (real name: Richard Vreeland) creates gorgeous soundscapes in chiptune that transcend the gaudy gimmickry of acts like Anamanaguchi, to enevlop the listener in a bizarre and unstable electronic framework of glitches and racing arpeggios. It’s effect as the soundtrack to a horror film cannot be understated; it’s effect as the soundtrack to a video-game is something else entirely. I say “soundtrack to a videogame” – Neutralite is actually a concept-album insomuch as said video game is actually imaginary. Regardless, this story of “a young hero chosen by elders of Neutral Town to protect their village from the unfolding conflict between the Plaid and Argyle nations”, is a thoroughly and repeatedly enjoyable work of chiptune, featuring stellar melodies and incredibly crisp production that manages to utilise the gaps in Vreeland’s sequential compositions to incredible effect. Listen to everything this guy’s done – it’s great stuff.
Sour – Void Vision (2015) Single from the album, Sub Rosa
Enter Void Vision, riding the minimal wave of electronic music. This is surely some of the squelchiest sequencing I’ve heard in recent years, and a stunning homage to the entirety of European electronic music; Sour, with its ecstatic, pulsating rhythm, pays explicit homage to British New Romanticism, krautrock and Scandinavian cassette culture. My favourite thing about this song, is the fact that it was released in 2015 – proof that minimal wave, which is currently enjoying a resurgance under the careful nurturing some extremely dedicated, small-time independent labels, continues to be popular. Mannequin Records, the label responsible for Void Vision, is one-such label, and alongside their perogative to release analogue synthesiser music to the masses, equally admirable is their dedication to vintage aesthetics – Sour was release as a blue 12” single last year, with a fantastic horror-movie-like insert and bold, futuristic fonts. So what about the music? Well, take a listen – it’s a load of fat, juicy synths, reverb-laden soprano vocals and pristene, hammering digital drum. It is, in other words, quite excellent.
Eye Shadow – Colouroïd (2015) Track from the album, Long Play
More minimal wave now from Swedish synth-heads Colouroïd, the masterminds behind yet another darkwave label – Flexiwave. This, the best track on their debut album, is only the label’s tenth release, but it’s a sign of good things to come. Eye Shadow opens with very sharply produced saw waves, arpeggiating excitedly over synth-bass – immediately, you can hear the Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk records in these guys’ record crates. Quickly, the mix escalates into a blenderful of electronic noise, with twinkling lead-synth lines and broad, atmospheric waves gradually materialising and adding a wealth of depth to the sound. Like all good minimal synth music, Colouroïd lack the lyrical sincerity and sharp wordplay that defines some of my favourite indie guitar music – they manage however, in doing so, to perfectly capture the superflous pretence of European electronica, combining sweet Swedish melody with universal dance sensibilities. I’d go so far as to call this track one of the best works of modern electronic music ever.
Best You’ve Ever Had – Teddybears feat. Gorilla Zoe (2016) Single from the album, Rock On
“As we were working on some music with Cee-Lo in Atlanta, I stumbled upon an ad that someone sold home-grown vegetables,” Teddybear’s Jocke Åhlund told Consequence of Sound. “When we arrived it turned out that this someone was actually none other than Gorilla Zoe, a really dope rapper from Atlanta. We bonded really quickly and of course we invited him over to the studio where he laid down a couple of bars over a synth-riff. The riff itself I originally wrote as a hard-rock riff for electric guitar when I was 14 years old. The rest is history.” Now, before this song, I’d actually never heard of Teddybears, though I have to admit, I am now something of a fan. Yeah, ok, the half-rapped, half-badly-sung lyrics are a bit dumb – that’s one great chorus however, and the deep, hard-edged synths on this track have made it one of my picks of 2016 thus-far. It’s relatively little-known right now, which is amazing given that its better than any mainstream club release the year has had to offer thus-far. Not as artsy as minimal wave perhaps, Best You’ve Ever Had is surely the dirtiest electronica moment of the month; get dancing – Teddybears command it of you.