Friday, July 16, 2010
As editor here, I’m amazed at how much stuff we’re offered that I turn down. Actually, the turndowns wildly outpace the things we cover or the stuff we giveaway. We could be supremely busy and chock full of content if it weren’t for the damn filter that’s often employed.
Which is why I’m pleased this morning to recommend Sunday’s ‘No Love Lost’ at Velvet Lounge, curated by Fan Death’s Sean Gray and No Control!’s Denman Anderson. Short of all the vinyl and record store chatter, this is the stuff we planned on spotlighting nearly three years ago at the inception of this thing—the good taste bar continually high (and rising.)
So, Sunday? See you there. —Ed.
All words by Sean Gray and Denman C. Anderson
As an oversimplification, it’s easy to define Cold Wave as, “synth music.” And while there may be nothing wrong with that, the subtleties that carve out cold wave merge in a place that is darker and more bleak than simply using synthesizers to define a particular sound. The artists that emerged in late 70’s to early 80’s in a way, created a sound of acceptance. Acceptance of a way of living that is not organic, but is made by humans, and expressed by machines. An acceptance containing within it, all of the existential crises and fears of that reality. This acceptance feeds into every aspect of life from the political, to personal and human. It is this bleakness that we connect to. A problem with neither quantifiable solution, nor discernible definition. While other, similar genres may have tackled this continuum in their own way, for example, the violence and anger of industrial music, Cold Wave and much of its offshoots leave us with the idea of acceptance of the bleak sociological effects of technology.
The resurgence of this music and the progression it has taken in the past few years, in many ways, has much to do with the idea that the listener is always surrounded by technology that continually, and ironically, leaves them with less and less control. The hollow spaces gnawed within us by this life directly relate to the dark tones that both the first cold wave, and the “new wave” of today have brought us.
Many of its fans and followers would have nothing to do with this analysis, simply staking their claims to cold wave as, “good music.” Of course the first step in any audio exploration is to simply ask, “Who should I be listening to?” Here then, are three both noteworthy albums in the scene, all excellent starting points.
Kas Product – Try Out
Upon hearing this LP for the first time, the average listener might not be sure what to make of it. However, once you hit the song So Young So Cold, there’s a surging energy that can't be denied. Their debut album, released on RCA in 1982, “Try Out” sent an influential shot across the movement, and Mona Soyoc’s vocals were the blue print for all cold wave. Standout tracks include the obvious, “So Young But So Cold,” but also, “Break lose,” which utilizes the low ends of the synth and creates something more of a dance track that treads the line from poppy to morose.
Kas Product - Breakloose (Mp3)
Asylum Party – Borderline
Compared to the Kas Product LP above, the 1989 release on Lively Art, “Borderline,” finds Asylum Party harnessing a much richer and more fleshed out sound. This album gives a fresh perspective on a scene that sometimes can become too redundant. Stand out tracks include, “Pictures,” which is a haunting song built on the foundation of a pounding beat that lands, not too far off the influence of industrial music of the time. Other songs, like, “Julia,” are the very definition of pop, but maintain their own wispy beauty. The dark romance of, “Borderline,” stands up strong, even today.
Asylum Party - Pictures (Mp3)
Neutral Project – Comme Un Oiseau De Proie...
1989 was apparently a very good year for this type of music, as Olivier Champeau, of other noteworthy band, Little Nemo, helped Yvon Million and Dominique Oudiou, (before the appearance of Kristian Dernoncour), produce a truly noteworthy slab of cold wave, “Comme Un Oiseau De Proie...,” on the Aspect D'Une Certaine Industrie label. This album goes much farther into the exploration of darkness than the other two mentions, utilizing the lower ends of the sound spectrum to create this atmosphere. It’s interesting to note that Neutral Project rely, by and large on only the beat to craft their music, but that’s just part and parcel for a genre that likes to let simple, bleak sounds bleed through. Tracks such as, “J'appelle,” are both amazing and a good representation of this sound, while a track such as, “Future,” almost become an out and out dance numbers. Of course, “Sodeil de Nuit (2eme Eclipse),” may well be one of the best cold wave songs ever written.
Neutral Project - Soleil De Nuit (2eme Eclipse) (Mp3)
All of these albums helped form the ice-cubed building blocks of the genre we now look back on today, and yet, with everything mentioned above in mind, they seem more relevant than ever. Come out to Velvet Lounge this Sunday the 18th to experience and share in these sounds across eras. Let’s be empty together.
Posted by Jon at 10:24 AM