The mid-90’s were dark, dark, times for SynthPop fans. All that existed was this thing (amusingly) called ‘Modern SynthPop’, a stale, stagnant regurgitation machine that sounded like vocal trance by people who with little clue about vocals or trance. General MIDI 4/4 beats and badly produced, unimaginative (read: four layered arpeggios) music met Dave Gahan karaoke vocals. It was all so contrived, so formulaic, so boring and so not relevant. For these reasons it remained the smallest of music scenes, but for a time, it was all we had.
There was, however, one beacon in the darkness. A record label that, whilst still really being a Modern SynthPop label, tended to actually respect the history of SynthPop as well as looking beyond the dross to the future. With a roster of artists that seemed a little more exclusive, a little more hand picked than certain other labels, Ninthwave Records kept us in interesting, well crafted, releases. Picking up European bands (rather than just licensing existing releases) including Heaven 17 and (as they were then) The Modern and cherry picking the ‘good stuff’ in the Modern SynthPop scene they were always a mark of quality over quantity.
Ninthwave stopped us all going mad.
So, with that in mind, I’m pretty chuffed to see they are still going. This year is their 10th anniversary and in celebration of this they are releasing the second volume in their ‘Synthetic Dance Music’ series. The 25 track album reads like a who’s who of Ninthwave. The line up, that includes Heaven 17, Katsen and The Garland Cult, is too long to go through here so get your ears round four choice cuts.
Matinee Club (they of the being ex-The Modern) are probably known to most New Wave fans here in the UK as one of the best live acts around, check ‘Fool In The Name Of Love’, there one of the best on record too. Scotland’s Electroluvs push things into a more ElectroPunky arena with the Hyperbubble reMix they have featured while Filterhouse Boys’ reMix of SynthPop jokers Spray is pure dancefloor material. Empire State Human (the first band we interviewed here at electronic rumors!) also appear with Digitize deep Electro reMix of their ‘Melancholic Afro’.
♫ Matinee Club – Fool In The Name Of Love
♫ Electroluvs – Teenage Timebomb (Hyperbubble reMix)
♫ Spray – Love’s Been Particularly Cruel To Me (Filterhouse Boys reMix)
♫ Empire State Human – Melancholic Afro (Digitize reMix)
That’s just a taster of what the album offers.
Alright…I’ll admit it…there is still room for improvement in the Modern SynthPop scene, frankly there is some awesome talent there that needs grabbing by the scruff of the neck and dragging into the 21st century but if anyone’s going to do it’s gonna’ be Ninthwave.
‘Synthetic Dance Music Volume Two’ is out right now, and at the crazy low price some of these retailers are selling it you’d be crazy not to check it out!