Archive for September, 2010

Review: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – History of Modern

Posted in Review with tags , on September 28, 2010 by softsynth

Perhaps we built up expectations a little too much. When word came down that the heyday lineup of O.M.D. were reuniting for their first album together in 24 years our little hearts went a-pitter. Few bands influenced us more. While many who grew up during the golden age of electronic music point to the Human League as their main influence we were all about the O.M.D. (while both paled as compared to the Mode…). Our excitement was unbending and the teasers, so beautifully ladled out, so perfectly calibrated in an exercise of perfect instinctual promotion, made us that much more twitterpated.

No matter what the band delivered it could never have lived up to the anticipation. And History of Modern doesn’t. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work on some level, just that the O.M.D. album we pictured in our heads couldn’t have been made in 2010, and we should have realized that. See, the basic conundrum for the band is they were always – at least at their most relevant – innovators. they experimented with sound, using lo-fi techniques if that was the best instrument needed to create the sound they imagined and through 1985 produced compelling, cutting-edge electronic albums that moved the pieces on the electronic game board ever forward. In 2010, to be true to that mission would have meant pushing forward into new realms, something no one was all that jazzed to hear. We wanted a band that revisited its roots. But looking back rarely pays real dividends. Continue reading


Okay this is cute: Depeche Mode fans on “strike”

Posted in Commentary, News with tags on September 22, 2010 by softsynth

Posted and shared with little comment except to say, a) very cute effort on the part of some Depeche Mode fans who are (extremely politely) demanding some action on the Alan Wilder front and b) we concur. We concur the shit out of this…

Jakalope return

Posted in Commentary, News with tags , on September 18, 2010 by softsynth

Canadian band Jakalope have returned from a long absence with a new vocalist and a very new sound. The band was originally an industrial-pop hybrid, the brainchild of Dave Olgilvie (Skinny Puppy) featuring lovely, if reedy vocalist Katie B. Their first album, It Dreams was one of Softsynth’s favourites in recent memory, even after six years it still features heavily on the Softsynth iPod. The follow-up, Born 4, was a dreadful mess, a rock wannabe that jettisoned the electronic side of the band. After that album justifiably went nowhere Katie B left the band and that seemed to be it; we were thinking of doing a “Bands we miss” tribute to them when we got wind some months ago they were back in the studio with a new singer, the equally lovely, Chrystal Leigh, who bolsters said loveliness with a more mature set of pipes and she brings some cojones to the project that Katie B (who is now a country artist known as Katie Rox) simply couldn’t.

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Review: Iris – Blacklight

Posted in Review with tags , on September 15, 2010 by softsynth

Iris is one of those bands we’ve always liked, but in a kind of “in the background” kind of way until their terrific 2005 album Wrath. With that album they took a bold step in a more mature direction. Often we lament those electronic bands that start plugging in the old school instruments (at least those that established their sound without) but in this case it worked. While great with a sense of melody and a hook, Iris sometimes suffered from a thinness of sound that was nicely fleshed out with the guitars. It was one of our picks of the best of the year that year and we were excited to see what was to come next.

Ultimately we had to wait a full five years to find out and we’ve gotten ourselves a solid, if unremarkable follow-up.

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Review: Android Lust – The Human Animal

Posted in Review with tags , on September 6, 2010 by softsynth

So much of what we review, even the material we enjoy – hell, even the material we adore – enjoyed an oft-predictable quality to it. Nothing inherently wrong with that; predictability breeds comfort and often what we seek in music is pure, out-and-out comfort. But sometimes we want to be challenged. Sometimes we want music to slap us across the back if the head and say ‘pay attention’, there’s something interesting going on here, something unique, something utterly true.

Android Lust (Shikhee) has always challenged us, always made us notice what they (she) wants to convey. There is never much subtlety in AL songs, it rides a wave of emotion, of pure, guttural id. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes truly ugly, but always powerful. Continue reading